The Anniversary

June 22, 2017

I wonder sometimes if you’ve met her yet. I wonder if she’s still a perfect little girl and if she would cling to you the way a child would normally cling to their mother. I’ve separated myself from that life, he doesn’t seem to care much, but I can’t help but wish you’d have brought her home. I know you were meant to find her. Your death was proof of that.

I thought about something today. It’s something that I often think about and rarely talk about. A lot of times when our parents die, especially if they die young, we sit and wonder why they had to go so soon. I have never wondered that. I still have all those feelings you would expect. You know the ones. The ones that leave me feeling sad and nostalgic, wishing you could’ve met your grandkids. But for the most part, I have never had that nagging why-did-you-have-to-go anger. I’d hate to say I know God’s plan, but it’s almost like a feeling.

I’m not sure I would have the life I have now if you were still here. My priority would always have been you first. I guess you could call it reciprocation for all the time, blood, sweat, and tears you put into me. I was a child up until the moment you took your last breath. The wings you gave me were immediate, and though I flew in circles like a bird with a broken wing, I knew immediately that I could finally do whatever it was I wanted to do and be who I wanted to be. I no longer had to remain tied down by my guilt and your expectations. That scared the hell out of me. I had no idea who I was.

Today, I struggle a bit, but I’m getting closer to knowing myself better. My husband helps. He reminds me a lot of you in a disorganized and less hovering kind of way. We’re total opposites, you and I. You spent your life being the compassionate control freak who wanted to save children. I just want to make sure my family can make it through this God-forsaken world. I don’t mean to sound cold, but you left and the world went to shit. Or maybe that’s just my perspective.

You had a friend that probably greeted you before God. My assumption is that she would have beaten you there anyway had she not gone when she did. Our drug epidemic is something out of a week-long docuseries. It’s now my personal goal to keep my children away from drugs as much as possible, but I had more children and increased my odds for failure. This is why I pray daily.

The baby is not so much of a baby anymore. He looks at your picture often and recognizes you. I’ve told him a hundred times who you are. He says you are beautiful and he wants to marry you. It’s very sweet and it makes me laugh. The oldest has gone deeper into the teenage years and I fear she’s entering that weird stage that I went through where I hated everyone except my friends and Winnie the Pooh. Honestly, I don’t know how you put up with me. Middle child syndrome hasn’t quite infected my brood yet, the middle child is only five, but she’s a firecracker. She’s just like the oldest one was at that age. She’s just like you. She looks like you, too.

I remember once you dated a guy that had a daughter around my age. It didn’t last more than a month, maybe, and I don’t remember ever meeting his daughter. I think maybe he should have been one you chose over the others. My oldest boy, the one I have grown to love as my own, is amazing. He’s quite the smart ass and he knows exactly how to push my buttons. But I love him nonetheless and I’m certain he would’ve had your heart before he got both of his feet through the door. You should’ve chose the other guy.

I write to you every six months as if you were still here, as if somehow you’re going to receive my letters. I don’t know why I do this. At some point, it stopped being about mourning and coping. Now maybe it’s out of habit, or maybe it’s because I still feel like I’m really talking to you. Whatever it is, it’s all crap. But I’ll continue to do it because I don’t want to feel like I’ve lost you for good. This way, you’re just away. You’re never coming back, but you’re not gone either.

Eight years has passed since you exhaled your final breath. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. Did you wait for me? Why did you not go in the middle of the night while we were all sleeping? Why did you cling for one more minute until you heard my voice? Was that squeeze of your hand a goodbye? I know I’ll probably never know the answers. I can accept that, you’re gone.

The things I have trouble accepting are things that involve the people still living, but I’m sure at this point it would just be beating a dead horse. I’ll never get the answers—at least, not the honest answers—I’m looking for anyway.

Why are these damn things always so long? It’s like I start talking to you and I just can’t shut up. There’s a comfort in it for me for sure. But here I am at the anniversary of your death and I find myself wishing for the same thing I wish for every year. Like all the years before, I doubt I’ll get what I want. I wish you could talk to me. I don’t have a particular conversation picked out this time. I just want to hear your voice. I would love to see you in my dreams tonight, or hear you. You could call me on the phone. I don’t have to see you if you don’t want me to. I just want to hear you. The last vivid dream I have of you, we were lost in Alaska and fighting over a lawn chair. I would take that dream again. At least I’d wake up laughing.

I wish I could hear you. I wish you could hear me.

I wish today was tomorrow, and tomorrow was yesterday.

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