Three years without dad

It just doesn’t seem possible, for lots of reasons.

How have we survived those 1,095 days without him? How has it even been that long?

In those three years I think I’ve heard every grief cliche out there — “Time heals all wounds.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “Life goes on.” “You have to stay strong for your mom.” “It’s a blessing; he’s no longer in pain.” “No sense in dwelling in the past.” “You’ve moved past it by now I’m sure.”

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Time doesn’t heal all wounds. It still hurts like hell.

And it is so difficult for me to see the reason as to why my dad was taken from us days after my 30th birthday.

And yes, life has gone on, but it has gone on without him, without his hearty laugh, words of wisdom and unending love and support.

ab and dadab dad dance

I don’t HAVE to do anything. I love my mom and love being a support to her through what has been a tremendously difficult experience like she has been to my sister and me too.

I’m grateful he is without pain, but it is hard for me to see death as a blessing.

Remembering and honoring my dad is not dwelling.

And I don’t think I’ll ever be “over it” even decades from now.

During these past three years I’ve also had amazing support from friends and family who have uttered none of those phrases. Instead they’ve shown me love and grace through my grief sharing the most amazing dad stories.

As I wrote in his obituary, “Friends would describe Jeff as gregarious, the life of any party and someone who never met a stranger. He often joked that the world revolved around him, and his intelligence and ease in conversation often made people agree. … He lived life to the fullest, and he and his family never doubted their strong and forever love for each other.”

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There have been so many life-changing moments in these past 1,095 days; moments that I always expected dad to be there for — the birth of his first (Miles) and second (Charlie) grandchild, landing my “dream job,” mom’s 60th birthday, Christmases and many, many milestones for his grandchildren that I know he would have cherished more than any piece of Beatles memorabilia.

Aside from all those grand moments that haven’t been the same without him, it’s the little every day things that might be the hardest.

I still have him saved as a “contact” in my phone and instinctively have gone to dial it more times than I’d like to admit. He was my “go-to” for so much — silly music trivia, help with a story, advice and support.

On July 4, 2010, we sent our hopes and wishes into the great unknown after writing them on a floating lantern. Mom’s was “20 more years.” Dad’s was “Teach my grandkids how to hit a curveball and write a haiku.” Mine was “Long time with family!”

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We didn’t get as much time as we’d hoped, but one thing I have long said is that we were always a family that loved hard and strong and weren’t afraid to show each other that love and appreciation.

dad 1

And because dad was such a strong presence in our lives, as well as so many others that he touched, I know that he lives on through stories and memories. Our boys, although they didn’t get to meet him, will certainly know him.

So today, like every other day, I miss my dad. But like every other day, I still feel him with me and am grateful for that.

dad book

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