Sixty-Nine Years & Two Weeks

Posted On: 03.22.11

Today will be, and already is, a tough one for me. It is – or would have been – Dad’s birthday. He is – or would of been – sixty-nine. (How are we supposed to speak of birthdays when the person is no longer here?) I don’t know why, but for some reason, opaque still to me, this is the hardest of the Dad days for me. I have had a much easier time getting through the other anniversaries – of his diagnosis, even of his death – than I have making it through his birthday.

It was almost two years ago, a few weeks after his first birthday after his death, that I started this blog. I know I have mentioned this before, but it was in the wake of that day, the day of his birth, that I realized – and accepted – that I was not entirely okay, that I was having a very hard time. As a result, I decided to stop pretending, to seek refuge here, to write through my thoughts, my questions, my grief.

And here I am. Almost a full two years later. And I am stronger. I think so at least. Time is a magical, but imperfect balm for such wounds. But I miss him. And fiercely. Particularly now that I have just welcomed my third girl. Truth be told, it baffles me – and tortures me – that he has missed her arrival entirely. That he didn’t know I was pregnant with her, that he wasn’t here to see her on her first day. That he isn’t here now to watch her grow. This reality – simple, sad – makes me ache.

Sixty-nine. It’s a big number. Still not big enough. He should be here. I always thought he would be.

Two weeks. It’s a tiny number. A precious age. She is so little, but growing before my very eyes. Each day, she wakes up a little bit more, her blue eyes darting and dancing around. There are times now when she looks up at me, really looks up at me. I tell myself that she can see me, that she understands who I am, that I was the one who carried her here. I tell myself that she already knows me and loves me. And maybe she does.

On this hard day? She is my medicine. So are her big sisters with their chocolate mustaches and spring break smiles. So is Husband with his big heart and big hugs.

I still miss him. Dad. Particularly as I immerse myself blindly and boldly in my best role. My role as parent. The role he played uniquely, imperfectly, well. But I am a lucky girl. A fortunate mom. Because recently, I am so thoroughly awash in life and love that it is hard to spend too much time thinking about loss.

But today? Loss is my landscape. I see it. I feel it. I trace its contours. I allow myself to.

Happy birthday, Dad. I love you. And miss you.

I always will. This year. Every year.


Maidy-Bunks’ Picnic


How often do you think of people or things you have lost? Are there certain days or anniversaries that are particularly hard for you? Are your own parents still around or have some of you lost your mother or father, too?

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33 Comments for: "Sixty-Nine Years & Two Weeks"
  1. “So is Husband with his big heart and big hugs.”


    I am lucky to be young enough to have both my parents (my mother just turned 50… child bride that she was 🙂 ) and until just over a year ago I still had 4 grandparents. My beloved Poppa lost his fight with an army of cancers in March 2010, and his lovely wife, my Nanna, hurried along after him 3 months later. So it is just over a year since I first knew death in my close family and the anniversary and the recurrence of Lent in which it happened, is making it all a bit tough.

    My heart goes out to you, suffering grief of a much closer nature, but I’m sure you will draw solace from your newest girl – as she grows, (and her older sisters), I’m sure you will see aspects of him in them.

  2. Oh Aidan, I feel every word in your post go straight to my soul. I am so sorry because I know how you feel. I too always get sad on the birthday of my dad and I miss him fiercely. I love your words here today. My thoughts are with you and your family. It’s hard to lose someone we love so dearly. So sorry that he missed all these wonderful things that are in your life. I always hope that maybe they are watching from above. xoxo

  3. Today, loss is my landscape.
    Oh, Aidan, that makes my stomach turn over and my eyes fill. I am so sorry for your loss, for the emotional tangle that I’m sure you are in right now, for the wondrous little girl that he never knew about.
    I’m sending you lots of love.

  4. Words are hard to come by as I so understand. The only difference is my father’s birthday and the day of his death are only separated by two days. That time span takes an eternity to pass these years. Time will heal … I hope.

  5. In a strange way, though I’m sorry about your loss and the obvious impact it has on you, I read a story such as yours and am envious. Having no family growing up and being in a series of foster homes, I have nobody to grieve over. Although I did hear, a little over a year ago, that my mother had died, I had no tangible grief or sadness for the event because I never knew her.

    But stories such as yours make me feel a bit more acutely about the processes through life that I don’t get to be a part of. I envy your photo – Dad flyfishing on a sunny day.

    My heart goes out to you for having lost this bond, but my mind knows that you are the type to nurture your newest edition with stories, movies and snapshots of the loving man that will always be a part of her.

  6. The birthdays of a lost loved one are so hard because it should be a day of celebration, a day just for them. My heart goes out to you, Aidan. It is a difficult road but one you are traveling with strength and quiet dignity.

  7. This post, and your words make my heart break for you. Birthdays are hard because they are a celebration of life. I know how hard this is for you. I lost my grandpa, who was like a dad to me 10 years ago this December. For some reason the day of his death is the hardest day for me. Just know that it does get a little easier each year. I am not saying that time heals everything, but it does get a little easier. On days like this I just try to count my blessings. My heart and prayers go out to you on this incredibly hard day for you. You will be in my thoughts today. If you need to have a minute or two to cry, allow yourself that time. Don’t be too hard on yourself today. Just love your little girls and your hubby. And hug them all a little bit closer.

  8. Love to you on this difficult day.

    Like you, I’m blessed with parents whose beautiful love molded me into the person I am. Think of your Dad today; think of him holding you, loving you, teaching you, laughing with you. Dedicate this special day to him. Recreate him for you children so they’ll know their wonderful grandfather. Your love for him is his legacy. Who could want anything more?

  9. Hi Aidan, I’m so sorry for your loss and celebrating a happy time while feeling sad about your dad:(

  10. I knew his birthday was coming up, but couldn’t remember the date. I wondered if the richness of new motherhood might muffle the sounds of his absence. I realize now what a foolishly optimistic thought that was.

    I read this post and think of my mother, whose father died when she was in her early twenties, and whose mother died when she was six months pregnant with me. I look at my life as a young mother and try to imagine it without my parents as a compass. And I can’t.

    I know it’s not the same, but for whatever it’s worth, I believe he does know that your newest babe is here. And I know for sure that all three of your girls will grow up knowing of their grandfather – hearing tales of philosophers and fly fishing – and what a special man he was.

    Sending my love to you today. XOXO.

  11. Aidan: I feel this. Because today is the anniversary of my Dad’s passing. Two years ago we lost him. For me, this day is the hardest.
    I will be thinking about you and your father today too.


  12. DPS


    I know you think your Dad isn’t there to watch your girls grow, but I truly believe, that even though he is not there physically, by the words and stories you share with them, he will very much be with them as the grow, and very mcuh part of who they turn out to be.

    I think you should play Verdi’s Requiem loud today for the girls to dance to or show them how to “conduct” an orchestra, and bundle up for a walk to the park to see the symphony of nature, that is so amazing, as the cold winter turns to spring. I’m sure your dad will be with you.

    xoxo, D

  13. I too, feel your pain. My dad died at the all too young age of just 48. His youngest (there are 6 of us) was only in 6th grade at the time. I, the oldest, had just finished college and moved back so he could spend those last few months at home, surrounded by family, pets and all he loved. He left us on the last day of February, 2005. It gets a little easier every year, but it’s always hard. That day is the worst for me, harder than his birthday, I think partly because it’s still winter, which has a cold, dead and drawn-out feeling at that time of year to me, and because I was taking care of him. We all knew he was terminal, but still, it’s always hard not to feel like I could have done more, even though my brain (and family) knows I couldn’t have.

    I met hubby that fall, we married in 2007. They never met; Dad never knew this wonderful life I have now. He would have loved the farm, probably more so than any of my immediate family. That sucks, plain and simple. But I feel he knows and is proud of me still and always. I think that’s the hardest part of death- you can’t share your triumphs and successes with someone who desperately wanted you to have them. Wedding days, new babies and big milestones are hard that way. For you, having your precious new little one so close to a day you would have already missed him is bound to bring that ache into sharp focus right now.

    Take this day to mourn and to love. Then all you can do is carry on the way you know he would have wanted you to. Wishing you strength and healing.

  14. San

    I can only imagine how hard his birthday must be for you. I am terrified of the day when I’ll lose my Dad. I am a Daddy’s girl all the way and just can’t imagine my life without him.

    Big hugs.

  15. oh, aidan. what a raw space to be in, as a mother and as a daughter. i hope you get lots of hugs today, and find what you need from the world, whether it’s quiet and calm or an unexpected giggle.


  16. Loss is my landscape…how this speaks to me. Today would also have been my father’s birthday. It’s the one day in March I would’ve liked to celebrate but no longer have reason to. It’s funny that he’s been gone for so long and still this o nthis day, it’s still a struggle to let go.

  17. If I have learned anything through blogging it is that I am particularly sentimental. My father barely survived a major illness and a massive heart attack. He had a triple bypass two days before the birth of my daughter.

    The day of his surgery was particularly rough. I told my wife to keep her legs crossed long enough for me to get word because I didn’t know how to go to the hospital for the baby and not know what was happening to him.

    But I remember the first time my daughter wrapped her little fingers around my index and knowing that someone had stolen my heart…forever.

    I am sure that your father felt the same about you. Very sorry for your loss.

  18. ADR- Your dad sounds like he was an amazing father, and you carry that through you, to your newest little one. Hugs to you on this sad day and kisses to your littlest one.

  19. You are incredibly strong. Cheers to you

  20. Oh Aidan. I always feel we have this time of year (and loss) in common. My dad’s birthday was the 19th. My boys are the 10th and 26th. This month was always filled to the brim with birthdays. When my father passed away, I bathed my younger son hours after. He looked at me, at 5, and said “so what happens to papa’s birthday now?”. I said “it’ll always be his birthday, always.” Pretty soon you’ll be showing that baby photos like the one above, like the one I am staring at on my desk and tell the Maidy Bunks story and so many other stories as only you can tell them.

  21. Angela

    I feel your pain, I know your pain. My father is no longer here and my heart aches so bad sometimes I think it’s not just going to break, but burst and shatter into a million fragments.

    My father’s birthday is in June and when that day approaches I feel my shift and I recognise it now for what it is.

    Hold tight to your memories, they will serve well in time.

  22. Such is life…the sweetest of moments maybe even a little sweeter because of the sorrow. I lost my Mom 2+ years ago a long week after her 60th birthday…long, but not long enough. I always find that my grief sneaks up on me when I least expect and never on the days I’m ready and waiting, but birthdays are brutal. I like to think that my Mom is with me…sometimes I feel it…know it.

  23. Jess

    Thinking of you and sending you lots of love

  24. This is a lot to deal with right now. A two-week-old means lack of sleep and hormone issues. Add to that grief over the loss of your dear father and it seems almost too much. Sending you lots of strength and hugs.

  25. I know that Rudri is in this same place of ache and loss right now. And having lost my dad more than 20 years ago – suddenly, in a car accident – the image of him is lodged in my memory as whole and healthy, still young and vibrant. Happy in a new life he made, more or less at the age that I am now.

    He never knew I married, that I divorced, that I became a writer, which was always my dream. He never knew I bore sons, and that one carries his name, as well as a remarkable resemblance to him in striking and poignant ways.

    I wish I could say that the ache gets better. It eases off and returns. And when it hurts, I think of my children. Of the joys inherent in family. And I appreciate the fragility of the life we have, and try to honor it by living more fully.

    Sending love.

  26. D

    Last Monday would have been my dad’s 73rd birthday. Though it has been nearly 15 years since he passed away, I think often about him. Quite regularly, my kids will do or say something that will immediately conjure him up for me. I find that at once I am comforted that he lives on in them and ache that he never knew them. It just is an awful truth I can’t do anything to change so I keep him alive for the children through stories. It is all I can do.

    On a happier note, I can’t it has been nearly two years since we *met.* It has been an absolute pleasure. Hope all is otherwise well with the girls and your husband.

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  28. pat l

    today would have been my Dads 82nd birthday…it will be 6 years in june that he is gone. i am saddend that he wasnt here to see my son graduate from h.s. or start college, he wasnt here to see my daughter graduate middle school or celebrate her sweet 16. i miss him terribly and hope my children will never let his memory fade.

  29. My mother and step father are gone. It fell to me to pack up and sell the home and boxes of things that made up a life where I grew up and walked out to make a life. It was both the hardest and richest of experiences. I am becoming convinced that death focuses me for life and the living of it.

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