The date my whole world shifted.
It’s been eight years now of marking this date with dread in my stomach, hurt in my heart.
Eight years since the day my dad was told he was dying. And there wasn’t anything he could really do to stop it.
He couldn’t be cured.
The doctors told him he might have six months if he didn’t do anything.
Maybe a year with chemo.
He met their diagnosis with denial.
Nope, he said, he’d make it a few more years because he wanted to see his 50th anniversary with my mom.
And one thing we knew for certain. If my dad set his mind to something, it happened.
So he fought like hell for each and every day after that.
Each and every minute, actually.
They were hard days. Chemo took a lot out of him.
Still, he fought.
He was a stubborn, determined man on a mission.
It all seemed so unfair.
His life was hard. Always had been. Even as a child. Shouldn’t he be able to enjoy his 60’s with the woman he loved, watching his children and grandchildren live their lives, too? He felt such pride for each of us. Our success was his success, too. We got our fortitude from him. We’d watched him selflessly work harder than any other human being each day of our lives, then hand over every paycheck to put a roof over our heads, dinner on the table. We weren’t rich. But we were loved.
And he was loved, too. Still is.
He didn’t make it to that 50th anniversary.
He lived longer than the doctors said he would.
Two years, three months, and three days after being diagnosed, he lost his battle, and we lost the greatest man we’ve ever known.
That was August 18th. Another date I’ll never forget.
I’m trying hard to remember the good dates. December 2nd—the date he and my mom were married, the date he so desperately wanted to celebrate with her.
July 4th, his birthday. July 6th, the date my youngest entered the world, with my dad there at the hospital to celebrate her.
But I don’t know that I’ll ever think of May 21st and not think of my dad being cheated out of his biggest life goal.