The other night I dreamed that my dad was taking one of my siblings and me for a drive on the West Coast (British Columbia, for you non-Canadians). The timing was contemporary, for we had modern cell phones and we felt like our current adult selves, in that way you know things in dreams.
I didn’t remember until an instant after I woke up that my dad has been dead since 2003.
I don’t think about him often anymore, except right around this time of year. He died in March, late in a bitterly cold prairie winter. The day he was buried, there was a thaw and, finally, everything began to melt. Ever since then, I’ve found late winter difficult to bear. Some years are harder than others; this one has been easier so far, probably because it’s been so unseasonably warm here. Bittersweet for sure.
He feels now like part of another life, one I don’t remember as well as I would wish to. He did get to meet the man who would later become my husband. For that I will always be grateful. But since his death, the two of us have moved across the country, joined or made new communities, established our careers, bought a house, assumed adult responsibilities within our families, traveled to seven countries (eight as you’re reading this!). He didn’t live to see Turtleduck Press or all the writing I’ve done here, or to hold my first novel in his hands. And my two siblings’ lives have changed, if possible, even more than my own.
As distant as those days are, I like to think he would recognize the three of us as his children all grown into ourselves, and I know he’d be proud of us for it. Or…to be fair, I don’t feel much at all like that some days, but I’ve certainly grown a lot in the past 14 (!) years. Are we different people than we were then? Yes. And no. I’m still his oldest child, a book-loving, nature-craving, slightly neurotic writer who feels everything deeply and can’t make decisions to save her life.
He was a philosophical man, a humanitarian Christian with strong guiding beliefs, a gentle spirit with a keen sense of humour. (My mother, who is very much alive, shares many of those traits.) Though none of his children are religious, we were all deeply influenced by his character. I see him in each of us, in the choices we’ve made and the adults we’ve become.
I’m no longer the little girl who always wanted to hold his hand. Yet at the same time, I always will be.
Miss you, Dad.
Note: I am taking an Internet break this week, but if you’d like to share your thoughts, please do–I’d love to read them when I get back.