April 13, 2017

For all that you've missed, you are missed.

Hey dad, it's been a while. This year is a bit of an anniversary.

It's been 10 years since you passed away. There's been a lot of change.

I remember back then, this sense of urgency that I had, that I wanted to have all these various pieces in my life in place. So that before you died, you could see that I was doing well, that I had some things going that would give you an idea of the life I was going to have.

Well, ten years later I've become smart enough to know that was crap. Life is a constant state of change.
When you died, you had one small grandchild to hold in your arms. Now, you have six. And they're all growing so fast, changing all the time.
When you died, I was working for the provincial government in what I thought would be a role for ages to come. Four organizations later, here I am, way far removed from that job.
When you died, Kate and I were plucking away at fixing up our house. The house that stands today is unrecognizable from the one you last visited.

One other thing that has changed in 10 years: the grief I, and so many others around you, felt back then. Sure, I have my 'you should be here' moments, and the 'I wish you could see these kids' pangs of sadness, but on the whole, you know what? I'm good...I really am good. And I'm thankful for that. For all the things I wanted to lock down, to have in place back then, grief over losing you was not something I wanted in my life as a constant. I didn't fight it--it's natural and important--but I didn't hold on to it.

Yeah, I'd love for you to be able to play with the kids, and yeah, I'd love to chat with you about the work I'm doing, or the garden, and have you be proud of me for what I'm doing with paddling. Maybe, somewhere, you are watching all those things. And I wonder what you'd look like now and how you'd be spending your retirement, and if you'd have figured out Skype, so the kids could see you on a Sunday morning call.

Instead, I keep close to the memories of who you were. I spin your old records and play oldies stations and think of you. I make dad jokes, because that's what you would do, and I make toasted sandwiches, because that's what you would do. I  embarass my kids by dancing in the kitchen, because that's what you would do.

I miss you, dad, for sure. But I don't grieve you, so heavily as I used to. I hope you understand that that's a good thing, and that you have an eternal life somewhere, just like you talked about having.

"When you die, dad, what you do believe? Where do you think you're going?"
"Stu, I think I'm going to go to sleep, and then I'm going to wake up, and I'm not ever going to know that I died."

And it's true, dad. That happened. You live on. In hearts and minds, and in photos and in music and in every piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken memorabilia I lay eyes on.

And I don't cry at the thought of these things.

I smile.

All my love to you, dad.

That, for sure, will never, ever change.