December 13th was like any other day in my house. Well, maybe it was even a little lighter than any other day in recent history. I wasn’t bogged down with the sadness and guilt that’s been slowly eating at me every day for the past year. I wasn’t dwelling on the fact that my dad is gone from my life forever, never to be at another dinner or super bowl party again.
December 13th marked the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death. The year between then and now has been a hard one. Yet, on that one-year anniversary things were different than I expected. I had been waiting and dreading that anniversary for weeks.
And then it arrived. And I forgot.
My daughter, in the middle of a conversation about keepsakes and how we maintain our memories of our loved ones that have passed, said “You know it’s been one year, today, since Pappa passed?” Duh. So that’s why my youngest had been listening to her Pappa’s old vinyl records all afternoon. It was all becoming so clear in that single moment.
Then it happened. The guilt hit me. This was a different guilt, though. This guilt was screaming at me: “how could you forget???” How could I forget? How could I not wallow in the memories that have been made; that will never be made again? How did it slip my mind? Then, of course, I went into dwelling-mode for the rest of the day and night.
The next day I was still worried about my lack of awareness and the feeling that I had been derelict in my duties as a mourning daughter. But then my thoughts changed. It dawned on me that something in me had changed. Something about the way I remember him. There was a lightness to the feelings and thoughts surrounding his death. I thought “maybe this is what it’s like to move on”. Do I want to move on? Yes. I think I do. I don’t want to live in a state of mourning from now until eternity. I want to have good memories of Dad and not allow myself to miss out on every other emotion (positive or negative) that I should have as daily life throws its ups and downs at me. I want to laugh at the funny memories of him and be angry at some others. Hell, I want to allow myself to mourn the loss of others that I loved throughout my lifetime.
I know there will still be days when I cry unexpectedly as he pops in to my mind. I know there will still be days when the guilt comes: for valid reasons or no real reason at all. I know that I’ll be sad sometimes when I have a problem with my car and he’s not here for me to ask about it or when I’m watching the super bowl without him. But it’s the in-between that I need. It’s the days where I remember how he taught me to love cars and how to run a business. It’s the days I remember watching the news with him in the morning before we went our separate ways for the day. It’s the days that I don’t think of him at all. That’s the in-between. That’s what I need.
And I’m getting there.