My birthday has been this weird amalgam of hurt and hope for 14 years now. In what I can only describe as a cosmic kick in the groin, I remember being woken up to a phone call at 3am letting me know that my dad was found – his life lost to a massive heart attack as he was walking along a road. I remember completely losing it driving from upstate New York down to the city to catch a plane. In the middle of a crying jag, I was met with Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” softly on the radio. I remember screaming ever so loud at the radio in the car.. desperately asking whether it was true. Is it? Of all days, and all times. Is it?
For years, my family have spent the morning in Mass, and the afternoon trying to do something to kinda lift everyone spirits. Including my own. Truth be told – its never really worked. I still passed the days thinking of my dad in the middle of the night trying to recreate images of what it must have been like for him. Things that I really have no reason to think about. Things that, no matter how much I try, do not change the outcome of what happened that night. Try as I may, I find myself with the same empty questions, only met with the silence of the night never quite calming me.
I usually brush it off and get going with my day, and not really call any attention to it. As time passes, I spend my time calling my mom (i mean, it was my dad.. but this was her partner in crime.. I couldnt even imagine.. ) and spending time with my loved ones. But i’ve never really been OK with it. I never wanted to be OK with it.
This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to take back a little bit of it and try something different. I’m spending the day out in Paradise – Jade Mountain teaching at the Joe McNally Workshop. For the first time in 14 years, I am out with my partner in crime, enjoying some time in a beautiful place and stretching my creative wings. I get to pick up a camera and do something that I absolutely love- photography. I get to stand in a class and do what I really love and feel deeply for – teaching.
And I get to write this. I guess its my own moment of catharsis. Its a time for me to say that I am totally OK. That he’s totally OK. And that I miss him – ever so much. And be OK with saying that. Though I cannot change what happened, I can learn and try to be the best dad I can be for my daughter.. and make sure that I always stay in touch. Always tell her that I love her.
If I were to have one birthday wish, it would be this. If you can, call your parents. No matter what. Despite the ups and downs that I may have had in my own life, theres not a moment that doesn’t go by that I wouldn’t trade much of what I have done for just a few more minutes talking with him. Just call and say hello.
And get out there and enjoy that day you have. It really is a Wonderful World after all.