Every year I say it. Every year I think I am prepared. And every year this day hits me right in the stomach taking my breath and any manner of sanity and emotional stability along with it.
I was six months old when my Daddy was drafted into the Vietnam War. Apparently, I halted all developmental milestones the day he left. I sat and only sat until the day we were reunited (right after my first birthday) when I walked to him. Apparently, I COULD walk. I had just seen nothing worth walking to.
Following his funeral, my mother looked me in the eye and said, "You cannot just sit this time." She knew my inclination -- even at 25 -- would be to climb in bed and never move again.
It has been 22 years since I had a hug from the man that showed me the world, the one who taught me how to laugh and ride my bike, how to pray, and how to love others. The one who showed me the importance of coffee and a good joke. The one who thought I was practically perfect in every way.
It is no small thing to lose your biggest cheerleader. Even all these years later, there are more days than not that I wish I could climb on the couch beside him, ask him a myriad of questions about life, faith and family...and then have him tell me he loves me and is proud of me. No amount of time seems to dull the ache of losing the one who called me his angel.
I still feel the need to wallow this time of year. But Terry Mason taught me many other lessons as well...and one of those would involve a spanking if he knew I was wallowing around in pity rather than celebrating all the gifts I have been given.
Thank you, Daddy, for setting the parenting bar so high. Thank you for modeling Godly parenthood every day of my life. Thank you for still being a goal I strive for.
And Daddy, thank you for loving me.