Today marks the day my family and I should be huddled around my dad for his birthday. In a dim dining room in my parents house, we should be singing “Happy Birthday” to him and fumbling over all the names he was known by, ‘Happy Birthday dear…Dad, George, Nip, Uncle George, Pop Pop, regaining our synched choir for the last lines. But my father died 5 years ago and now there is no cake, no candles, no dimly lit room, no presents, no bad singing, no dad.
The pain of not having him has yet to go away. I don’t know that it ever will either? I don’t know if I want it to go away? The pain is a reminder that no matter how many years he is gone, I will never stop caring. I welcome that pain, on this day more than any other.
So I contemplated writing down a long tribute to the man that meant so much to my life on his birthday. Something that might be able to capture what kind of impact he had on anyone that was fortunate enough to know him. A post that would honor both his life and his memory.
Instead, I’m opting for a song. ‘Happy Birthday’.
Such a simple song. We’ve all sung it a thousand times (and never very well, not usually together, and usually much slower than the person getting sung to would have liked). I never thought I would actually miss singing ‘Happy Birthday’. Not until that first February 7th without him came. The dining room lights stayed on. No candles were lit. No cake was made. No one fumbled through the names he was known by. That is when I missed singing ‘Happy Birthday’.
So I choose to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to my dad, on his birthday, on February 7th. Because it has been too long. Because I want to honor his life and his memory. Because I want to welcome in the pain of missing my dad (and riding in the car with him, playing catch with him, going fishing with him, duct taping something he broke with him, laughing with him, smiling with him, and all the things he brought to my life).
“Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear…Dad, George, Nip, Uncle George, Pop Pop…….Happy Birthday to you…and many more.”
It felt good to sing that to him again. I really missed it. I really miss him, especially today.
I wish you could have been here to blow out the candles Dad.