Four years ago tonight, I said goodbye to my dad. I’d said goodbye to him many other times, like when he moved into his own house when I was in second grade and when he left New York for California while I was still in high school. Even though those felt like earth shattering moments, I really just said so long…farewell…I’ll see you soon. But as my aunt held the phone up to my dad’s ear for the last time four years ago, I said my final goodbye and it wasn’t eloquent.
His box of journals and letters still sits in my office collecting dust behind my desk. Sure I’ve opened it and ruffled through the papers but I haven’t sat down to dissect them…because sometimes the truth is filled with pain especially when it comes to my dad.
And then when I needed it most as I started to rehash the last moments of this month four years ago, I stumbled across this quote on a favorite author’s Facebook page and things started to become crystal clear.
Suddenly the drunken missteps, the times he let a girlfriend or wife be mean to me, the hours I spent waiting for him to have him never arrive and the dozens of other transgressions that hurt to remember all fell to the side. Yes, the last decade made up for so much of the past. It dulled the edges of my pain.
As we stood at his grave at Arlington Cemetery today, I whispered to him that it was all okay, his whole looked beautiful to me. Because how could it not at this point in my life? He helped me find my words and although it tears me up that he can’t see that I’ve followed my dreams, his dreams for me, I know he’s sending me signs and telling me he’s happy for me. Sometimes it’s in the form of yellow tulips, sunflowers or a shooting star and other times it’s my son’s hand gestures that make me feel like he’s in the same room.
Four years hasn’t changed the hurt. The tears still come with the desire to dial his number but I’ve found ways to honor him with the life I’m living. And best of all, my mind has smoothed over some of the memories and remembering has become so much easier because I’ve decided time can be forgiving…