Happy Birthday Dad

Today would have been my dad’s 60th birthday. I’m having trouble getting out of bed. I’m having trouble believing it all over again. On normal days, I can trick myself into thinking that my dad isn’t there.  Can trick myself into thinking that he’s still here, just not there. But holidays slap me with a reminder that he is not here, he is permanently gone. That this is the new reality and there will be no more January 31sts where my dad wakes me up for a run, plays backgammon with me, eats Indian food that is too spicy and stays up past midnight to make the day last. There will be no more years older. This is it. My dad lives nowhere but inside of us now.  It is up to us to bring him to life. Today we will run and spend time together and eat Indian food in his honor. Maybe we will play backgammon. We will see birds and feel him with us but he still will not be here. That’s the unthinkable part of death and the horror of holidays – the burning truth that my dad is forever gone. For as long as I live, he will be dead. For every birthday and holiday to come, he will not be here. If I think about it too much, I lose it. Jobs and friends make it easier to hide and easier to forget the permanence. But days like today sting.  There’s this song that they play at Greek Orthodox churches when someone in the parish dies that translates to “Everlasting be his memory”.  Every time the first chord of the song plays, I cry. Even if I don’t know the person who passed, I cry. It brings me to my grandma’s funeral and my grandpa’s funeral and holding my howling mother at my father’s funeral. I hate the song for what it represents and I hate the lyrics to the song. Everlasting be his memory. His memory. Days before last hearing that song, I had cake with my dad. And days later I sat in church to be reminded that all I have left of him is his memory. And holidays deliver me that same tragic truth. We just have old memories. I want more memories. I want more birthdays. I want more inside jokes. I want more time. But all I have is memories. I woke up with these thoughts and then I ran a race with my mom and brother and the course ran parallel to the ocean, the sun was out, people were exceptionally nice to us and we found ourselves smiling. And it made me think that we have a little bit more. Without his spirit living inside of us, we would never have gone to the race this morning or met those kind strangers or eaten those yummy scones. He still has a hold on us. Even without being here, he is still keeping us together and making us smile. We won’t have more memories with him but we can have new memories together because of him. We can still be moved by him. We just can’t move with him by our side and that is what makes days like today seem impossible.