It's hard to believe that it's been 12 years since you died. I remember bits and pieces of that day clearly. But as it's been so long, other parts of it have certainly faded with the passage of time. Just as people said would happen. (I didn't believe them at the time since you were all I could think about.)
I remember when you died- just after 7:00 p.m. and not long after we withdrew all support and told you that it was okay to let go. I remember calling Amy to tell her you died and she said "Really?" And I still found time to joke and say, "No. I'm just kidding." And we laughed.
I remember how strange- and wrong- it felt to walk out of Dartmouth without you. Without even as much as a brochure of how to deal with the death of a loved one. I remember how awful it was to walk into 22 Winter Street knowing you would never, ever be there again. And how much it hurt every time we saw your things- yet how relieved we were that someone (George probably) did a sweep of the house and removed every single thing that would remind us of you being sick.
I feel like I've needed a father more in these past 12 years than I did ever before. And it hurts so badly to not have you to turn to or to help guide me when I need it. And while I've never really reached for the phone wanting to call you after you died (thank you for never actually answering the phone when you were alive, even when it was sitting right next to you, or for passing it directly to mom in those rare cases when you did pick it up), there have been so many moments over the past 12 years where I wished you had been here. For the good times, but more so for the hard times.
I think this year is harder than others because one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) gifts you left behind, Clancy, is aging in ways I really wish he weren't. I've already made peace- begrudgingly- with the fact that we have way more time behind than ahead of us. But every day he seems to get more gray hair and move a little slower. At 13 1/2 I know that our time with him is limited. And this four-legged, big-hearted, lovable goofball you left behind that I've had the good fortune of calling mine since March of 2006, is a constant reminder of you. And I'm so sad to think of how that connection with you will change when Clancy's no longer here. I know, I know. I shouldn't get ahead of myself. But sometimes I just can't help it.
Our relationship was complicated. You weren't an easy man- even though you told us, repeatedly, that your middle name was "Flexible." But I don't think I'll ever get over knowing that our sense of "home" would leave when you died. Turns out you were the glue that kept us all together.
I miss you every day, Dad. And wherever you are, I hope you're smiling, laughing, telling great stories and looking down on all of us knowing that you are never far from our thoughts.
I love you,