It was your birthday the other day, four days ago, to be exact. You would have been 77 years old, and had you been here, we would have celebrated all together as a family. You would have opted to do a big BBQ or have Chinese food. You would have been counting down the minutes for all of us to arrive, especially the grandkids. You would have either had a limone and cioccolato gelato cake or a classic lemon bunt cake that I would have made you. The house would be full of loud laughter because God knows we aren’t a quiet bunch, and you’d be smiling ear to ear because more than any gift that anyone could buy you, you would have had everything you needed right there next to you. Sadly that wasn’t the case, and it hasn’t been the case for your last five birthdays.
I’m not ok, and I haven’t been ok without you. I tried so hard leading up to your birthday to prepare myself and stay positive. It’s been almost six years now that you’ve been gone, and I should have this by now and be used to this, right? Well, I’m not, and I don’t think I ever will be. It’s so frustrating because I have so much to tell you, questions I need to ask you, and advice I need from you, but you’re not here. I can feel you near me, but I can’t see you, and it kills. It just really sucks. It sucks that my birthday visits to you now are spent at the cemetery talking to a fuckin marble wall as I hug the plaque with your picture and name on it while my tears flow down onto it. I’m not ok, Papa.
I tried to keep myself busy and distracted with things to do that day. Things that I knew would make you happy and proud, things you loved, things I love and things we would do together. I went looking through old photographs hoping maybe I would find a new one of you that I have never seen before or perhaps an old one that I haven’t seen in years that would be like new again. I picked up lemon bombe at the bakery because it was something we both enjoyed, but I couldn’t eat it; I couldn’t eat anything that day. I put up your big massive Italy flag outside the house in preparation for the Italy match against Turkey the next day and then found your Azzurri flag and put that on my truck. I also made sure to spread some kindness to those around me that day as well, as it was always something you used to do, and it’s something that has always brought the both of us so much joy. I thought I was doing ok; I seriously thought that asides from the tears at the cemetery, maybe just maybe, I was coping a little better this year.
I even went to drop something off to one of my best friends, and as we sat outside, he asked how I was and how I was coping, to which I replied…”I’m ok,” although my heart was aching, and maybe I said it in hopes that by saying it out loud, I would convince myself otherwise. As I was getting ready to leave, it was clear to me that I was not ok, but I pushed through it, and I drove off. I had my music up and windows down just how I like it because that makes me happy. Quickly I realized that I lost my dad’s Azzurri flag. At that moment, all the emotions I had suppressed had come up, and it wasn’t good. I panicked and quickly texted my friend to see if it was out front of his place as I began to backtrack. You see, it had nothing to do with the flag but everything to do with my dad. It was his flag, something that could not be replaced because it was HIS! It was his flag for his truck that he bought when he was alive and well. My heart sank, and again the tears took over. My friend texted and tried his best to calm me because he knew how upset I was, but it didn’t work. A few minutes later, he called and told me to go back because he had found it. Again it wasn’t so much about the flag; it’s a fuckin stupid flag; it was about the connection to my dad, and with it being his birthday, my thoughts, feelings and emotions were amplified tenfold. I was not ok; I am not ok!
I have said it numerous times before that time may heal many things, but when it comes to grief, it doesn’t do shit! Maybe you get a little used to that person not being around anymore, but you will never get over that loss, that pain, that empty feeling when you go to pick up the phone to call them only to remember that they are no longer here. This time of year is tough without you, Daddy. Your birthday, then Father’s Day, followed by the anniversary of your passing. The lead-up to all these days is extremely difficult. They are full of memories from the last birthday we spent together, the last Father’s Day, and of course, those final weeks we had together leading up to that moment I watched you take your last breath. That most painful fuckin moment when you left us forever, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it from happening.
Papa, I know I promised you that I would be ok and it was ok for you to go, but I lied because I’m not ok, I’m not ok without you here!