We’re inching our way closer to the looming March 1st end-of-watch anniversary, and everyone is struggling. How could it have been a year already? The weeks ahead of this date lead to constant thoughts that essentially sum up to the worst countdown ever: every day is marked by a “last” something that Dave did or said.
Not long from now, on my dad’s birthday, I’ll think of our plans to surprise him for his 60th birthday last year.
I’ll think of my mild irritation when Dave couldn’t find the international arrival’s hall at Newark Airport (to pick up our older brother and niece before the surprise) because he’d had a drink too many with friends in NYC before he came to meet us. I’ll think about how he was immediately forgiven because of the mischievous smile on his face as he found me and gave me a big bear hug hello.
I’ll think about re-watching the video of when we all arrived in Princeton for the surprise and my dad’s stunned face when one after the next family he didn’t expect walked into the living room.
I’ll think about the last heart-to-heart conversation we had the day before he left, where he told me how tough his job could be.
I’ll think about how when he said that he would only have a day and half of work coming up when he got home, I suggested to him that he just ask for those days off and just stay in NYC to hang out. I’ll think about how I really wish I pushed him harder to change his plans.
I’ll think about the last hug I gave him around 5am February 29th to wish him a safe trip home.