I think of him whenever I flip through my iPhoto library. I usually hold my breath and skip past the February photos which contain grief bombs: close ups of his hand in mine. Close ups of his face, eyes closed, forehead wrinkled in ... confusion? Pain? Blurry photos of us saying goodbye. CG told me to take the pictures, that I'd want them. Sometimes, I'm not so sure.
I think of him when I get frustrated and clench my jaw, just like he used to do. Did his frustration feel like this, like my monster, the one that I hold in with such tiny, ill-fated muscles? I know we talked about it, how we both wrestle with a hair trigger for frustration. I wish I could remember more of what he said.
I think of him whenever I walk past a picture in my upstairs hallway. It was taken just a few months before he died, a studio portrait for my parents' church directory. I didn't like it at first, too staged for my tastes, I told myself, when that was only part of the story. Actually, I didn't like it because in it his face is puffy and the normally brilliant light behind his blue eyes looks dim. I didn't like to look at it and remember losing him so slowly and so completely.
I think of him whenever I glance at another, smaller picture of him carrying me as a toddler in a backpack. He is younger than I ever remember him. He is younger than I am now and looks strong and healthy and whole. The more I look at this picture the more his memory is painted with its mood. I see that smile, those dancing eyes when I think of him now. It may not be the image of him as I truly remember him but I want it to be part of the image of him I have left. These younger parts I'll never know. This man who I knew in a deep but deeply limited way. I want to fill in the cracks in my memory and paint a fuller, younger, happier picture of who he was.
He will always be missed. But mostly, I am missing him on Father's Day.