You Were Gone Before I Could Make You Proud

You should still be here. I remember, a few months before you passed away, you made a joke about how you were dying. I didn’t think much of it; you said stuff like that all the time. We both did, actually. I told you that you had to live long enough to see me graduate from college, and you told me you hoped you would. That you would love to be alive to see that. I’ll be the first of your kids to do so, and actually, the first person on your entire side of the family. Me. I wish you were here to see it.

I’m going to apply to graduate school, too. I never got to talk to you about that. I wonder what you would have thought. Would you be proud? I feel like you would be. I hope so, anyway.

Sometimes, for split seconds, I forget you’re not here. Even now, I’ll think to myself that I should call you and ask you something. What was all the stuff you put in your spaghetti sauce? Why did you and mom get married in Vancouver, and not in Portland? Why were we handing out candy at Aunt Teri and Uncle Frenchie’s house one year on halloween? Did you dress up as the grim reaper, or did I make that up in my head? I know you’d remember. You remembered everything.

Lily misses you a lot. She wrote you a letter today. She asked me if she could send it to heaven, and I didn’t know what to say. In the letter, there was a picture of her crying, and a picture of you saying goodbye. It said, “If you want to go, I’ll be so lonely. I love you, come back.” I hope she remembers you when she gets older. You were such a great Papa, I don’t want her to forget that. I don’t want her to forget you.

I miss you. We all miss you.

Why do we always wait?

So many things on my mind today. Like the fact that, earlier, I realized I recycled all of the cards my dad ever gave to me. Every single birthday card I had from him was tossed a couple months ago. And I know exactly what happened. I remember what I was thinking. I was thinking, why do I keep all of these? I was thinking that I’d get another card from him this year. In a couple months, when my birthday is. And now I have nothing. I have nothing with my dads handwriting on it. It’s all gone.

Tonight, we’re gathering together to celebrate his life. My whole family, and a lot of our friends are going out to the bar that my dad always went to, where the bartenders and a majority of the patrons knew my father before I was even born. And it’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t want to go out to celebrate my father’s life, because I don’t want to acknowledge the fact that he’s gone. I hate that that’s the reason we’re doing this tonight. I hate the fact that he’s not here. And at some point, I’m going to have to start acting like things are ‘going back to normal’. But nothing about this is normal. Nothing will ever be normal again. Not without my dad.

Why do we wait until the people we love have passed to celebrate them? All of the good things people have been saying about my dad this last week? Why didn’t anyone every say any of those things to his face? Why didn’t I ever tell him how much he meant to me? Why didn’t any of us? Why do we treat people like they’re going to be around forever?