Today would have been your 63rd

When I woke up this morning, I forgot for a moment what day it was. And then I didn’t forget for the rest of the day. I called mom on the way to work this morning. She answered the phone with happiness in her voice, which surprised me. Maybe it was just that she was awake and I hadn’t really spoken to anyone yet.

“Hi Mom. I just wanted to call and tell you that I love you and that I’m thinking about you and especially dad a lot today.”

That’s what I said to her. She told me that she was going to get some lemon tarts to eat in your honor today. They were your favorite. They’re my favorites too, though we don’t have that great pastry shop here in the big city. I love anything with lemon, which I know you did as well.

Tonight I went to a community center and chanted for an hour, which felt good. I focused my energy on our family’s health and happiness and determined that each of us would be at peace with your death. I know we’ll always miss you though. And I’ll always get choked up when I think about you for longer that a few seconds. When I talk about you, my voice cracks and I get upset. I imagine so many different things, but the one thing that always gets me is the day you called everyone to your bed as you laid waiting for death to take you. I leaned over, with my ear to your mouth and listened as you told me that I was a good son. That will always stay with me as long as I live and it will probably always make me cry a lot.

I always looked forward to coming home to visit you and mom. It’s not the same anymore. I never told you, but your hugs were a little weak. That makes me chuckle. I would always wrap my arms around you and give you a kiss like I was a little kid. I don’t think you ever used both hands to hug me back. Maybe you did. I’d do anything for a one-armed hug from you now.

I was at a Buddhist meeting a few weeks ago. It was at this young family’s house. The woman’s parents came to the meeting and they were so adorable. The dad, in particular was funny and wise and reminded me of you in some ways. I got upset because it made me think about how I would never get to see you as an old man. I know you weren’t looking forward to that, but I was.

When I looked at the clock in the car tonight, it read 9:11 and just below the digital readout of the time, the date said 9/11/2008. I took it as a sign, as I usually do when I see it in the morning, that you were somewhere out there, acknowledging your presence.

I love you, dad. Happy birthday.