Today is the second anniversary of my dad's death. I am thinking a lot about him, as I always do. My grief, while still palpable and thick, is different now. I smile and laugh often when I think about him and cry far less frequently.
In a moment of quiet contemplation a few weeks ago, I asked myself what I miss most about my daddy. I first answered— his advice (he was such a great advice giver and I still rely on his words of wisdom) and his "I love you's" which were unique and sincere and full of genuine intonation (and it was the very last thing he ever said to me, which I treasure beyond measure). But when I am truly honest with myself, my answer is much more selfish. I miss who I was when I was with him. He made me a better person and I always liked who I was, in his presence, not only through his (bias) eyes, but through my own. I was always at my best with him — he made me (and so many others) feel happy, special, and important.
Right after he died, I totally understood one of my favorite author Anne Lamott's words of wisdom about her own dad's death. She wrote, "Sometimes when I've done something fabulous, I feel like a gymnast who has performed a flawless routine in an empty auditorium." Truly, it was my dad I always aimed to please and impress. Two years later and that empty auditorium feeling remains— I still long for him to cheer me on through life, encourage my brothers, and watch my children grow up. But I am also finding some peace with the emptiness, a reframing of grief as a measure of tremendous love.
On this second anniversary— I miss him. This I am sure will never change. But I am grateful, so very grateful for him. And this I know will never change either!
"And can it be that in a world so full and busy the loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!"
~ Charles Dickens