Hello from the stars

“It’s just your dad saying ‘hello.’”

There’s a silly papier-mâché star that sits on the top shelf of the baker’s rack in our kitchen at Christmastime. It refuses to stand on it’s own two points and jumps to freedom at every opportunity when I try to anchor it with hidden tape. It’s been bugging the ever-loving heck out of me for a week but I love that silly star so I tolerate it.

Hubs took it’s latest attempt at freedom to make a beautiful connection for me. Instead it made me burst into tears asking in my most wavering and blubbery voice, “Why would you say that to me?!”

My dad gave me that star. It’s ridiculous. He got it from a furniture showroom when he and my mom bought bookcases a million years ago. They bought a LOT of bookcases. Daddy was never one to walk away from a deal, even if it didn’t exist yet so you bet your bum they gave him that star when he asked for it. They probably wept in the back room over the huge commission they got from the crazy people buying eight massive bookshelves somewhere other than a discount store.

Daddy passed in 2004. It’s been almost 12 years and I still hate typing that. I can barely say it out loud. It still makes the holidays extremely painful, more so now that my mom has moved to Massachusetts to be closer. She got to grieve. She still does. I’ve kept most of it inside for all that time so I can be strong for my mom. Mine gets to come out in little bursts of hot mess, usually in the dark at night when I tell myself no one can hear me or at the precise moment a commercial or movie gets to The Saddest Part Ever.

No, I don’t think that’s healthy, but that’s the way it is. You can add that to the List of Many Things I Wish Were Different.

This morning was just a little burst of hot mess escaping because of an incredibly sweet sentiment from Hubs. There were many tears and a mini ugly cry. Miss O was very gracious with her hugs for mommy’s feelings, which only made me lose it faster. I had to escape to my room for many deep breaths and tissues. Fortunately, I have those aforementioned years of experience pulling back such outward displays of emotion and was able to keep on keeping on within ten minutes this morning.

Of course two hours later and all I can think about now is my Dad, so I expect today will be a rough one. I’ve already said “Uptown!” one of Daddy’s favorite ways of expressing appreciation, delight and approval to at least three people already. It’s funny what you appropriate from your parents.

I get lost sometimes in what he might think of what I’ve become. He never met my husband. We had just started dating when Daddy was diagnosed and the big dinner we planned never quite made it to fruition. I remember him asking if he made me happy. I remember telling him that Hubs had no tattoos or earrings (he’s a very good boy) and yes, he made me very happy.

My daughter only knows of him from a picture in the dining room and silly stories I tell her when I can actually handle speaking of him. I never met my father’s father either, so I have odd feelings of remorse that she got the same raw deal I did, even though my Father-in-law is amazing with her just like my step-grandfather, Popie, was with me. I worry that she is missing out on something great and will grow up resenting that everyone else got to know him. My mom knew my Grandfather, though, so that’s one thing she won’t have to deal with. She and Hubs can at least relate to that with each other, but then he has no stories of his own to share with her.

I know that’s more about me than her anyway, so I try not to let it cloud those stories and just share the memories so she can know him. She doesn’t really understand death yet anyway, so I tell her that he’s with the stars. There was a super moon a few months back and she and I couldn’t sleep. I took her outside to go have a look on the front steps and she was so excited. We sat for a bit just staring up and after a bit she asked in a tiny hushed voice if those were the stars Granddaddy was with. It was all I had not to lose it completely right then and there. She was so proud of herself for remembering and frankly, so was I. It was a fairly offhanded comment I pulled out during a tough moment I had when trying to answer her question regarding where he was.

I haven’t told Hubs about that night under the stars yet. I was selfishly keeping it for myself for a while longer, so I wasn’t really prepared for him to make a deeper connection between Daddy and the star in the kitchen just yet. Definitely not at 7:30 on a weekday morning while I’m trying to make breakfast and get out the door on time…for once.

If I allow myself to think about it, though, I think Daddy would approve. Not just of the star and its antics, but everything. Hubs is a good man and I’m lucky to have him. Miss O is the best thing I’ve ever done. I have an amazing family, a decent job, a solid roof over my head, food on our table and so much love around me. I wish he could still be here to be a part of it. Maybe he does, too.

I miss you, too, you silly star.

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