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Ten Years

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the day pancreatic cancer took my dad. It’s a marker I’ve thought about since the very beginning: where would we be at ten years? What would he have missed in that much time? What would we have missed? My dad is as real to me today as he was then. In all unembarrassed honesty, I miss him so much my chest aches. The death of a parent before anybody is ready creates this weird sort of outline where the person should be standing in your life. The outline of that lost person never goes away: it might fade, it might lose its edges a bit now and again, but it’s always there. Every dinner, every holiday, every milestone: the outline, standing there, empty where it should’ve been whole. I missed David’s dad’s anniversary a couple weeks ago (Yes, I just switched gears and mentioned David’s dad. April is a FUN month for our household). His was 9 years, and I hadn’t updated my calendar yet, and the day came and went until the evening, when David mentioned it…

Eight Years

Last Saturday, the 16th, marked eight years since my dad died, and as is now typical each spring, April always makes me feel a bit…strangled. I can’t see the blossoms open on the pear trees in this valley where we live without thinking of walking out of the hospital that day, after a week of watching and waiting and crying and waiting some more, to see that spring had happened while we were in the otherworld of the ICU. As most of you already know, it was almost exactly a year later that David’s dad died after another battle with disease, after a car accident. April? Not the best memories lately. I’d wanted to go to Arlington with my mom to visit my dad’s grave this year. But life, or really, a kids’ soccer game, and the dog, and all the other tiny details of a Saturday in the suburbs got in the way, and we ended up walking around the grotto of Mt. St. Mary’s University instead, quietly talking our way along the mountainside, stepping in between shadows and sunshine as we slowly moved under the…

Seven Years

David and I were talking about Luca, our 14-year-old husky, this morning. Luca’s age has finally caught up with our pup. The dog that used to make us laugh as he galloped around my parents’ huge yard now has legs that give out underneath him. His coat used to be a gorgeous gray-and-white that would make people stop in the street to comment, but now is faded to brown in spots, and is matted and falling out. He still follows the kids around as they play, corralling them, barking furiously if one of them steps out of (his) line–the fierce protector and playmate, always, always watching over us. We’re afraid it’s almost time. This week, I’m not doing so well with that. It’s been seven years since Dad died. Seven years ago this week, we were holding vigil at the hospital, with David running back home a few times a day to let Luca out while the rest of us–Mom, my brother, two-month-old Saoirse and I–huddled in the waiting room, or gathered around Dad’s ICU…