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“Have a good one — I’ll see you next time.”
Hold on to the good memories - they will last a lifetime.
My father. I don’t even know how to begin. The first man I ever loved, one of the first friends I ever had. If I needed him, he was there. And if he needed me, I was there. We had some incredible moments, and some not so great, but that’s life.
I had him for 39 years. I wish I could have him for 39 more.
Cancer stole my father’s life within two months. It hit me this morning that in just two months (to the day) from the diagnosis, he was gone. The pain was unbelievable and unfair. He didn’t deserve to go out that way. Damn. Two months. Cancer truly steals away the best ones. There will never be enough words to adequately describe how much I miss him.
Today, I combed through a couple of boxes of photos I received from my aunts when my Grandpa passed away in 2012. I found a handful of good ones of my Dad in the piles. One in particular — him and his younger sister, sitting on my Grandpa’s porch in Florida, laughing. I swear, in that moment I could hear his laugh. It echoes in my mind and cried through a smile. I hope I never, ever forget his laugh.
I know these waves will keep coming, but at least I can cling to the best memories as I try to ride them.
In my Dad’s final days, I was able to help him get music on his phone so he could listen to what he loved from bed. Journey, Celine Dion, Freddy Jones Band, Keith Urban… I guess I get my eclectic taste from him, now that I really think about it. He was able to listen to the music that shaped his life.
One thing I could do, that no one else could, was give him the ability to listen to his own music. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, he was in a band. When I was a kid, they recorded an album together. They would play and rehearse in the recording studio he built at our house. I’d go into the studio and he would play music for me — I would stand on the little stage where the mics and instruments lived and pretend I was a rockstar. I was his little rockstar. The apple doesn’t fall far. I remember when the album came out — we had a big party with everyone at our house and one of his songs got played on a local rock radio station. It was a huge moment.
He looked back on those days with such fondness. Nearly a decade ago, I decided to upload the tracks of his album to Soundcloud. Just in case he wanted it digitally and so we could easily share it with people and remember those great times. He didn’t have the link anymore — because when he wanted to listen to it, he’d pop the CD into the player and let the speakers in the living room surround him with his notes. I had it at the ready.
When I pulled up the album on his phone and he heard the opening notes to Dreams Realized (“The Summit”), a smile spread across his face. His eyes — deep, piercing blue, and oh-so-bright in that moment — glowed in happiness… and peace. He squeezed my hand, then promptly told me to stop playing it so he could listen to it alone later. You see, that was my Dad. He was always good at being alone. I got that from him. He found solace in being alone, in the quiet spaces, and in private reflection.
So look ahead and not behind you… it’s dawn.
My brother told me later that day to never let that moment go. “You know it won’t get any better than that, Sis, right? Only you could do that for him. You made his day. You have no idea how happy that made him.” I nodded, swallowing the lump in my throat. I do know. I absolutely know. I felt it, too.
That visit was the last time I would see him, and man, it was a wonderful morning. We laughed, a lot, reminiscing about so many old times that will forever be remembered fondly. I am at peace knowing the last time we were together we were smiling, laughing. I know how much he loved me. I only hope he knew how much I love him.
Near the end of our visit, he was ready to close his eyes and take a nap. He squeezed my hand again when I told him that I loved him. “Love you too. Have a good one — I’ll see you next time.”
Can’t wait to see you next time, Daddy. I’ll miss you forever. 💙