I’m sitting here thinking, “I don’t really even know what to write.”
My wife would tell me, “Then just write that. Be honest. Other thoughts will come.”
Today is the fourth anniversary of my dad’s death. I’m not a big fan of using the word anniversary for it, but it is what it is, right?
It also happens to be International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.
So, there’s that.
Right now I’m feeling kind of like, “Why are you continuing to write? This is NOT helpful. You should be giving information about the ISOSLD thing and how things are better now than they were and all that…”
Here’s the deal, though: That’s not how I’m feeling. I’m listening to Julien Baker and feeling melancholic. And you know what? That’s fine.
I’ve found, without fail, that when I write what I’m actually feeling…it resonates. Even if I’m embarrassed or scared or whatever.
So, here’s what I’m feeling right now. Today. On International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. On the fourth anniversary of my dad’s death.
I’m feeling like it’s been a tough week, but it’s been bearable.
Thursday would have been my grandpa’s 99th birthday. He died about a year and a half before my dad. I always forget how close after his birthday my dad killed himself. Every year I forget. You’d think I’d remember that.
I remember sitting with my dad while grandpa was in hospice and noticing a little spiral notebook in his hand. My dad wasn’t a writer. I asked him what it was and he said he’d been writing down the things he loved about his dad. He wrote words like loyal and hard-working and strong and brave and helpful…I’ll never forget that.
How are things for me now, four years later? I don’t think about him every day. I don’t feel as devastated as I used to. I miss him just as much and I wish like hell he was here, but it isn’t a constant undercurrent or anything. Certain things still remind me of him. Like, the other day I got a bunch of stuff at the grocery store that I had at his house when I’d visit every other weekend growing-up. That was kind of fun, actually.
Whenever my kids have concerts or Claire has a basketball game, I wish he was there. Not only to see and support them, but those were moments I loved being with him. Laughing together, trying to stifle it so people wouldn’t get mad at us. Talking about the Badgers and Packers and this year especially, the Brewers. Those are the times I’m reminded that he’s gone and wish he wasn’t.
If I’m really honest, it’s just been a tough year overall. So, it’s kind of one of those things where I’m like, “Hey, dad. I love you. I miss you. But, I have a lot of shit to do. And it’s all really good. I’m really excited about it. I wish you were here to watch what happens. Julie is amazing, but you already know that. The thing is, though, she’s more amazing than you ever knew. Sam is taller than me now, but he usually doesn’t rub it in. He’s doing No Shave November and has a pretty good ‘stache going. Julie keeps teasing him about it, which doesn’t go over real well, as you might imagine. Anna is growing up fast and I’m not sure I like it. She’s amazing, though. She has these two great friends from gymnastics, Denise and Joclyn, and they make these cool little videos on Instagram of them doing gymnastics things and TONS of people watch and like them. It’s pretty neat. She also does this thing at bedtime where she kisses Julie on the cheek, but she just lightly presses her lips to her cheek and Julie HATES it and Anna and I laugh so hard we almost pee our pants. I’m pretty sure Julie gets legitimately mad about it. It’s the best. And Claire…oh, Claire Bear. Dad, she’s SO funny. And she never stops talking. The other day she was explaining what dating is like in 5th grade and I almost had to pull over on the way home from gymnastics. She’s playing basketball and is a starter. You know I’m competitive, so when I watch her grab a rebound and then stand there and look at the girl she knocked over to get it, feeling bad instead of clearing it and running up the court, I’m like, “CLAIRE! GO!” Julie, on the other hand, is like, “Oh, my sweet sweet Claire.” Drives me nuts. But it is pretty damn cute. Anyway…things here are good. And getting better. Every day. Ok, I’ll check in again with you later. Love you.”
Well, apparently I needed to do that.
Felt really good, actually. It’s been a while since I connected with him like that.
And maybe that’s the best way to describe how things are with me in relation to my dad’s suicide four years later.
It’s been a while, but it still feels good to connect.
Love and miss you, Dad.
That won’t ever change.