My “smart”phone and Facebook keep reminding me that it’s your birthday. My soul and my heart already knew. One of your closest friends sent me an email this morning from the other side of the world remembering and missing you on this day, the day that will forever be yours. You made birthdays a true celebration for those around you. You remembered everyone’s special day and they looked forward to their yearly call from you even if they hadn’t seen you in years. You wouldn’t have simply written a greeting on their Facebook wall…you’d go in for the personal touch…something I didn’t always appreciate growing up. So it’s only appropriate for me to shout to the stars today, letting you know how we are and how much you’re missed.
I think you’d be proud of me, Dad, and maybe even love what I’m doing with my life. Remember all those years ago when I was a teenager and I frustrated you to no end because I lacked direction other than reading Seventeen magazine and Sweet Valley High books? You wanted me to do more than babysit and hang out with my friends. Maybe find an internship in the city like the one you set up for Dave with your friend, the architect. I didn’t…it took me forty-three years to settle into my skin and it upsets me to think that your death forced me here into this place that finally feels comfortable.
I know you’d adore your grandkids. You’d probably obsess over Alex’s new found love for the environment and urban planning. He’s so much like Dave. Justin and I catch each other’s eye when he moves his hands just like you used to. And his smart but snide little comments make me blink because I think I’m sitting with my brother and not my son. Eva would make you smile and you’d say she’s such a doll. Remember, you called me that too on occasion as I got older. You’d see some of me in her and it would worry and frustrate you but hopefully you’d realize it would eventually turn out okay. The twins…they would leave you rolling in laughter and challenge even your quick wit. Gigs would not fall for your tall tales and E would play catch with you until it was too dark to see the ball.
I’m sad…no that isn’t a strong enough word…I’m devastated that they are growing up in a world without your commanding physical presence. That they probably don’t remember your billowing laugh or great big sneeze. That you’ll never hide behind a door and scare the daylights out of them. That they never got one of your handwritten letters containing part of your soul. But for them, you still are everywhere. You are every dragonfly they see anywhere they are…even if it freaks the people we’re with out, they proudly pronounce a visiting dragonfly as Grandpa coming to say hi. You used to be a shooting star to them but you’ve morphed into something they see more frequently. To me, I thin you’re the cardinal that visits my Crepe Myrtle on my most stressful days. You’re behind a stone at Arlington and a little bit of you sits in my kitchen. To them…and maybe even to me…you’re a myth and a mystery we’ve claimed as part of our history.
On this day, the second of June, I’ll think about you more than I usually do and I’ll try to do it with more of a smile than the tears I’m shedding now. But you know what Dad, because you were always larger than life you’re still a constant in mine.