This week I’ve been rundown. I’ve been feeling the stress at work. I’ve also been missing my Dad. I felt like I used to feel approaching the 6th every month since he died on April 6th. I kept thinking, it’s not the 6th, so why am I so raw? Oh right. My birthday.
My birthday serves as not just another first that I have to get through in the year after his death, but also a reminder that I lost my Dad before I even turned 35. I reached an age that my Dad would never see me in. The last time he saw me I was 34. For some reason this just seems monumental to me; to reach an age he won’t ever know me during.
My Dad was a goofy guy. Every year on my birthday he called me and sang Happy Birthday. My Dad had a horrendous singing voice. I mean super awful. It was better if I could pick up the phone and hear it live. Because if I let it go to voicemail he would sing Happy Birthday, loudly and off key, as per usual, then leave a long rambling message starting with “Hi! This your Father! Your Dad! Happy Happy Birthday…” and then would devolve into another song this was completely made up.
He would talk and sing until the voicemail cut him off usually.
As I said, it was better to pick up and get it live, so he would only do the one rendition.
This morning we all went to the playground. Then I went to hot yoga. On my way home I found myself crying. I forget what song came on in my car but it suddenly hit me that I wouldn’t be getting a phone call this year. No horrible rendition of Happy Birthday.
It’s these little things that we take for granted that I miss the most. Not everyone who knew us knew that was a birthday tradition. I never even thought of it as a tradition until it wasn’t going to happen this year.
I received many Happy Birthdays from my friends and family this year. But no call from my Dad.
Grief is a funny thing. Unpredictable. I never know what memory will trigger it. I knew my birthday would be hard. I didn’t know it would be hard because he wasn’t going to call and sing to me.
It seems like such a stupid thing to cry about. Such a small thing to miss. His singing voice was truly bad. But it wasn’t about the singing. It was about my dad making me a priority and having fun and doing something silly to make me smile.
By the afternoon I was feeling okay. By the evening when some friends came over and my Mom I was feeling more positive. I don’t mind turning thirty-five. Aside from the term “advanced maternal age” now applying to me there’s not anything scary to me about aging (I’m not having more kids I just find that label moderately horrifying if I were to have more kids).
We had a nice meal and gluten free cupcakes which were surprisingly delicious.
If my Dad were here he would have sang. He would have enjoyed the food and I would have not realized how precious every second with him was. Because it wasn’t until he was gone that I truly appreciated his Happy Birthday renditions which to me would be the sweetest sound I could of heard today.
It is with grief and also hope that I enter thirty-five. I grieve my dad. But I have hope that the grief will ease. Hanging out with my kids and my family and friends eases the grief and helps easing into a new chapter without my Dad more bearable.