I know that the official date of dad's "loss" is Nov. 29, 2007 but I also know the real date he left us was Nov. 26. That day, for me, was harder than today. I found myself the entire day on the 25th reminding myself that one year ago was the last time I saw my father alive. I remember what I said or at least I try to. I remember that I just wanted to get him home out of that awful hospital where we could love him and care for him.
For a year I have carried with me the burden of lost moments. I was the one who kept insisting that we needed to let him rest. That although they let people in ICU now days we should keep our visits short so he could sleep and get strong and come home. I have punished myself over and over with the guilt of time. Why didn't I see it? Why didn't I realize that it was the last chance? I thought I was doing right. I thought I was helping him. For a year I have seen daily this precious time that I did not allow us to have with him. This was my fault. Mine alone. I thought we had time...but we did not.
I cry for the man my son has become this last year. The pain that he hides. The maturity he has gained. I cry the tears my dad would have cried. The pride he always had in him that only now would be intensified a thousand times with High School honors, his first semester of college and finally getting that drivers license.
I cry for my mom who has been to hell and half way back. The loss of her best friend, her protector, the love of her life. How hard it has been for her. She has taken great strides the past few months and is finally feeling the sun again even though she is still lost without dad.
I cry most for me. For the little girl I will always be inside but no longer outside. I cry for the love I have lost, the love that only a father can have for his little girl. I will never feel that love again. I will never feel that safe again. And I cry those tears of lost moments from a year ago when a little girl only wanted what was best for her daddy but wound up instead leaving him alone those precious last days that would lead to the end.
But we bravely head into the 2nd year without my dad. Wiser people than I have told me that the "year of firsts" is the hardest and that now it will still be hard but not in the same way the first year was. My son will grow even more confident and independent. My mother will learn to walk a little farther. And I will live with the personal guilt that I could have had more time with my dad..if only..but I will try to be kinder to myself about that, if I can.