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before & after

Dad

{Before}

We are still without Internet access chez Rowley. So, I'm at Starbucks again. And another late post.

And it will be a short one too because I must pick up Toddler from school in twenty minutes. But this tiny post means something to me. It must be written.

I went to sleep last night, on my thirty-second birthday, and I was in emotional tangles. First of all, I was shredded with exhaustion after our trip west this weekend. On top of that, I was still riding the bliss from the news we received yesterday morning that our baby is healthy and is a girl (yay!). But. Yes, there is a but. There always is.

I also felt a tug. Of something else. Something more complicated than sadness, but in that family. I couldn't figure it out. I was too tired to figure it out. But there was an uneasiness, an emptiness, a gray layer to my day's end. Thankfully, I fell asleep quickly and slept soundly. Thankfully, my girls treated us to a post-7am wake-up this morning. (I promptly rewarded them with two candy corns each.)

I woke up and it all made sense. Today is October 5th. The day after my birthday.

The day everything changed.

Three years ago today, I got a call from Mom. She told me Dad had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. I raced home and hugged her. We Donnelley girls congregated around that antique dining table. My life was shattered that day. And, here, today, Dad is gone, his absence still felt deeply, and I am still picking up pieces. Still sad. Still missing him.

I became pregnant with Baby after Dad was diagnosed. The news that we were expecting our second child seemed to cheer him up. I hoped, and foolishly, he would hang on until she arrived. But he didn't. The cancer cells and Mother Nature had other plans. He left us when I was six months pregnant. But he was around when I found out that Baby was a girl. I remember that day well. I went over to my childhood home to tell him the news.

It's a girl, Dad.

He smiled. That irreverent and impossible and impish smile I will never forget.

Girls are good, said this man, this father of five girls.

Yes, they are.

*

Well, Dad, we are having another. Another girl. Can you believe it? I'm sure you can, actually. Wherever you are. And I have no doubt that she will have your eyes too. Deep and blue and full of life. Just like her big sisters do.

We all miss you. Even those of us who never met you and never will.

*

And so. That's it. Mystery solved. It's October 5th. Just another day that's not just another day. A day full of sneaky pain. Pain that humbles me now in my corner of Starbucks. Pain which sustains me also. And makes me remember Before. Pain which I wouldn't trade.

Time to live my life, keep living my life in the After. Time to get my big girl from school.

Masking Melancholy

My Birthday. My Baby. (It's a...)