What’s Missing

Today is the first time in my life I’m not able to wish my Dad a happy birthday on February 13th.

This morning was the hardest part (presumably), since he was an early riser (I still have to go back and correct my tenses.) and I would have called him around 7.

It’s still a struggle, although now an almost entirely internal one. As always, everyone moves on. I totally get that, and it’s how it should be. I think that’s what helps pull me into the present and keeps me looking forward. Everyone else is already there. Still, it’s hard to turn off the impulse to keep asking the question: “Where is my dad?” Surely someone knows. He cannot just be vanished without a trace. He built a whole life. He was smart and hilarious and had a huge impact on people. It passes all understanding that he can just stop.

Dad would have been glued to the coverage of the revolution in Egypt. We would have called back and forth to exclaim over developments and make plans to go see this new old country. We’d reminisce about our time there and recall all the reasons we love it.

He was never one for deadlines. I often got presents for my March birthday over the summer. Or in February. It was mostly whenever the spirit moved him. The boys never got a Christmas gift last year because Dad was hunting for the perfect chess set and hadn’t seen it yet. Now we have his ancient set — intricate wooden figures on a marble board.

The exception to this disregard for timing was Valentine’s Day. Many years ago, when I was fresh out of college and working at CNN, I called my Dad on Feb. 14th, just to say hello. I called from work because that’s where I was most of the time. No respecter of calendars, Dad had no idea what day it was. And that wasn’t why I was calling. I did remark, though, that it was a nice day to be at work because there were so many flowers around. I didn’t care at all that my desk was bare. I fancied myself Mary Tyler Moore. Two hours after we hung up I got a call from the security desk that I had a delivery. Two dozen red roses with a card that read, “All my love, Reynaldo.” I called “Reynaldo” and to him it was so simple. No one should have more markers of love and value than his own daughter. Never willing to risk it again, every Valentine’s Day was the same — an ostentatious bouquet shows up on my desk early in the day for maximum impact. Always from love-sick foreigners with exotic names. At least until I married, and then it was simply, perfectly, “Love, Dad.”

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5 responses to this post.

  1. This is a beautiful story.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Jeannie on February 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Your dad sounds like he was such an amazing guy.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Susan on February 13, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Oh, sweetie.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Trope on February 14, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Oh, that’s such a lovely story. Reading this reminds me of my own dad… thank you.

    Reply

  5. This is a beautiful story. I’m so sorry you’re grappling with the loss of your dad – I dread those days myself.

    I’m also a newly-forty female, contemplating maybe, possibly, having my first baby. It’s so helpful to read your thoughts and journeys.

    Very glad Katie linked to you!

    Warmly,
    Erin D.

    Reply

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