>20 years ago today, I lost my dad. I actually don’t like that expression all that much. How do you lose someone ? It’s not like they are a set of keys you’ve misplaced or a sock that the dryer ate. What I didn’t realize was that I was going to spend the next 20 years looking for him. He may be more akin to the sock that you never seem to find but continue the search for. You know you’d like to find the missing sock, you know it’s around there somewhere but that damn dryer isn’t giving up anything any time soon. I’ve sorted of dreaded this particular anniversary as now we enter the time where my dad will have been dead for more of my life than he was alive. He wasn’t around all that much when he graced the planet but still. I was surprised to find that this day came and it hasn’t been nearly as bad as I expected. In fact today has been gift of funny stories and found opportunities.
I don’t tend to get maudlin or morose anymore when this day comes. There are days where I still miss my dad dreadfully. More so, I miss the chance of being able to get to know him. My regret is that he never got to really know me or the successes I’ve had in my life since he died. Graduating college, getting married, having my kids, buying a house, my cake business, my writing: he’s missed it all. On the days where I miss my dad dreadfully, I shed a tear, pull out a memory, give it a kiss and tuck it away again when I’m done. Other days I can bash him to bits for poor parenting choices, even poorer life choices and for being dumb enough to die just when we’d begun to find some common ground. I recognize that he didn’t choose to die but logic is not at the forefront on those days. Most days though can pass without a thought that stirs much emotion where my dad is concerned. References are neutral, stories are told, questions answered and bashing is kept to a minimum. Life goes on. This is a far cry from even 10 years ago when anger still crackled at the surface of my heart. Progress and forgiveness have been made since then. My mom has paid the price for my regret by my constantly checking up on her, making sure we keep in touch, making sure we talk, just making sure. I’m not sure if paying the price is exactly the right term but I try to be vigilant about maximizing my time with her. We will end our time together and I will not have lost the chance to get to know her better. I will not have lost laughter and memories. I will not lose out this time. Neither of us will have regrets in that way.
20 years ago today my life changed forever. I lost my direction. I lost focus. I lost innocence. I lost my youth. During those dark days of planning his funeral, dealing with his estate and trying to go to college at the same time, I didn’t see what I would gain one day. I wasn’t able to look past the immediateness of then. The sudden change in responsibility. The knowledge that no one at 20 should need to gain. Looking at my future then consisted of getting through the day without crying in public or ripping someone’s head off to make myself feel better. My direction was to the nearest bar. My youth was spent in meetings about law suits and estate matters. My focus was on destroying the lawyer involved in all of this. Lots of time lost being angry and anxious and drifting.
Today my direction is forward towards a bright future. Today my focus is on my family, education and career. Today I am wiser and worldlier which is not a bad thing. Today there are days that I feel as young as I did at 20. Some days I feel every one of the 40 years I have lived. This is a milestone day on which I might shed a tear but will remember to smile. I might have lost some things along the way but gained a lot too. I look forward to the next 20 years where I will continue to search for the lost sock, will no longer worry about regret and will continue to enjoy funny stories and found opportunities.