Anniversary of the heart

I'm fussier today than usual. I am more sensitive. I feel tearsstinging my eyes.

Amy called to complain that I had not posted today and I couldn't explain why today was different. I woke up with the nagging feeling that I had forgotten something. Something important. Like an appointment, maybe. Or a deadline.

Then it hit me. I am marking an anniversary of the heart.

I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan.  I read the trilogy for the first time as a senior in high school and have since then, read it to my kids multiple times.
Towards the final chapters of the Return of the King, Frodo finds himself back in the Shire and surrounded by everything he holds dear in this life. But on the anniversaries of the wounding he sustained on his quest, he relives the pain of his experience.

I reference that to say this:  My dad passed away on this day,  7 years ago.

Although I don't dwell on it most days, there is someplace deep inside that has marked this as the anniversary of a loss and I feel it still. Just like Frodo.

I have no regrets about our relationship. Unlike many people, I never doubted my father's love for me.  And when I was older, I taught him to say it.  That sounds funny, doesn't it?  Like many of his generation, they just never said the actual words, "I love you."  When he was 80, I taught him that it was important for us to hear it. He learned that lesson well. From that moment on, he always said "te quiero," and meant it.

He started a brand new life in this country at the age of 50 with a wife and 6 kids. He taught me that some things, although difficult, are not impossible to learn. Or even embrace.

So here I find myself on this day, like Frodo, feeling an ache that will never quite go away.

It's not a bad thing. It's just an annual reminder of how deeply I am capable of loving and being loved.

I miss you, Papi. Te quiero.