This day. 27 years ago today. I remember being able to call my parents when I was in my doctor's office after being told I had "probable MS."
My parents. They were/are my rock. One of my coaches told me recently that what they remembered most about my parents was the support they gave me when I was diagnosed - that they did not give up on me.
I remember when I came home for spring break shortly after that diagnosis - looking into the living room from the kitchen. I remember seeing my dad in front of the TV, which was a normal occurrence, but there was something different about his expression. It was as if he wasn't watching the TV but was thinking of something else, with a great deal of concern. I imagine he was very worried about me. He was also a runner, and a stress fracture took him out of running. Now I would be taken out of competitive running which he knew that I loved.
This is the first "anniversary" of me being diagnosed with probable MS that my dad is not here. It is the first of so many occasions when that reality will hit me - that he is not here. I tend to grieve on my own - other people won't see the tears - they are there when I am alone. Since I never saw him cry, and the closest I saw him to crying was when I was diagnosed and then came home, I think he was like me and held his emotions for when he was alone, like that day when I looked into the living room and saw him with a different look, as he was effectively alone then.
He was so proud of all of his kids. Every time I called him he knew exactly who I was.
Those words are going to stick with me.
And I'll never forget Christmas Eve this past year, when I looked out as I was the assisting minister for the service - and I saw him, in the pew, looking right at me. He smiled and waved and I smiled back. He was so proud of how far I had come. I think his goal was to make it to Christmas Eve and then to Christmas, to be with his family at a time when he knew he was not well, and to smile and do the best he could to be present with us those two days.
This year, on this day, I remember my dad, his support for all I have done in life, him looking up at me on Christmas Eve as the proud father he was - I'll never forget that moment.
27 years. He saw me get worse. And he saw me get better. And we'll run together in my dreams.
Miss you, Dad.