It’s been six months. A lifetime ago, or maybe yesterday, I lost my dad. Sometimes, I get really good at focusing on daily routine instead of what’s missing. Other times, it feels as if the daily routine is only a veneer. A pretense. A child playing make-believe because I’m supposed to be an adult.
I received a card from my mom recently, and she signed it Mom. Not Mom and Dad, but Mom. After checking my mailbox, I sat in my car fighting helpless sobs. I kept telling myself, “Stop crying. I’m going to stop crying. There’s no need to cry.” I argued with myself as the tears refused to cease. It was such a tiny thing, but I always took it for granted. Every holiday meant a card signed Mom and Dad. I might not always have been happy with my parents, but they sent the cards.
Sometimes, I want to wake up and no longer be the daughter who lost her father. I just want to be me, ordinary me who will have an ordinary day. Sometimes I actually forget, for a moment or an hour or perhaps a whole day.
Then something will remind me of my dad, and everything floods back.
I wonder if Dad…oh, wait. I can’t ask him.
Dad would know the name of….oh, yeah. Still can’t ask him.
Wouldn’t Dad like to know that I…oh, that’s right.
The recent publication of Freiya’s Stand has brought education closer, and I find myself defensive when educators are criticized. The phrase that makes me see red is, “Those who can’t do, teach.”
I don’t mean thoughtful, intellectual critique of a simplistic statement said without thought. I mean fire-in-the-belly, hot-under-the-collar indignation that anyone dare to malign my father’s life work.
My dad did a lot of things, including teaching and training future generations of teachers.
He was a good man. I hold onto that when I feel robbed of an adulthood without a father.
On good days, I find myself wistful when people my age or older (sometimes decades older) speak of their (living) parents or even grandparents.
On not-so-good days, jealousy rears its ugly head.
Grandparent? Ha! That’s nothing compared to losing a parent.
I shove the uncharitable thoughts away as fast as I can, but the damage is done. Comparison is the evil, divisive tactic of a small person. I fight, but sometimes the urge is overwhelming.
Everyone’s grief is valid. Everyone’s pain is real. Everyone, not just poor little old me, has difficulties. How dare I think otherwise?
But the childish whisper in my heart refuses to be silenced.
We were supposed to have more time.
I’m grateful my father died in strength, and that I didn’t have to watch him suffer the indignities that would have killed his spirit. I’m grateful I got to say good-bye, and that the generosity of loved ones made it possible.
I’m grateful for so many things, but the heart-call remains.
You left before I got to know you, Dad. Not as a daughter depending on her daddy or an adolescent fighting with authority, but one adult to another.
I thought that I, the girl, would care for my parents in their old age.
That’s no longer an option.