My dad would have turned 80 years old today. It’s been five years plus two weeks since he died. I miss him. He was a good one.
But as much as I miss him, I’m okay with not celebrating his birthday today. He had a good, full life. He enjoyed it, even as he dealt with cancer through the last years of his life. Of course, there were moments that weren’t the best, but he didn’t sit in the muck for long. He valued his friendships and family too much for that. He found ways to encourage others even when in the thick of his own struggles. And he laughed and joked as much as he could, because that was who he was.
I don’t know what the last five years would have been like for my dad, or any of us, if he had lived longer, but I wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer. I wouldn’t have wanted him to get more bad news, sit at more treatment appointments, or be more limited in what he could do. There are times I am playing with my oldest granddaughter, and I see an expression in her face that reminds me of him. I am confident they would have had some mischievous adventures together. I know he would have enjoyed snuggling with my youngest granddaughter. He would have enjoyed a variety of benchmarks in all of our lives. And he would have helped us through the tough ones, but I know seeing the chaos of my divorce would have been difficult. I know he’s missed some things, but sometimes, missing moments in life isn’t so bad.
As I miss my dad today, I realize missing him isn’t so bad in some ways. Missing him means he’s not suffering. And missing him means he had a significant enough role in my life that makes missing him a reflection of the love we shared. I’m thankful.
Today’s grief is likely difficult and overwhelming. Be patient with yourself. And know that healing is never complete, but the process will reveal some gratitude you can choose.