10 years ago today, we lost my dad. This experience changed me (and my family), acutely and instantly, forever. This is the third tribute I've written for him here since I started my blog, each written on June 3rd, although he's touched so much of everything I've written. And just as I did one and two years ago, I have decided just to open my laptop this afternoon, with no plan of what to write, and see what comes - what has remained.
My dad picked out my very favorite dress I've ever had, a baby blue and white striped number I wore in kindergarten. He made the most fantastic chocolate milkshakes. He cried in the movie Beethoven, but I'm not sure if I should admit that here. He sometimes called my sister and me "Tiger", but called one of my best friends, Danny, "Mona Lisa." He believed in equality and didn't understand why our gay family friends couldn't marry. As much as he loved my sisters and me, I think he may have loved my mom best of all. She was his best friend, and very favorite person, and when she went to the south to visit her family for two weeks every year, he almost couldn't take it. If my dad was still around today, I can promise you that he would still hate the first boy who broke my heart. He did a dance I now do for my little kid clients called "the happy dance" every time I brought home a good grade or a scholastic achievement of some kind. I held him at my grandmother's funeral as he quietly sobbed. He always brought me home circus peanuts. When I admitted in high school that I was really depressed, he took me in his arms and told me how much he loved me. He built the most beautiful homes that still make me proud to drive past. He wrote me a letter every week I was in Africa (sure, my mom made him, but it was still sweet) and in one told me that he would always be with me. I will treasure that letter forever. When I gave him the first story I ever wrote, he cried and said, "For a girl who swears as much as you, you sure have a beautiful way with words." When he was in the hospital, before he died, I told him he was the only dad I had and that I needed him. He told me he would do everything he could to make it and I know how hard he must have tried. Even though he wasn't able to, I know he's here with me - and all of us in the family - a part of him surviving, remaining, always. My dad.
What I know for sure, after all this, is that time is fleeting and our time with the ones we love the most is far, far too short. Make the most of the time you have now because, someday, you too will cry to your best friend, "Where has the time gone?" Life is sometimes unbearable and always unbearably short, but what I know for sure is that the love survives. After everything else is gone, love is what remains.
I love you, Dad. Today, yesterday, ten years ago, ten year from now, always.