Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Before Father's Day: Missing My Parents

Today, on the way to class, I saw a Dad and his daughter walking down the street. When I turned around again, the daughter and father were happily skipping down the street. You read me right, they were skipping down the street. I personally believe that it takes more than courage for a 40+ year old grown man to be skipping down the street in his suit, wearing a smile and sharing a laugh with his daughter like nothing else matters in the world.

That is one of those moments in life where you can't help but smile. It's more than just a Kodak moment, it was a "wow" moment. And sitting in my car just a few feet away, I smiled and thought about Dad. I'm not sure why I thought of Dad. Maybe because Father's Day is just around the corner and Dad's somewhere in the world protection one of the things that matters the most to him: Freedom. Maybe in the mist of all the stress and things going on in our lives, I'd like to have my Dad home for awhile, a long while. Maybe, I just envy that girl that I saw on the street today, hanging out with her Dad. Maybe, I'm missing Dad more than usual this Father's Day, because this is the first Father's Day without Mom and with Sarah. Maybe I am sick of not having Dad home on Father's Day, a lot of maybes but I just am not sure what is the true reason.

But I thought about Dad more than I ever did ever before.

Every military brat in the world knows that feeling when a parent isn't home for some kind of a celebration, whether it's a birthday, holiday, graduation, or just a simple need-a-parent moment. Somehow, we get used to it and when other people ask us how we do it, we answer with "just do" but there always is something in the back of our minds wishing and hoping that our parent would be home for any occasion, even if it's not a holiday.

When I was younger, my Dad was my idol. I wanted to be just like him and everything he does, I wanted to do also. If Dad's getting ready for work, I'd pretend I'm getting ready for work. If Dad is shaving in the bathroom, I'd pretend I'm shaving also. If Dad's drinking coffee, I'd ask Mom for a cup of coffee. I wanted to have the same food on my plate as Dad does. Everything Dad does I wanted to do because truly I wanted to be just like him.

I can remember the first day Dad sat me down trying to explain to me what a deployment is. As you can probably guess it, I was lost as ever, asking things like, "Will you be home for dinner?" and "You'll be at my T-Ball game, right?" And I think after a few weeks of Dad not at the dinner table, I slowly realized what was happening. Very slowly though, I can still hear myself asking Mom if Dad didn't love us no more and that why he left us all by ourselves. (I'm pretty sure I made Mom cried that day) And I can still remember when Dad popped up on the computer screen telling me to be a good boy and that he still loves Mom and me and that he'll be home as soon as "the bad guys went away" and like that, slowly I was okay with Dad being gone. Because I can be the man of the house and plus, Dad is making sure the "bad guys goes away."

Years ago when Dad decided to take on his current job, he took me out on a fishing trip and told me his reason to do what he's about to do. He told me that if he got this job, he will be gone more often but gone for shorter amounts of time. He told me that he can be gone without letting us know and most of the time, he can't tell us where he's going or when he's coming back. "It'll be like a big game of secret, son." he told me, "and I hope you get better with secrets, because you never have growing up." and I smiled, it was true, I don't do well with secrets growing up but now, bits older, I know that with the Army, "secrets" or OPSEC is something that is extremely important. I told Dad I support him and I hope he gets this job. "I hope so, son, I sure hope so."

When Dad did get the job, we went out for a huge dinner and celebrated like there's no tomorrow. We laughed and smiled and though in the back of our minds we know how often Dad would be gone and on such short notice, we cherish every single moment with Dad. We made the time count.

Quite frankly, I don't remember the last time Dad was home for Father's Day. It seems like for years we either celebrate Father's Day early or late. I truly don't remember the last time Dad was home on Father's Day. And I think some time during the years growing up, I'm okay with it. I'm fine with Dad missing out on the birthdays, the celebrations, the holidays, and more. Or I think I'm fine with it, most of the time.

When I got to class, someone I didn't know told me, "Happy Father's Day, Matt" and I sat in my chair wondering why she said that to me. In her own way she was acknowledging the things I do for Sarah is not just as a brother but as a father. But unintentionally, she made me wish she never have said that. Because truly, I do not want Sarah growing up with me acting as her brother, her Mom, and her Dad. Don't get me wrong, I love being Sarah's brother and I will do anything for her. And I know what I must do for Sarah now that Mom is in Heaven. But I truly wish that I won't be Sarah's brother and parents at the same time. Because I know how much Sarah will hurt because of that in the future. Some things are inevitable and I hope this isn't one of 'em.

Guess I'm just missing my parents this Friday before Father's Day.

Love you, Dad, please be safe wherever you are and come home soon.

Love you, Mama, and miss you so much. Sarah's growing up so fast. You'd be so proud of her.


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