Did any of you ever watch the dramatic series Gilmore Girls? It was an AWESOME show that ended up with a sort of cult following. I discovered it when I was on maternity leave with one of the kids (can't remember which one) when I watched way too much TV while nursing. I think the syndicated programs ran on ABC Family - and I was immediately drawn to it for the witty dialogue, dry banter between mother and daughter, and the overall story of single mom raising a teenage daughter.
There was really one main set of characters (Lorelai and Rory - mother and daughter) and their immediate family and friends who helped support the story lines ... the conservative and staunch and seemingly disapproving grandmother and grandfather, Sookie ... the jolly chef who works with Lorelai, Laine ... Rory's best friend ... and Luke, proprietor of the local diner-turn friend-turn boyfriend to Lorelai.
In one of the later episodes, when Lorelai and Luke are officially a couple, Luke starts acting all out of sorts. Not at all like his usual cynical but adoring self. Lorelai tries desperately to figure out why he's acting weird - is it something she's done, is there something wrong with their relationship, etc... One of the local townspeople sums it up for her, finally, by saying "Luke is having is Dark Day."
The day he disappears. Closes himself off from the rest of the town. Spends the day alone with his thoughts and memories.
The day he reserves and honors for one purpose only.
The day his dad died.
Today is my Dark Day.
It was five years ago that my father took his last gasping, struggling breath. It was five years ago today that my dear daddy gave up his battle with cancer - and we were forced to make the decision no family should ever be asked to make - to love him so much that we had to let him go.
It's a hard day.
Anna was just a baby - nearing her first birthday. James and Jack weren't even on the radar screen as possibilities.
It seems like it was a lifetime ago - part of a blurry and fuzzy memory from a really really bad dream.
And, in other ways, it seems like it was just yesterday.
When I think of this day from five years ago - I can still feel the cold antiseptic air of the hospital. I can still smell the sterile medicinal smells of the ICU. I can still hear the beeps and buzzers and pings of the machines as they worked to keep my father alive.
I can still see the helpless sympathetic look in Deonne's eyes as he struggled to help me come to terms with the fact that Friday, August 12 was my father's day to die.
I'm five years out from that horrible day. It's been five years that I've learned to live without my dad. I can say that on some levels, time has worked it's magical wonders and I've learned that life does indeed go on.
I can say that on some levels, many in fact, I'm able to think about my dad and remember the funny memories and loving stories with a sad but peaceful heart.
I can think about pretending to fall asleep on his lap as a little girl - just so he'd have to carry me to my room to tuck me in. I can think about his scratchy moustache as he kissed my cheek. I can think about how he delighted in calling me by my nickname - when I was a teenager - to my utter horror and dismay. I can think about the pride and love in his eyes when he helped me pull my veil over my face right before he walked me down the aisle - or how he could barely choke out the words "I and her mother" when he was asked 'who gives this woman in marriage.'
But today, today I remember the hard part. I feel his absence. I miss him.
And I reserve today for my own Dark Day.
And I'm okay with that.
Of course, it's complicated this year - as I'm at the beach with Deonne, the kids, and my in-laws. I can't just check out and hide away. (But I might just look for some time away to walk the beach alone - alone with my thoughts and memories - alone to cry the tears that are on the verge of escaping - and think about my father.)
Daddy, I miss you so. It goes without saying just how much I wish you were here - to delight in our grandchildren, to revel in their laughter, and give me a scratchy moustache kiss on my cheek.