My dad died three years ago. Three and a half now, really. At the end of January, although I couldn’t swear on the date. My memories of how it felt are vivid, but a calendar is conspicuously absent when I talk about his illness and death. He was diagnosed in May, I think? Or maybe June? He did three rounds of chemo, I think, but maybe just two, or four. Was it the same number of rounds of radiation as chemo, or not? I think they just did radiation on the brain, but couldn’t swear to that.
But I remember how fucking terrible that Christmas was, so clearly. I remember the hospital bed in the living room that he wasn’t quite in, yet. Not for a few more days, so we covered it in presents to make up for the lack of tree, or any other festive trappings. I remember the night he died with achingly clarity, and the taste of cold McDonald fries eaten in the emergency ward. I remember most of all the horrible feeling of waiting. Death was waiting in the wings, but we didn’t know if we had hours or days left, and so we went home to sleep for a few hours. And that is, of course, when he died. (I don’t know yet how to feel about that. Mainly I don’t. Can’t. Wont.)
On Father’s Day, everyone on my whole fucking facebook feed (hyperbole) put a picture of them dancing with their daddies at their weddings. And I refused to have any of the feelings. Or to address Father’s Day on social media in any way. (David got a card and a book and some booze. Low key for sure.) We were never big on Hallmark holidays growing up, so they day doesn’t actually carry that much emotional punch for me, but clearly it does a bit, because I’m typing this out. It certainly carries more punch than his actual day of death, considering I only remember that a week later this year. I don’t have any pictures of my dad at my wedding, obviously. I don’t have any pictures I can bear to look at from the year before that, either. (Jesus. I just found a single picture on FB from a family wedding in July of 2009, at least two chemo rounds in, and I can’t even look at it. Skeletal is the only word for it, and it got nothing but worse from there.)
You know, it’s not that I miss my dad more on some randomly assigned Sunday in June. It’s that on this one, randomly assigned Sunday in June that I am more acutely aware of the big alive-father-shaped-hole in my life. And it fucking sucks.
Don’t smoke, kids. That shit will kill you in a terrible way, and leave behind a person-shaped-hole behind that will haunt your family for the rest of their lives.