Today is Father's Day. And for the first time, my dad isn't here to see or hear how much he is loved by his children. I told my dad so many times that he is "the best dad in the world!" And oh, what I wouldn't give to tell him one more time.
My heart hurts. But I think what some might not realize is that it's not simply because he's not here. I miss him, I miss him terribly. But the majority of my pain stems from how selfless he was, and how much he endured on my account. The tears that are flowing and the memories swirling around my head are of all that he tried to hide and how much he suffered, to spare me and my siblings the pain of knowing his pain. Little things like when I'd ask him how he was feeling, and he'd say "okay," when in fact he was far from okay. Or how many times he stubbed his toe because he couldn't see or walk very well during the last weeks and yet he wouldn't raise his voice in frustration but humbly kept going, trying to hide the pain. He had spasms which we called severe hiccups for the last week of his life. At one point I heard him say that they gave him a pounding headache and with each one he felt as though his brain would explode. In that week, I only heard that one small complaint. I said sorry that he had the hiccups several times, and he would wave his hand as to say, it's okay, don't worry about me. The living room was his bedroom for the last weeks. 9 kids, 4 of their spouses, 6 grand-kids, and he camped out in the middle of it all, in pain and humiliation and chose to grin-and-bear-it. These things seem small and are only a tiny glimpse.
I'm still having a hard time getting past how terrible the past several months have been. I have a hard time dwelling on good memories because my mind always drifts back to something that reminds me of his suffering. I want to be able to talk to my kids and tell them stories of "Pappy" but I still can't keep my composure long enough to tell them.
My dad made life wonderful and fun. He imparted wisdom and joy. He listened well, and spoke encouragement and life into those around him. His embrace was strong and gentle and I miss it so much. I am so thankful to have been blessed with such a dad. And though I wish I could have had another 29 years with him, in the 29 years I had, he extended more love, joy and kindness than most experience in a 100. Life is hard and at times it seems the opposite of beautiful. One day....one day I'll see him again and all will be well.