My dad would have turned 61 today. Today marks the second birthday of his we have had to miss because of his death. I took a canvass chair out to the cemetary, stuck it in the melting snow next to his grave stone, slouched down on it and wept.
It's a warm day for January in Minnesota. Forty-one degrees gets the snow to melting pretty fast. It rained a little as well. It was the kind of light sprinkle that makes you think or even say, "Is it raining?" It was the perfect day to visit dad at the cemetary.
Were he alive still today, we would have eaten pizza, watched a football game, and talked about politics. I would have asked him if he thought America could be grown up enough to have a Black man or a woman as president and he would have spoken cynically to both sides of the issues, but being careful not to offend his idea of how Republican I am - even though he would be mistaken.
I would have asked him his opinion on what I should do for a supporting progam in my PhD program. He wouldn't be able to offer any good advice in specific, but he would have made me feel great just for being in a PhD prgram.
We would have downed too many cans of Diet Pepsi, eaten too much pizza and laughed a bit - maybe a lot. My wife and kids would have been there part of the time, but not all of it. It would have been a good day.
But none of that is going to happen. The days of the constant work of repair with my father are over. The constant work of repair means that we were making up for lost time in little things like having conversations about this and that. These conversations, no matter what they were about, would wear away at his regret for being a lousy father when I was younger and being a somewhat incapable father when I was older. They were his chance to release some guilt and my chance to connect.
I love my father and always have. There were times when I hated him and loved him with equal intensities and at the very same time, but I never didn't love him.
My love for him today comes in the form of missing him, of feeling a sense of dread at times when I am stressed out, of telling stories about him to my children. This love is not so pleasant at times and there is this little piece of me that wishes I never cared. But the larger, wiser, spiritual part of me holds no regrets. If the truth about the Spirit is that only through love there can be redemption, then love is worth every bit of pain connected to it.