The Missing

It's been a difficult week for me. My birthday is this Saturday (July 20th). I will turn 24 years old but instead of reflecting on this milestone I am thinking about how it is my eighth birthday without my father, how, after his death, I could never really have a "happy" birthday again.

I broke down and cried yesterday in front of my mother. I rarely do that. I prefer to cry alone in my room, buried under the covers with my face smothered by a pillow. I don't know where the tears came from. One minute I was fine and then they were there, rushing from my eyes. There was no stopping them. I started to shake.

"I miss him so much," I said.

"I know," my mother replied.

We both miss him. I didn't know it but yesterday (July 18) was the date she met my father for the first time. I imagine them young and innocent, my age, meeting one another, falling in love. A world before me. A world that gave birth to me. The beginning of a life that didn't know its horrific ending.

When everything is gone, I will still have my grief.

I have birthday cards he gave me. In one, he wrote that he would always be there for me. Always is a word we can't afford to say.

He briefly appears in my dreams now. One moment there, the next gone. When I wake up, I wonder if he was there at all. I remember his face. I can't speak. I can't move.

My father stays one age forever, the age at which he died, while I grow older and miss him more each year.