I still find myself shocked by the suddenness of my dad's death a year ago. When I look at his pictures, especially the most recent ones, I still find myself perplexed by the fact that he's gone.
Death and time have a way of distilling the best parts of a person you've lost. My dad wasn't a superhero, or an ironman type athlete. Just looking at him might even make you think he was a little waifish and underweight. Despite all appearances, he always managed to surprise me with his strength and stamina. Both mind and body, dad was solid.
As I've approached this anniversary date, I found myself imagining what I would do if I could go back, just days before his aneurism ruptured. The possibility of the sudden death of any of my family was never ever on my mind back then. Pondering something like this for my dad was as ridiculous as wondering if the mountains outside my window might turn to dust overnight. If I could go back there are a lot of obvious things I'd do like get him to a neurologist, or give him a hug and tell him I love him. Thinking about that isn't really useful and all it does is make me sad that I can't.
Dad was a driver. He drove for work and he drove for fun. His innate skill and the respect it fostered in his coworkers and friends always impressed me. Dad taught me a lot of things over the years about driving. Whether I realize it or not, I utilize these things every time I get behind the wheel (or handlebars.) One lesson that always reminds me of my dad is when I'm driving in my mirrors. "Don't drive in your mirrors" he would say. Driving in your mirrors is bad because it's an easy way to miss something important that is happening right in front of you. Sometimes I notice when I'm doing this and it makes me smile a little because I remember him.
In the months since I lost my dad, "don't drive in your mirrors" has transformed into a useful metaphor for life. Focusing on things in the past can and will cause you to lose track of what is happening in the present. There is a difference between focusing on the past and remembering someone. I am driving in my mirrors in life when I make myself sad. I'm driving in my mirrors when I get angry at myself for the times I didn't express love for my dad more clearly. I'm driving in my mirrors when I think about what I would endure or trade for just a hug from my dad. Life is a lot harder to navigate through when you don't focus on the present. Not driving in my mirrors might be one of the hardest things I do each day.
Of all the dreams I have of my dad, my favorite are always the ones where we're driving somewhere. I don't tend to have a ton of dreams about him, so I cherish the ones I do have. Conscious memories are more of what sustain me anyway. Remembering the good things about dad always make me happy, even if it is still bittersweet. My dad was a wonderful man. He was loyal, true, hard working, knowledgable and intelligent. I hope to be just like him when I grow up. One of my life's goals is to make him proud. I did promise him that much, after all.
Dad, if you can read this I just want you to know how much I miss you every day. There is a sadness in me that will be there forever. I will always be grateful for the person you made me and the selfless way you devoted yourself to this family. We are who we are because of the things you taught us throughout your life. It is my greatest hope that you are happy wherever you are. You deserve everything you ever wanted and more. I love you with all my heart and hope I see you again. My life is devoted to making you proud. I'm sorry we didn't get to talk much the night before your aneurism burst. As much as I try, I can't forgive myself for that. I know you wouldn't want me to dwell on things I can't change. I always try not to. I love you and miss you, dad. Thank you for everything.