Happy birthday! I know it’s a day late, but yesterday I was having trouble breathing or thinking, let alone stringing words together. But I talked about you with Kara. She looked at some pictures of you. She really likes the one of you holding her when she was born. “How are his hands so big?” she asked. “Look, he’s got stamps on him!” she said, pointing to your tattoos. She loved the pictures of you playing with Ava. Your size struck her again when she saw the picture of baby Ava and Dazzle in your lap. “How can he hold TWO things?” And my heart broke because you will never play with Kara like that, but I was so very happy you got to meet her before you left.
The dark hair you saw her with is long gone, now. It’s blonde, turning back to brown, just like mine was at her age. Sometimes when she’s grumpy or frustrated, she makes a face that came straight from yours, even though she never met you. She’s been able to curl and roll her tongue for years now, and I can imagine her giggling with you as you two make faces at each other. She’s starting school now. She loves it. She’s so generous and loving, Daddy. Quietly considerate and observant, trying so hard to find the line between being kind and not being taken advantage of. You’d be so proud of her.
They’re having a special breakfast on Grandparents’ Day at her school. It’s a drive and you probably wouldn’t have been able to make it anyway, but it’s hard knowing it’s not even an option. Certainly no one would try to take advantage of Kara’s kindness after meeting you and knowing you’d have her back.
I feel guilty often, because Kara loves stories, and I always fancied myself a storyteller, but I can think of so very few stories to tell about you. I just remember you there, like a mountain, solid, unmoving,a force of nature—always there and reassuring. How do you tell stories about a mountain? How can you describe how different the world looks when that mountain is gone?
And yet, the world is still so beautiful. I miss you, but as you always knew, “Life is terrific.”