Today is September 1st.
My dad's been gone for a month.
One month, four hours, and twenty minutes ago, I answered the phone and heard my mom, so far away and so alone in the middle of the night in a foreign country, whisper the horrible news. There was nothing I could do. I offered to call my brothers and sisters. I wanted to help, to take the horror of calling away from my mom, but I also wanted something to do. Derek was at his dad's house and I was alone. There was no one for me to hold or cry with. I didn't want to turn off the lights and try to sleep again--and, on some level, I felt guilty about taking that away from her, leaving her alone in that room with my dad on the floor and nothing to do.
There's no way to fight "dad died," nothing that can counteract it or make it less true.
I love my dad. I miss him more than I know how to express. I want to hold his hand one more time. I want to hold his hand and hug him a hundred more times. I want Derek to know and love his grandad. I want to eat pizza puffs with him and watch Netflix movies on the end of his bed and swap books and go for long drives to look at trees or houses he likes. I want a recent picture of me and my dad. I want to sit down and smile for the camera with neither of us hiding our face.
It's too late for all of that.
I have no regrets other than the regret of time. I wish we had more. Of course. I wish the heart attack in Peru had been a false alarm, something to scare us and make us angry and worried, but not something so final.
I'm trying to believe in heaven. I want the faith I had as a child. I want to believe that my dad is still there, that I'll see him again, but mostly right now I just miss him.
When I was a kid, my dad was the biggest and strongest man I knew. Maybe that's a cliche of childhood--maybe we all think our dads are Superman at some point in our lives--but when I was in kindergarten, my dad's students actually called him Superman. He was tall and strong and good-looking. He was a firefighter, a paramedic, a track coach, a teacher and a principal. He led survivalist groups. He hiked, he built houses, delivered babies on the side of the road, cooked beans and bread and cinnamon rolls, read books, ran races, and fathered eight kids. He had big strong hands. He was kind and generous and always curious and if he saw someone who needed help, he would stop to help.
He wasn't perfect, of course. He had too many physical problems and, after countless surgeries in the last several years--knee and shoulder replacements and multiple spinal fusions--he wasn't as strong as he'd once been and he never went anywhere without a bag of medicine. He and my mom had their problems too. Problems are human. But they loved one another and they worked through their problems together.
He wasn't perfect, of course, but he was perfect for me.
I couldn't imagine a better dad for me and I wish I could have had him a little longer. I wish Derek could have had him a little longer too.