Sugarbeet and I stopped by the cemetery in the morning to give him a birthday gift (a paint-your-own-pottery pumpkin she painted) and then she got to stay up after her usual bedtime and have pumpkin pie for dessert (in her PJs). My Dad loved pumpkin pie - and he preferred his birthday candles be put in a good pie than in a cake and so for many years I had the privilege of making him a pumpkin pie for his birthday. It was always the first pumpkin pie of the fall season I made - and sometimes the only one.
I shared this with friends in a FB Group last night:
Somehow, as the time passes and I experience all of life, and especially Sugarbeet growing, I only miss him more. Some of my darkest moments during my 4 years of infertility were when I'd allow myself to imagine my Dad never being a Pap. And though each moment they spent together is a treasured, precious gift, I can't help but feel this is just as bad in many ways. Yes, she is here and they will, God-willing, have eternity together, but he isn't watching her twirl her dresses and signal "touchdown" when the Mountaineers score, and...and..and...the list seems infinite. I know he sees her, and it feels selfish to say, but I want to get to see him, see her. She gave him some of her very first full body belly laughs, and today I'm clinging to the memory of him loving that and saying "she is the best medicine for me."
And this morning as I was thinking more about this, I realized. I didn't plan for, or even consider, this outcome.
I worried so much about my Dad not being a Pap (and all the other roles that might not be realized), but I never worried or thought about having a granddaughter (son) who didn't have him as a Pap. Even when he was diagnosed with melanoma, and when it came back - the sorrow was always over him not ever having a grandchild. Even when we were visiting him in the nursing home, I didn't plan or think much about the future of him not being here. It was necessary to live and be in the moment, and by some grace of God, I realized that and I did it. She laughed and played with him, she showed off her videos of playing in the beach the first time, she shared snacks and toys and some of the biggest smiles I'd ever seen. And so, I didn't plan to have moments where I have to fight back the tears because I want to tell him something about her, and realize I can't. Or to have experiences with her that I can almost hear his enjoyment or his grumbling and feel the loss of a person so tangibly that I actually feel it.
Of all the outcomes my mind imagined, of all the dark possibilities, I never expected that one where there is a child growing up in my home could be so painful.
Last weekend it was the WVU Homecoming parade. Yesterday it was pumpkin pie. Tonight it will be the Night Glow for the hot air balloons that will be launching all weekend in our town. There will always be something. Something of him that I want to share with her, honoring the tearful promise I made him as I sat by his bedside the day before he died - that she would know him, always.
I hope when she looks back, she remembers that it was with joy I shared all of these things with her and that despite not experiencing them with her Pap she somehow, beyond understanding, knows him. And I most of all hope that the lumps in my throat and the tears that pool in the corners of my eyes don't leave marks of sadness for her, that somehow she learns and understands that sadness and joy can exist together, both complete, in the same moment.
No, I didn't plan for this.
St. Michael, pray for us.