Today is my dad's 53rd birthday.
I remember his 51st birthday. It is, in fact, seared into my memory more clearly than almost any other day of my life. That was the day we found out he had a brain tumor.
I remember his 52nd birthday as well, although not quite so clearly because it was a good day. My mom had made a banana-flavored cake and my dad had finally found a good pair of non-bulky cargo pants at Mervyn's. We talked about the year before and how this birthday - and every birthday after it - were, by default, better than the year before, because what's worse than a cancer diagnosis?
We found out the next day: a terminal cancer diagnosis. They gave him three months. He got three weeks. And suddenly my dad's 51st birthday seemed like a great day, because he had been alive. Now every birthday after his 52nd is, by default, worse, because it means that nearly a year has gone by without him, and there are days when that thought alone is almost too much to bear.
I hate that all these thoughts come up on his birthday. I hate that I can't just take this day to be happy that he was born, happy that I had him as long as I did. I know there are people worse off than I am, people whose fathers died younger and more tragically than did mine.
But he was my daddy, and he is gone, and I miss him, and today is his birthday. It's hard to think of anyone, and anything, else.