Time moves so fast and so slow at the same time. It feels like yesterday and forever ago that you were here. And I know you're always here with me in some way, but I also know you know what I mean.
It's the 14th birthday we've celebrated without you. Some of those birthdays were painful, some were sweet, and some were serene.
Not too long ago, 70 seemed “old.” And, at that age, I thought 41 sounded old, too - yet, here I am at 41 and I don't really feel that old (although it's duly noted that I no longer have the energy of a 20-something).
70 doesn’t really seem that old from my current position either.
Numbers are a funny thing.
I remember that first time I saw your birth and death dates on your tombstone. It was hard to see. It felt inadequate. It felt cold. And it felt so final. It was a lot of things, yet it wasn't an accurate representation of your presence - the life you led and the lives of those like me who carry you in their heart still. I really avoided seeing those numbers for a long time. It hurt too much.
I think those numbers are our human way of trying to make sense of all this. Something starts and then something ends. It's easier that way. It's contained. But, connection and memories and feelings don't really function so cleanly.
I was 26 when we last spoke. I remember feeling like an adult at the time and I look back now and realize how young 26 was and is. You were 55. I am now closer to 55 than 26. There's so much I wish I could ask you, things that that 26-year-old who thought he was so old didn't understand that he wanted to know.
I remember back in 1991 when you put your hand on my shoulder at Grandpa Tvergyak’s burial. You were 40 and still finding your footing after your heart attack. It was a destabilizing and uncertain time. But, even in that uncertainty, your hand on my shoulder grounded me and comforted the shell-shocked 11-year-old that I was. I can feel it now. It was the same steady hand that has always held me as far back as my memory goes, that would pull me in for a hug right up to the last moment I saw you. And, on days when I need it, I know it's there still, lovingly supporting and guiding me to my own answers.
It's not the same, it won't ever be the same, but it's like we're growing together. I am always a part of you and you are always a part of me.
Happy birthday, Dad. Love and miss you dearly.
P.S. I'm still sipping coffee from your Browns mug every morning - almost religiously. This year, I'm really hoping they get you that Super Bowl victory. Can't think of a better birthday gift for you!