Dad was always the one to call weeks before Thanksgiving to see what "the plan" would be. He would tell me whatever we decided was fine with him, but then secretly hint that if it were HIS decision, he'd like a home cooked meal at our house, but no pressure or anything.
As a Daddy's girl? I did my level best to grant his wish. Afterall, he 'd eat like there was no tomorrow, and be sure you knew he thought it was the best dinner ever. But his wish, had to encompass my mom's wish. Due to her digestive challenges, she required strict adherence to low-fat, gluten free, sodium free, and spice free... or bland and boring. It was always a tightrope act planning the meal and I teetered between wanting to soar, but feeling like I was one stumble away from an undignified fall.
So I avoided the whole cooking scenario this year. I opted for dinner at a local hotel. My kids will probably grow up thinking the way to celebrate holidays is to go to a buffet... sigh. But while there was still that familiar ache of one less place setting at the dinner table, I didn't associate Holiday Inn with Dad. The threat of the grief grenade exploding in the midst of dinner, avoided.
It was snowing and windy the day of Thanksgiving. I think I gave thanks three times for "safely" arriving at the hotel for dinner. We ate a delicious meal and headed for home. While the streets were fairly devoid of any heavy traffic, it was crossing back into Moorhead that we encountered the big semi truck. It kicked up all kinds of snow and left us in a cloud of a billowy snow tornado.
Rick gripped the steering wheel as the truck swayed in the wind. There is a collective holding of breath when visibility is reduced already, and a big truck is crowding your lane as it attempts to pass you. It seemed like an eternity as we clipped along locked going the same speed, the truck just slightly ahead of us. As we were about to exit the truck finally pulled ahead of us. With out headlights beaming at the back of the truck, in plain sight, was the location the truck hailed from... New Salem, ND... my Dad's beloved hometown. We all got a huge chuckle. Leave it to Dad to get our attention and remind us he is never far from us.
But that isn't the end. I knew it would catch me at some moment. Walking into mom's apartment and seeing Dad's empty chair was when it grew hard for me to swallow. I will forever miss not having Dad there, waiting to hear about my day. As the heaviness set in, perhaps as a means of distraction, I picked up my phone.
And there you all were, all of my friends, and blog peeps, with emails, and texts, and fb messages, thinking of me. Your kind thoughts, words, and prayers lifted me up and held me together. No, Dad, wasn't there anymore to share in the moments of my day. But in yielding to those moments, underneath the sadness and loss, what I realize remains... is love.