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Happy birthday from here

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Today is your birthday. This year would’ve been a big one – 70. I just can’t picture it. In my mind you’re forever 46.

This weekend we would’ve celebrated you. Our family would’ve driven across the state to surprise you. Your friends would’ve filled a room. Maybe you and mom would’ve taken a trip somewhere this spring to celebrate.

Your granddaughters always ask about you and they bring you up when I least expect it. They wonder about the “what ifs”, too, as they wonder about you. I love when they mention your name. I love when they stop to think about you. I think your grandson might be a southpaw just like you. He shares your frown when he’s deep in thought and it still stops me in my tracks.

We had a lot of memories yet to make. I didn’t know there wouldn’t be enough time to fit it all in. As I sat at your funeral, I had no concept of the moments that wouldn’t be the same without you here. Those moments just sneak up on you over the years, sometimes when you least expect it. I didn’t understand that there would be decades of moments where I would stop and miss you this much.

When we get together with our families, your name is still mentioned in stories we share. Although we don’t see each other often enough, we laugh a lot when we do. When we are at dance recitals and basketball games, I think of how you would be the grandpa holding the bouquet of flowers or cheering the loudest. You wouldn’t have missed a minute of any of it, just like you never missed a minute of mine.

I wish we had more pictures of you. I wish we had more memories of you.

Happy heavenly birthday, dad. For two thirds of my life, missing you has been a constant. It's just a feeling that is there, always there. It's the reason I realize how precious the days are and that I had better make them count. Today we are going to miss you even more because the what ifs are harder to ignore.

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Your years stopped at 46, but our love for you never did.

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