My nephew turned three this weekend amid balloons, batman toys, water-slides, and cupcakes. The weather was gorgeous and the food was delicious. It was a beautiful day with lovely people.
Except that the entire time I knew someone was missing.
My father, who lost his battle with lung cancer over a year ago, was not there. And he should have been.
My dad should have been there to see my nephews hurl themselves down the water-slide in their efforts to reach the bottom first. He should have been there to hold my shivering daughter wrapped up tightly in a beach towel. He should have been there to talk with my son about the Indianapolis Colts’ first pre-season game of the year. He should have been there to tell my oldest daughter how beautiful she is. He should have been there to drink a few beers with my brothers-in-law and shoot the breeze with my husband. He should have been there to tease my mother as she struggled to take pictures with her new Ipad. He should have been there to watch the birthday boy blow out his candles.
During the party, I imagined him doing all of those things.
After all this time, I still get angry that’s he’s no longer here, that he was taken from us. It comes out of nowhere, this thick rage that fills my throat until I can’t swallow. I want to shake someone and demand how they could have let this happen. Surely it was some sort of clerical error, this can’t be what was supposed to happen. It cannot be right.
But even though it is not right, it is true. My father is gone.
This was not the first birthday party he has missed. And it breaks my heart that it won’t be the last one.