Today is my dad's 57th birthday. His last birthday celebrated on earth was his 44th.
I miss him. I miss him. I miss him.
The worst part about missing him these days is that I'm starting to realize that, what I knew was inevitable, is happening. It has been SO long that he's been gone. I know life without him far better than I remember life with him. And I remember that first year, realizing that I'd feel that way some day. It stinks.
He wasn't there when I came home, ready to show off my new engagement ring on my 20th birthday. I didn't walk him through my first home as I awaited my wedding. And, as blessed as I was to have my brother walk me down the aisle, I remember waiting at the back of the church, aching for my dad's arm to grab on to.
Those events were SO long ago...and it's been all this time, all this life lived, without him here.
I can't imagine the thrill I'd feel to watch him with my Emily, his first grandchild. Or hear him teach Kaleb and Levi everything there is to know about every major league baseball player that's ever played. And, oh, man...he'd love Avery's quirky, pretty personality. And my sweet Nadie would love his singing. He had the sweetest voice.
As I await the arrival of this baby, I also anticipate the bittersweet moments that follow the birth of each of my babies. Because, every single time, my first thought is, "Thank God you are OUT!" My second thought is, "You are beautiful and we are blessed."
And my third, "I wonder if Dad can see..."
Happy birthday, Dad. I carry you with me always.
*photo above: me & my dad, 1982? with a little added design from one of my kids