It's fitting that it would be pouring rain today for the first time here in weeks. While I'm glad for the sake of my newly planted tomatoes and flowers, it's just a reminder of how I really feel inside every June 15th.
Eleven years ago, today, my dad passed away. He was 44.
It wasn't sudden. He'd been fighting cancer since he was 35. 35! Greg is older than that. Dear Lord.
The scariest moment I experienced having a sick dad was on the last day of my freshman year of college. He had driven halfway across the country to pick me up for the summer. My mom had warned me that his health had deteriorated quite a bit over the months prior. But I was 18. I was lost in my own little world. I didn't give it much thought.
I'll never forget when he got out of the car. He looked like he was 75. My daddy. My young, sweet dad looked like he was 75.
He was horribly sick for the next day or two, but he tried to enjoy the time we had in my college town. I was supposed to sing in the school's choir for the commencement ceremony, but he warned me that he was probably too sick to attend. We had a long drive ahead of us. He needed to rest.
I remember sitting on stage, watching him walk through the door. He stayed just long enough to hear us sing before he left to return to his hotel room.
The next year, he was in the hospital more than he was home. I met Greg that year and they got to know each other. My dad knew just as well as I did that Greg was "the one" and told Greg to take care of me.
I was still oblivious that my dad was mortal, that his sickness would actually take him away.
I was still in my own little world and spent very little time in the hospital. My dad couldn't really die, could he?
We were told that his insides were like cobwebs due to all of the radiation done on his abdomen. He was down to 89 lbs. Still, he was my dad. He was going to make it. Off I went to do whatever it was I did back then.
I shouldn't have been surprised that morning. Just after 6 am, I was working my home healthcare job, a 45 minute drive from home. My mom called.
I remember walking outside and realizing that I wasn't on my way to see anything other than my dad's body. Confused, I looked up, and out loud, said, "Dad?"
I somehow managed that drive to where my family was gathered at the hospital.
It wasn't until life started happening that I realized how much losing my dad meant. A month later, I was engaged. Six months later, my brother walked me down the aisle to marry Greg. Another year or so later, I had my first baby. My dad wasn't there.
I wish I could go back. I wish I could change my mindset back then. I would have spent so much more time telling my dad what he meant to me. I would have asked him so many questions. I would have been there to tell him I loved him as he took his last breath.
There's a sappy country song that was out a few years back that explains why the rain is significant,
"there's holes in the floor of Heaven
and her tears are pourin' down
that's how you know she's watchin'
wishin' she could be here now.
And sometimes if you're lonely
just remember she can see
there's holes in the floor of Heaven
and she's watchin' over you and me"
I certainly don't think that my dad would trade the glories of heaven to come back here, and I don't know if he ever gets glimpses of his grandkids. But today, it's raining.
And I'm kind of glad...