Dear dad…

I’ve been putting off writing this for as long as I can.  I thought I could keep an upbeat blog when I started this page, having heaps of spare time to write about the new baby and ooh and aah over every little milestone throughout my pregnancy and childbirth, having lots of good material for some fun and carefree pieces.  Alas, all I’ve managed to do is keep a photographic diary of your new grandson on Instagram, grossly neglecting this site until now.

Your birthday this week triggered an overwhelming flow of emotions and so here I am.  I need an outlet or I won’t make it through another day without bursting into tears.  Dramatic I know, but true nonetheless.

It’s been almost 8 months and it feels like we just lost you yesterday. The pain is still so fresh and whenever I allow myself to think about you – what you would be doing, what you would have said at certain things/times, I cry. Not full on ugly cry. Just silently and in secret. Like a big girl. Haha.

You weren’t a fan of tears and Lord knows I’ve been trying to be strong – for mom, for me, for everyone.  But sometimes I can’t help it.  I lock myself in the bathroom sometimes where no one, not even my husband, can see or hear me.  I stay there until I’m sure my red/puffy eyes are back to normal and no one is the wiser.  On those rare occasions when I have witnesses I refuse to talk about it.  We grieve in different ways, and this is mine.  I wish I could say it’s working.

On the eve of your birthday we were all wide-awake.  Not on purpose or by any kind of mutual agreement.  We just couldn’t sleep.  It felt like we were still in some kind of dreamlike trance – wishing and hoping that you’d somehow be here in the morning to celebrate your 68th birthday with us.

Crazy, I know.  We’ve missed you every single day since you left, but seeing in your birthday without you for the first time was the hardest.

Ever since Thomas was born, the only grandchild who shares your birthday, you made sure that no matter what, you would celebrate together.  It became an occasion that we all looked forward to because we knew that no matter where you were for the rest of the year, you never failed to turn up for his birthday.  You hated all the fuss and grudgingly went along with whatever “theme” one or all of us came up with just to make the day special and fun for your grandson.  That was the kind of grandpa you were. That was the kind of person you were.

I miss you so much. 😥

So I thought for your birthday I’d update you on what you’ve missed out on so far this year:

January
Nan turned 31. Remember her Hawaiian luau-themed 30th last year? I can still see you, so sick from your last bout of chemo yet keeping a strong and cheery face for all of us, in and amongst all the flowers and leis we made you wear. This year we had drinks and karaoke on Sita’s deck.  You would’ve been right there singing with us.

February
Mason turned 29.  He’s keeping up his healthy lifestyle and losing more weight. You probably wouldn’t recognize him now. Our so-called supermodel. Lol. Still everyone’s favourite uncle and nope, we have yet to meet the girl we all think he has…haha.  He is the most like you, in looks and at heart.  She’ll be one lucky bird and she’d better know it.

Your 43rd wedding anniversary. It was bittersweet this year. We celebrated with mom at Kokobanana, for your favourite steak and lobster.

Mom and I returned to Auckland not long after. It was hard being at home, around all your things and not being able to see or talk to you every day.  I had hoped that bringing mom back with me would keep her mind off that, but you left your mark on this house too.  I know she stays in the garage most times (when it’s freezing cold) because that’s where she feels closest to you. That’s where you spent most of your time.  Your tools, desk and TV are constant reminders of you. I avoid that room most of the time for the same reason.

March
Mom’s 65th and Devon’s 5th birthdays – another shared birthday. We tried to make it as happy as possible for them.  Devon started school and still talks about you.  He keeps asking when you’re coming back. 😦

Ricky turned 12 and Sina turned 14.

April
Gwen, Joe and Nee’s birthdays came and went.  Easter wasn’t the same without you.

May
My first birthday without you. An occasion for a big ugly cry if there ever was one.  You made sure you were here for it last year.  Your usual jabs about me getting old and buying me an ice-cream cone like I was still 5 years old were the things I missed the most.  I sobbed like a baby in the bathroom that day. It was my birthday and I was pregnant. I was allowed.

Muki & Sky’s birthdays – more grandkids who miss you.

June
Your 15th grandchild (named for you) was born at 10:10am on Wednesday, 7 June.  He weighed in at 3.8kg and looks just like you. Over the last two months he’s grown so much and his little personality is starting to develop.  I find myself in awe of this little person, who is a combination of Joe and I, yet his facial expressions and mannerisms remind me so much of you.  I wish you could have seen him.  I wish he could’ve known you.  You would have spoiled him rotten.

Sita’s birthday – she said she had a big ugly cry too.

July
Tony was christened on the 15th.  There wasn’t one minute of that day that I hadn’t wished you were there.  Maybe you were…

August
We blew out Thomas’ candles last night (or night before).  It wasn’t the same. It will never be the same.  Your absence was poignantly felt throughout the (sometimes forced) merriment and smiles. At least amongst the adults. Thankfully the birthday boy was too distracted by his cake and presents to be affected.  I’m having a big ugly cry trying to get through writing this.  Thankfully everyone is asleep including the baby.

That’s about it.  You’re all caught up now.

The year’s gone by in a blur of activity and life has gone on without you.  Before we know it, we will be back home to commemorate your first anniversary in December.  I hope that by then the pain will have subsided somewhat, and we can look forward to yet another Christmas without you.  The second time ’round shouldn’t be too bad. I hope.

Because you’ve been such an essential part of our lives for so long it’s been tough.  We all knew it would be.  You were the first person we’d turn to for advice or help.  You were always there, willing and able to assist us in anything and everything.  Big or small.

Someone once said “the greatest gift a parent can give a child are the roots of responsibility and wings of independence” – or something like that.  You made sure you prepared us and gave us all the tools we needed to keep going and forge our own paths.  For that, I will forever be grateful.

I hope you enjoyed your birthday this year without us forcing a theme or costume on you for once.  Keep watch over us and visit us in our dreams. It’s been a while…

I love you, dad.  I miss you. But you already knew that.

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