Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Dead Dads Club

17 years ago today, my dad lost a very brief fight with cancer. So brief, that as a 21 year old, it had taken me 4 weeks to adjust to his diagnosis. And he was gone. No epic battles, no long bouts of suffering, none of the lengthy horrors you dream about. Horrors many friends have had to endure in their battles since.

 And I was grateful. Grateful that God answered a simple prayer. "If you are going to take him anyway, do it sooner. Don't make him suffer." That gratefulness didn't change my grief. Not then and not now 17 years later.

 Because contrary to the phrase, you never "get over it." You adjust. You adapt to the circumstances which become your new normal. But you never get over it.

 Sure. I am not in a fog of tears, grief, and frustration. I am not so exhausted and overwhelmed that my mother, aunt and I laughed and cried hysterically trying to craft a Eulogy in "Klingon". (Long story) There are no priests, no funerals, no cards. On this day of the year, it is always a bit darker in my world.

But it isn't just this day. There are little things, little moments. Like when I hear the song "They Don't Know" by Tracey Ullman. Because my dad was an avid music fan. His genre of choice was 50's and 60's music, but thanks to a full on 80's child he was fairly well versed in my own brand of music awesome. But that song he loved. It really reminded him of the music he grew up with. I hear it and I want to call him and tell him it made me smile to think of him. And I remember. There is no phone that can span this distance.

 Or college basketball. My dad was a huge UNC fan and I was a huge Duke fan. The yearly meet-ups of those two teams was an event attended eagerly by dad and I every year. My mom usually made herself scarce as it got pretty heated and dramatic in our living room. My dad and I didn't have a great relationship during my teenage years (I was a turd) but this was 'our thing.' Even now I can't stand to watch it. Though my husband has become a Duke fan himself and would love to watch a great rivalry in action, it is no fun to watch the game without having my dad there.

 Firetrucks. My dad was a firefighter. It was his passion to help others and as a fireman he was able to do so. He loved it so much he worked a paid firefighting job in a city and volunteered as a firefighter in our smaller suburb until he got injured and was unable to continue working as a firefighter. The boys are at the right age where they are fascinated with fire trucks. Any time we pass a station they shout and point at the trucks. Today one of the trucks had its lights on and they talked about it all day. My dad would be in his glory if he were here. The boys room would look like a fire truck threw up in it. And he would be laughing and playing right along with them. 

My dad could talk to anyone about anything. He would find a topic if need be. He loved sitting and talking with people where they were. I tell my husband he and my dad would have had a great deal to talk about.

 He was caring, kind, generous, and genuine. The kind of guy that would let you borrow anything, would save an injured cardinal from the road, and would sit and play board games with his family.

 And I will never get over missing him. Wishing he could hold his grandsons. Or give me a hug.

 There was a scene in the TV show "Grey's Anatomy" where the dad of one of the interns dies. Christina (the rigid, left brained, stone faced one) found her grieving friend and told him about the club they were both a part of. One you can't join until you are in it. The Dead Dads club.

 It is true. Not just for dads but all loss. Parents, spouses, friends, family. You can't possibly understand until you are there. But you really hope no one ever has to join the club.

 I miss you Dad. Today and Every day. God willing we will meet again. I love you.


  1. This is a beautiful post and a wonderful tribute to your dad and his legacy. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your remembering...

    PS_ Are you from NC?? We are a Wolfpack/Pirate house :-)

  2. Thank you so much :) I am actually from NY but NC college basketball is the best!!