The Life of Bon: Hi dad.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Hi dad.

 It is the eleven year anniversary of my dad's death.

That sentence is jarring to me.  How was it been eleven years?  Eleven years without my biggest fan, without the man who was convinced I could do it all, eleven years without the man who buried me in bear hugs when he saw me.  

My sister called me last week.  I was making quesadillas for the kids for lunch.  Melting the cheese in the middle, flipping the tortilla.  When I answered the phone my sister was already in tears.  "I just miss dad so much" she blurted out.  Tears instantly.  That big a grief, that big a loss is always ready close to the surface.  One little poke and it quickly emerges. All we could do is cry together.

Dad.  We miss you.  Your daughters.  We miss you.  This life, this adulthood, these problems.  We never wanted to do it without you.

My life has evolved and then evolved again in the years since my dad's death.  I built one life.  Burned that one down.  Am building a new one.  The children, the love, the faith remain.  Everything else is new.  Sometimes I wonder what he thinks of the construction,  the destruction,  the reconstruction.  He loved to build.  I think he is proud.

It's happened to me twice in the last few months that someone has said to me "my biggest fear is that my dad will die".  I don't know what to say to that.  How to respond.  Your biggest fear is my reality?  The thing that wakes you up in a panic induced sweat in the middle of the night is the life I have learned to live with?  My heart hurts when people say that.  Why does it get to be some people's fears and other people's realities?  (And why am I "other people").  Maybe I respond with the truth.  Maybe I say, "Your biggest fear is every bit as horrible and lonely and soul wrenching as that nightmare in the middle of the night makes you think it will be."

But I pivot.

I'm not here to bemoan.

Not tonight.  I've done that plenty in the last eleven years.  Plenty of grieving, plenty of acknowledging loss, plenty of missing, plenty of screaming to the nameless sky.  There is a lot of loss and I have met that loss.

Tonight I come with gratitude.  I read some of my dad's journal entries recently.  Whenever he mentioned me he was filled with awe.  "Bonnie called today, she got all As this semester" "Bonnie home for the weekend from BYU, she is full of joy and energy" "Bonnie broke up with her boyfriend and is feeling sad.  I didn't much like him."  In all the entries his love for me shined through.  It was wild to read it.  To see so clearly how absolutely crazy he was about me.  To be on the parenting side of it now, to relate to the intense love he had for his children and to realize, wow, that lucky child, that receiver of so much love, was me.  

Tomorrow I will take my kids, my thing 1 and thing 2.  We will go to his grave and drink cherry coke and listen to Credence Clearwater Revival and I will tell them about their Baba, the man they never got to meet, the grandpa who would have been as smitten with them as he was by me.  I will tell them how I totaled a car in high school and he made me work out in the garage with him on cold winter evenings repairing it.  I will tell them how after I went skydiving in Hawaii he bragged to all his patients about it.  (She jumped out of an airplane at 14,000 feet.  Can you believe that? 14,000 feet!). I will tell them how he would always nap in the living room after Sunday dinner while the kids cleaned the kitchen and how he would shush us for being too loud putting away the pans.  I will tell them how he used to make me eat my vegetables and I would hide them in my roll and so he would make me eat the roll and belly laugh as I tried to stomach down a roll stuffed with orange squash.  I will tell them how he smelled like Old Spice and how his work desk was always messy.  I will tell them how when Unchained Melody came on the radio he took my mom and danced with her and held her close and how he had so much love for her, for us, for them. 

And I will tell them what a gift it all is.  To be his children and grandchildren.  To have that much love, to give that much love, to receive that much love.

Yes.  What a gift it all is.

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