A year ago today I woke up thinking I’d spend my day as I did the day before. The place that’s flooded with flowers, tissues, hardwood floors in patient’s rooms, very good muffins, and a sadness to it that I’m sure never leaves. I had never thought that hospice would be a place that I’d want to be but I would have taken it over waking up to my mom crying in the kitchen as she told my sisters and I that our dad hadn’t made it through the night; that he died two weeks before the expected time frame had told us he would.
Today is the end of every line that started with “a year ago”. A year ago, we celebrated his birthday with him. A year ago we he was smiling. A year ago he drove to WC just to take me to lunch. A year ago we all went out to dinner together. A year we celebrated the end of the semester with chipotle. A year ago he was diagnosed. A year ago he told us. A year ago we floated between hospital rooms, rehab facilities, UPENN and Newtown to visit him wherever he was.
All of those statements get a new beginning on this day. A year of “two years ago today” awaits.
This past year we celebrated him every way we could by thinking WWDD- what would dad do?
How happy would he be to celebrate another daughter going to her dream school, one as captain of the cheerleading team, one with an internship, one making it to the district swim meet, one who turned 21 (to share his love of alcohol), one who has her first boyfriend? How hard would he glare at the new boyfriends? What would he have wanted for his birthday this year? How big would he have smiled at all of the good things? How big is he smiling watching over us?
Over the last year we’ve thrived (or that’s at least that’s what mom says). It’s been a year that I thought I’d never have to see or experience. And a year ago today I had no idea what it would entail. I thought my world would turn into a black hole but instead our angel continued to show us how great life can be and how happy we should be to keep living.
Dad lived everyday before he was sick as the happiest he could be. He thought he would beat cancer easier than we beat a cold. And he probably even assumed he would walk out of hospice.
Every memory that I have gets further away as we make new ones that would make him proud. Diving for the microwave, dancing with his credit card, taking part in the ice bucket challenge, and making us laugh every single day all live on within us.
A year ago today we celebrated him appropriately- three girls collectively drinking an impressive amount of adult beverages. Today, we celebrate him with a tree in the place I grew up and where he met so many of his favorite people. A representation of life and how much he lived everyday. And yes, a bottle of his favorite beer, fat tire, will be poured onto the tree.
About six months ago someone told me that it’ll never get better, it’ll just get easier. I’m not sure how much easier it actually is, but I know it’s only because we have one hell of an angel that we’re still loving life as he would want us to.
A beer is raised to you tonight.
He also made sure that we had a great team of people to help us get through this. So thank you to Jenny Lynn for making sure we were always okay and for going above and beyond ex- wife duties (she wrote the book of ex- wife duties because there’s absolutely nothing that one has to do- she’s just amazing). You’ve kept us afloat and happy and continue to keep him alive for us. Nothing you do isn’t appreciated and you are more than loved.