I turned 24 today. And as I bobbed my head out from under the quilt this morning, I thanked God for giving me another year and yet another chance to do my damnedest at making the new one better. Today wouldn't have been as hard as it is had it not been my Dad's birthday, too. He would've turned 64 and oh, how handsome he would've looked at 64. The various first anniversaries after a loved one's passing are always the worst: their first birthday, your first birthday, anniversaries and Eids. These days come rolling around even though the one you love is gone.
There is a sign leaning up against a tree across the hospital's emergency exit that reads: "If tears could build a stairway, and memories could build a lane, I would walk all the way to Heaven. And bring you home again." I see it whenever I go out for a smoke and I remember Dad every time. The logical side of me says it's just some mawkish bit of poetry. But the emotional side, which has lately been calling the shots in my psyche, doesn't want to hear it, because that's exactly how I feel.
I saw that sign again today when my friend and I went out for a breath of fresh air, and I cried. My family has moved out of one community - those who celebrate with their living fathers - into the one that goes to the cemetery and celebrates with memories. I wish I could have put my membership off a lot longer, but so many of my friends lost their Dads when they were in their teens that I feel like I have no right to complain. For now, though, I grab peace in bits and pieces but it's the sort that exists alongside a kind of perpetual mourning and restlessness as I picture us singing along, harmonizing our voices, dancing the familiar dance and matching each other's steps; ancestor and descendant, teacher and student, father and daughter.
You prepared me to carry the threads you laid down when you moved on. And though, I've got an ocean full of tears and a stack of memories a hundred stories high, but still no way of getting you back from Heaven, I just hope I bear them well.