The weeks leading up to Father's Day are tough when your Dad is dead. It seems like there are ads all over the place trying to sell you something that's just perfect for your Pop. Working retail doesn't help... neither did working at the horse track today with all the Dads carrying around their Happy Sires Day mugs. I couldn't help but think today that my Dad might have really liked going to the races! Too bad I didn't think of that when he was still around.
It's not like we never did anything together... we played pool or cribbage once in a while... eating out was always a big thing... we even took a couple of road trips to California together to see family! But I think what he really wanted was for me to just once get out of bed and invite him over when he called on Sunday mornings at 7am (after I'd been out half the night) to ask "What's for breakfast?" It was kind of a going joke that I had to train him not to call until after "double digits".... at least 10am! What I wouldn't give for a wake up call like that now...
I guess I always thought we'd have more time.
It's been seven years since we lost him to cancer and there's still a hole in my heart where he should be. Every time I think about him, my heart breaks all over again because I immediately think about the days before he passed away and how he was wasting away before our eyes. I think about sleeping in the chair in his hotel room and waking up with my heart pounding because he's trying to get out of bed... or staring at me trying to get me to understand that there's someone out to get us but there's strength in numbers so we should stick together... or the last night when I crept out to his living room to check on him and he was already gone (then trying to wake up my sister to tell her... "karen... Karen... KAREN... (nothing)... Dad's Dead." (that woke her up!)).
I also think about how we found strength that we didn't know we had and how much closer my sister and I have been since that happened. That helps. A lot. If I was strong enough to make it through that, then I'm strong enough to get through anything... including days like this when well-meaning people ask if I called my Dad today... and I have to say "No... I lost my Dad in 2004." without crying.
I never realized how hard losing a parent is or how long the hurt stays with you. So, to all of you out there who have lost a parent and still have a hard time getting through holidays and birthdays... you're not alone. And to all of you who are lucky enough to still have yours... just once, get out of bed and ask them over for breakfast once in a while, huh?
ps - Here's the website I was blogging on when Dad was in the hospital, just in case you haven't seen it.