My Dad’s birthday was on Easter this year. My boyfriend and I wanted to visit him before heading to church with his family. I don’t visit as often as I should, but it was Easter, and it was his birthday.
We brought him flowers—a beautiful springy arrangement of soft yellows and greens I put together the night before. Flowers I knew he would like. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The morning sun was bright, and a cool breeze swept past us as we walked the path to see him. I said, “Happy Birthday Dad, and Happy Easter! I love you.” I smiled up at him, and then I began to cry.
My father passed away last April. He would have been 75 this year.
He rests within an outdoor mausoleum, 12 feet above the ground. I hate that I can’t touch his headstone. I hate that I have to use a very large pole just to put flowers on his grave marker. I hate that I can’t sit on the grass beside his grave and whisper my thoughts and prayers to him through falling tears. I hate visiting.
It’s just hard. It’s hard to think about him there, in his casket, alone and unmoving. It’s hard when I so vividly remember his strong embrace, when I still smell his sweet scent of tobacco and aftershave, when I still feel the late night summer breeze whisk across my face as I swung high on my swing-set and watched him care for his garden, when I still hear his friendly, low and comforting voice singing along to all our favorite country songs. When I still remember my daddy before he got sick.
It’s hard, but I still do it. I visit him because even though I can’t touch his headstone, I want to be as close to him as I can. I visit because I want there to be fresh flowers on his grave marker. I visit him because I want him to know that I care. That I miss him more than anything and I love him always and forever. I hate visiting, but I do it because I love my dad.
I know that he is at peace now and that he is always with me, but my heart still aches for him. Just one more hug. One more phone call. One more “I love you”.
Writing this blog post is difficult because it’s forcing me to acknowledge my heavy heart. It’s making me feel all those emotions I try to gloss over in order to be productive, in order to get through my day-to-day life. That’s why I’m taking this time to write it. Giving myself permission to feel sad and to embrace the heartache, because that is how we heal. Grief is a process (a really freaking long process) and it’s different for everyone. I’m learning that I need to set time aside to to be sad, to be angry, to be alone, to cry, to truly feel however it is I’m feeling and to not feel ashamed for it. I’m learning that it doesn't make me weak to still mourn my dad’s passing, almost a year later. I’m learning that it just takes time…
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