I’m pretty sure you cheated.
Your heart stopped beating at two in the morning. But that was the exact moment when everyone gained an hour. You literally stole sixty minutes from life while on your deathbed.
I can laugh about it now. But at 2/3:02 in the morning that day, I didn’t know what was happening.
I was wearing a dress shirt that belonged to you. The vertical stripes were salmon-colored, but you thought it looked too much like pink. Did you know that I still have the pajama pants I wore that night? They’re faded and torn and the word “Knockout” is no longer legible on the butt, but I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of them.
I ate pizza that night and watched “Friends,” though for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you which episode it was. There’s a general consensus stating that it takes approximately 40 muscles to smile. I’m sure my body laughed, but my heart didn’t.
Someone recently asked me this question: “What is your biggest mistake in life?”
I blinked, licked my lips, swallowed, and looked down at the table. My reply was quiet, but definite: “Not telling my father I loved him the night he died.” Pause. Another swallow. Sandpaper maybe. “That was my greatest failure as a daughter.”
You would’ve been sixty-nine years old today. And here I sit, in a stuffy apartment, miles away from a house full of memories with you, and I’m not sure if I feel comforted or just lonely.
I still think about you, you know. Every day. That might sound cliche, but I swear to you, it’s true. Sometimes it’s silly things like giving a tailgating motorist a hard time the way you always did. But it’s also bigger things, profound and so staggering that I don’t understand how I can remain standing when all I want to do is fall to my knees and weep with missing you.
I used to write you letters everyday. They never made it to you; you were six feet too far. At some point I stopped writing them because mother once told me that if I talked to you in my mind, you’d hear me. Figured I wouldn’t waste the paper.
Still. There’s something to be said for the empirical. I know these keys won’t bring you back. I know this box full of characters won’t bring you back. I know remembering you today or any other day won’t bring you back. Nothing I will do for the rest of my life will ever change the fact that you died.
But on the off-chance that you browse the world wide web when you’re not busy playing golf with St. Peter and all your siblings, know that I’m sorry. I should’ve told you that I loved you. It’s not enough that you knew on some omniscient level. You fucking deserved to hear it.
I love you. And I miss you. And happy birthday.