All of this is enough, every year, to make me crazy or reach for a brown bottle. With a long neck. Wink wink.
But this year, it's hard to really get into any of it, because the one (sorry, guys) that I most want to celebrate is conspicuously absent. A week from today is Dad's 66th Birthday. Last year he turned 65, and while we couldn't do what we wanted to do because of his health and treatments (rent a houseboat, a dream of his), we were able to celebrate BIG...with a surprise visit from Ronny, who told Dad that weekend that they were coming home early from Taiwan. Somewhere on one of the blogs, we posted a picture of me & my family taken that Saturday last year. I don't know when the last one was taken before that, maybe at my wedding, or if one was taken after. I don't think so. So it's a special picture, even though Dad looks well, sick, and we're all sitting on my couch that doubled as Dad's bed when he visited. Only I care about that, right?
More and more every day, it's getting hard to smile and push through, because every day there's something else I want to tell him or show him or run by him...every day he's not HERE. Ronny's planned a great weekend next weekend when we'll get together and eat Dad's gumbo and celebrate his life and birthday...but he won't be there, and I just don't know how to do it. I know we'll all get through it, one step at a time. We don't have a choice, right? I don't mean to be all poor us on Saturday morning, and I don't mean to take anything away from the people we ARE lucky enough to celebrate with this week. But that's what's on my mind, and in my heart. I want to spend time with my Dad, I want to celebrate him. I want to watch him open his birthday gifts and place bets on how long it will take him to spend $50 at Academy, $1 at a time. I want to watch him open the apple I know Kayci would wrap for him, and the unh-unhs we'd probably wrap up from Noble. I want him to hear Noble laugh, and hear Kayci talk about her Science Vocabulary test in first grade. I want to whine to him about how tired I am after our trip last week...and then tell him about all of the things we saw that made me think of him. I want to get him a new Grandpa's fishing team shirt that we forgot to buy after Noble's birth--how did we miss that? I want so much...normal. But for today, I'm remembering a year ago at the Bread Basket, seeing Ronny for the first time after a few months (the longest we'd been away from him since the Marines), Noble's snot bubble at breakfast, seeing Timmy & Emma...building Sami the craziest dog house ever. It was a good day. And that's enough, I just need to remember that. These are good days, too...there's just someone conspicuously absent. I'm grateful for the good days present and past, and that's what I try to focus on. But somedays I let my mind go and remember and wish, and this is what I think about.