To my dad on what would be his 50th birthday
Happy birthday, Dad!
Today, you turn fifty. FIFTY. Five zero. You’re old, man.
In a lot of ways, I can’t imagine not wishing you were here, but I also know I’m okay even though you’re not. In your wake, you left a tribe of hall-of-fame humans who have supported me through every school play, graduation, adventure and heartbreak.
I tried to call you once. Maybe it was the rocks kicking up on the mud flaps, maybe it was the pause between songs, but for a moment I wasn’t the girl missing her dad. I picked up the phone and pulled over on that dirt road as crocodile tears fell into my steering wheel. You weren’t going to answer because I tried to dial a phone number you’ve never had. You weren’t going to hear about the simple, normal day that took a hard left when I learned I’d be in Oklahoma State’s Homecoming Royalty. But, maybe you already knew.
You’re real to me. As real as you ever were.
Whether intentional or not, the relationships you cultivated created ripples that have been steadily growing and increasing in intensity. Sometimes I’m not sure where my memories stop and where others’ memories begin. I hear your laugh rustling every time Sammy Kershaw comes through the FM speakers and wonder if mine sounds the same.
As I watch my friends bring new humans to the world, the realness of your love has amplified. Through them I see how much you didn’t want to leave. As my best friend cried her way through a terrible movie because she couldn’t imagine a world where she wasn’t here for her kids, I told her, “they’d know. We’d all make sure they know.” And, they would.
Because I know.
I know as I stand on a ledge at the Grand Canyon, as I make another pass on I-40, as I watch the sun set on another adventure. I know.
I’m good. I’m really good.
P.S. Mobile phones are computers connected to the internet now. I know, weird.