I ignored the encroaching thoughts all day. Every time they came close a deep-seated fear and anger started to rise up in me, and I pushed back forcefully. There was work to be done. Parenting duties to take care of. Dishwashers to unload.

But now it’s after dinner. The kids are relaxing. I’m listening to Nils Frahm and trying to catch up on some work. But the thoughts that have been circling all day will simply have no more of my rejection. They break through the defenses, and I am powerless.

Today is Dad’s birthday. The second one without him. It’s supposed to be easier by now, but it isn’t. The sadness might slowly be subsiding, but the anger is taking its place with a vengeance. The injustice of it all — of not having him around any more to be my rock and safe haven. The selfish need to sit with him and have his calm presence wash over me. I need him more than ever, and he’s not here, and I’m mad about it.

But most of all, I miss him. Because he’s my Dad, and I love him, and it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you.