We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. – Kenji Miyazawa

25845010_138931490885Another year without you, and my heart still aches.
They told me then that time will heal my pain, but it never really did. It still hurts like a dagger being repeatedly dragged against my aorta…waiting for that last slice to cause the fatal wound. What they should have said is that it gets better, and it does. I no longer cry myself to sleep every night wanting the daddy that I lost at only nineteen years old. I no longer wake up screaming for you. I no longer hold the hatred towards the doctors that took you from me so soon. I’ve made my peace with what has happened….but the pain is still so real, and no matter how old I get I still miss you.

I miss the way your face would light up when I would tell you about my day, or how proud you were whenever I would show you a new drawing or share a poem I had written. I even, kinda, sorta miss the way your eyes would close as I played the violin….even though your persistence of me playing made me hate the stupid instrument. I miss the way that no matter how old I got your lap was always big enough for your little girl to crawl into and cry.

I need a good cry, daddy. And you’re not here.

I’m sitting here at 3:25am the day after your birthday. The seventeenth birthday that we haven’t been able to share and I long for all the years that were stolen from us. I wish that you could be here to see your grandchildren, and that I could see how absolutely in love with them you would have been. I imagine you being best friends with Jakobe teaching him how to build computers and tinker with gadgets. I imagine Esmae putting little hair do-dads in your receding hair line as she covers you with pink and blue makeup and purple finger nail polish. You would have done that. You would have been THAT grandpa.

So much has changed since you’ve been gone. Chi-Chi’s – our favorite spot – went out of business years ago…though you can still buy their salsa and chips in the store its not the same as going there every year on your birthday and scarfing down a fried ice cream in remembrance. You  could have gotten married now, daddy. Gay marriage is legal, though I doubt I could have ever forseen you ever making that mistake again after mom. Cellphones are touch screen and thin. No big Nokia phones with changeable face plates and obscene billing practices, though some plans are questionable. What would you think about this world we live in now? Its funny how the smallest changes in the world around you make you think of the ones you love that are now gone.

Would you laugh at me owning four cats? You always said I would be a crazy cat lady one day. You were always more of a dog person, but tolerated the cat thing because you loved me. I can’t imagine you ever being in a house with more than one, let alone four. I can almost hear you screaming for the lint roller now.

And what would you have thought about my photography? Would we have had long debates about how 35mm film was better than digital? Or would you have embraced the digital age and upgraded your camera? Would you even have thought that it was something I would have picked up more than a passing hobby as a child? You used to think that I was so much like my mother when in reality we had more in common than you thought…I only needed the time to find it within myself.

I am my father’s daughter. I am your daughter. I always have been, and I always will be.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I love you.

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