I was 22 when I got the call from my mom. Something was wrong she said. I had to come home right away. They didn’t know yet what it was, but we would soon learn that my dad had cancer. Stage four glioblastoma multiforme — a brain tumor. He was given just four months to live.
We were fortunate to get nine more months with him. I had moved home, leaving college behind, wanting to help him, help my mom, wanting to take the pain away, to control it. I watched the most brilliant man I have ever known die. I watched him shrink to a shell of his former self. I watched him become forgetful, unable to hold conversations. He could no longer do these insane mathematical equations in his head anymore.
At any age, it’s hard to watch your father die, but at 22, I hadn’t yet realized what all my dad, what all I would miss out on.
My dad never saw me walk across the stage to get my college diploma or to go on to get my second masters at the same school where he got his second masters. I never got to see that pride in his eyes. To share those accomplishments with him.
I never got to seek my dad’s guidance on my career or buying my first house. The wisdom he would have shared, the pleasure he would have gotten as he saw me grow into my own.
My dad never got to meet or approve of my now husband. I know fatherly approval sounds so old school, especially when I consider myself a fairly independent, modern gal, but I would have loved for my dad to meet my then boyfriend, to give his permission to him. And, then to walk me down that aisle and give me away to the love of my life.
I never got to hear my dad give a toast at the reception. I just know it would have been filled with sarcasm and subtle threats (all jokes) at my husband. He would provide insight on a lasting marriage. My parents had a beautiful marriage.
I never got that father daughter dance with him.
No more holidays with him.
So many milestones, but none had prepared me for what it would be like to have a kid without my dad there. He would have been an amazing grandfather to my little one, to my nephews and nieces.
My dad will never get to hold any of his grandkids — he has five now. He will never get to share his words of wisdom with them or any of his lame dad jokes, that I have since grown to love. He was the best at giving the lamest jokes, repeating them endlessly, waiting to see us laugh. As a teen, it annoyed me to no end, but as an adult, as a parent, I long for those jokes. I long for my daughter to hear those jokes.
During each life event, I wonder what it would be like to have my father there, what would he say, would he be proud? I know deep down he would be, that he is smiling down on me now, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it would all be so much better to see that smile, to hear that joke, to see his prideful eyes just one more time.
To everyone out there, if you can, hug your father as often as you can. Not just on Father’s Day, on all days.