Happy Heavenly Birthday Dad

Dear Dad,

It is your first birthday without us; your first heavenly birthday... the last few days have seen me thinking back and remembering this time last year. From April onwards things went so fast, but your birthday was spent with you – not as much as I would have liked, but we got to present you with a beautiful family portrait, a collection of memories from Christmas 2016. It is a picture I still treasure, and we need to get it framed as well; still haven’t managed to do this (typical)... I don’t think any of us had any real idea just how ill you were by then, and how quickly time would take you – I am glad we didn’t know then, I think it would have broken my heart; just knowing it was your last birthday with us was enough to deal with on that day.

Last year was spent with you, trying to take in everything about you for future memories – future days without you; this year your birthday is probably going to be spent discussing headstones, memorials and other such cold, hard facts. But we will celebrate you tonight with a meal of sausages and mash – my main childhood memory of your lack of cooking skills, and we will share our favourite memories of you, bringing the children in and making sure they keep your memory alive in their hearts... Laughing at some of your ‘Dad Jokes’, and the silly things you used to do just to get a giggle out of the kids. I might try to find some small video’s of you with the kids, to trigger some of those ‘feel good’ vibes for them, remind them how much you adored them.

You have missed so much of their childhood already – it’s been barely a year, but they have grown so much in that time; Lydia is competing in a class triathlon today, so we’re all going to cheer her on in your memory. BJ has taken his entire family (Grandies and all) on a cruise, and I am sure one of the reason this is happening is to learn from your mistakes, and be involved in their lives... I know one of your biggest regrets is not taking the risk of spending more time with BJ and his family in Australia, not getting to know his kids and having an impact on those children while they were young – one of the reasons you allowed yourself the second chance with our kids; and I am so glad you got to spend their pre-school years with them. You may be a dim memory to them in the years to come, but the feelings of love and adoration that you instilled in them will remain a warm memory in their hearts forever. They will never be allowed to forget you, or the depth of love you had for them; I will be forever grateful for the screeds of photos and videos I have of you with them over the years, and one day I will get them into some order and put them together for the kids as their own little memory book of you and them.

I love this candid photo of the three of us... 
just shows the closeness of Dad with the kids, that Ash is just lying all over him!

It’s been an emotional ride Dad – trying to move on without you, trying to figure out how to do life without you in it; it feels wrong, and yet I can’t sit on the sideline of my own life, refusing to move on... You would hate that, my family would hate that, and it wouldn’t be right. But how do I juggle and balance the grief, the big empty space; and moving on with life without you? Days like today remind me how much is missing from my life now, your birthday was spent buying flowers to put on your grave, having morning tea at your favourite cafe, watching our daughter compete in a triathlon, and having a meal of sausages and mash in your memory... I asked the kids what their favourite memory of you was – this is what came out:

- He would buy me cars (Ashie of course)
- I remember his hugs (Lydie)
- I remember he used to give us money and spoil us (Lydie)
- He bought me cars (in response to the money comment from Lydie)

But then Lydie said – ‘I remember photos of him down on the floor playing with us when we were little...’ Yes, this is the Pop-Pop I want them to remember, the Pop-Pop who just wanted to be with them, who enjoyed their company and loved playing with them. You may have always had ill health, struggled with your eyes and ears and breathing throughout their entire lives – but this is the only Pop-Pop they knew, and they loved you anyway!

We’re coming close to the one year mark now, I never thought I would get this far or cope this long without you – but we have, and we’re still here; we still remember, we still share stories and talk about you, and we still miss you. I trust as time goes on, each year gets that little bit easier to bear...

Happy Birthday Dad

It’s your first birthday
Looking down from above
It’s your first birthday
May it still be filled with love

It’s your first birthday
Without you by my side
It’s your first birthday
And what an emotional ride

It’s your first birthday
And I don’t know how to feel
It’s your first birthday
I’m trying so hard to heal

It’s your first birthday
Just how do we celebrate?
It’s your first birthday
And it just isn’t all that great

It’s your first birthday
And it’s okay to cry
It’s your first birthday
I wish you didn’t have to die

It’s your first birthday
And I just cannot hide
That it’s your first birthday
Without you by my side.

I still miss you every single day Dad...

Love you forever,


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