It is your birthday today, Daddy. You would have been 75 years old if you had still been around. As it happened, you saw only 42 of your birthdays, and then we played out our lives without you in them, I am 42 today, Daddy. I was a child when you died. It feels strange, being at the exact age you were, when they brought your body in, discoloured and bruised, the indignity of death robbing you of the vitality that was your trademark.
If your presence filled a room while you were alive, it was your absence that filled it now, now that you were gone. How does one cope with the grief of losing a parent in one’s childhood? One doesn’t. It is always a phantom limb, the pain unbearable, the dreams that the doorbell rings and you stand there, at the door, older, greyer, bent and with your arms opened in a wide hug into which I would run and be safe forever. You never rang that doorbell, daddy. I never stopped waiting for you to do so.
I grew up. I fell in love. I got married. I had a child. My life went on. You loomed behind my shoulder, watching me, at times proud, at times disapproving. It has been an honest life, it has been a tough one. At times I wonder if the struggle would have been different had you been around to buffer me from it. Would I have been the same person, or would I have been someone completely different, someone I wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with if placed in the same room.
Happy birthday Daddy, wherever you are. You have always been missed. You will always be missed.