Tomorrow is my dad's birthday. He would be celebrating his 65th year. He would also be doing everything possible to avoid opening presents and responding to birthday wishes with a 'right-back-at-ya' sort of, "Thanks, and Happy Birthday to you too". It was one of those comfortably predictable and endlessly entertaining eccentricities.
I generally do a great job of staying upbeat, of focusing on the positive, of not dwelling on the fact that there has not been a day in my life since he died when I did not miss him like crazy and wish he was here. Around this time of year my heart gets even heavier and it is for all of the obvious reasons - the holidays, his birthday, the change of seasons - I get it. I can't help myself though, I start to feel cheated and sorry for myself. I see a doddering old man shuffling hand in hand with his grandson and I think that it isn't fair. I listen to friends complain about the latest annoying thing their father did and it makes me smile, wishing I could have that experience. I think about all of the time I could have taken advantage of and didn't and a 100 lb weight sits on me. I remember that my siblings and I are now part orphan - well we are - if adults can even qualify as orphans - and it all makes me feel so very sad.
For the past year and a half or so I have, from time to time, watched old video footage that I shot of the kids. Immediately after my father died I scoured the library for footage with him in it. It is incredibly rare because he hated that sort of thing. I knew it and yet I kept watching and rewatching thinking maybe, just maybe, I got distracted and missed a frame that he is in. It haunts me now - these lovely, happy moments of my life. They would be so perfect - I think - if only I had just turned the camera a few inches.
So, in my self-indulgent attempt to make myself feel better about my sub-par videoing skill (or maybe my obsession with hindsight) I wrote a poem.
I crane my neck sideways
and look arond the camera's tiny screen
just to try to see you
I am anxious and annoyed that you are not in the frame.
I can hear your loud, booming laugh just around the corner.
You are inches out of sight, watching your grandson roll on the floor
and when he finds his face in the mirror you think it is
wonderful and I imagine your smile, because I cannot see you.
I replay it again, hoping that your blurry image will come into focus
or you will appear in a frame you were never intended to be in, because
maybe then I would miss you less.
Here is a still from that video. I remember it like it was yeseterday: