Today would have been my dad’s 60th birthday. If heaven exists and marijuana is legal, I have no doubt that he’s celebrating by talking music and sharing a joint with one of his favorite artists and one of heaven’s newest arrivals, Tom Petty.
When I found out that Tom Petty had been removed from life support on Monday, I was an inconsolable mess. Yes, I’m sure some of that pain can be attributed to our IVF failure, but a large part was due to my love for Tom Petty. I grew up on his music. My dad was the kind of person that would play a record to death so I’ve probably heard “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” more times than anyone else in this world, save for The Heartbreakers. And yet, despite the repetition, I’ve never tired of Tom Petty, as a solo artist, part of the Heartbreakers or part of the Travelling Wilburys. Since my dad passed away in 2011, I’ve made sure to see Tom Petty in concert every time he’s come to the Twin Cities area. It’s always an emotional experience for me-seeing him live brings me a step closer to my dad, if only for a few hours. I won’t ever get to experience that again. Losing Tom Petty felt like losing a little piece of my dad all over again.
Even though my dad has been gone for almost 6 years, it doesn’t seem to get easier. Every milestone that he misses, every success, every failure, brings his loss back to the forefront of my mind.
My dad would have wanted to be so involved in our fertility journey, probably to the point where I would have to tell him to reign it in a little. When he got sick, his mobility became limited. Being a homebody and having so much time on his hands made him an internet search guru. I don’t doubt that he would have become an expert at infertility. My sister and I like to imagine what it would be like, and our conversations normally end in a fit of laughter. There’s just something about envisioning our dad asking about endometrial lining that proves to be a little too much for us. But yet, despite how embarrassing and personal his questions would seem, we know that they would be asked with the best of intentions. He would want this baby so desperately for us, that I know he would do whatever was in his power to help us be successful.
When my dad went to his doctor’s appointments, they always asked him what it was he was living for, what he was working toward. His response never wavered: his goal was to walk his daughters down the aisle and to be able to hold his grandbabies. He didn’t live to accomplish either and that makes me really fucking sad.
That’s not to say that he didn’t try. He fought a good fight, but lung disease is a sonofabitch. While I’m still so very sad that he’s gone, I’m happy to know he’s longer suffering.
Today will be a day of reflection, thinking about my dad and finding ways to celebrate him. His copy of Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits is already loaded up in my car. My sister and I will have a cocktail this afternoon in his honor. We’ve tried this before with his drink of choice, but it turns out that Bacardi is terrible, so I imagine we’ll have to make an exception there. And finally, I plan to eat some cake. After all, what birthday celebration is truly complete without cake?
Happy Birthday, Dad. This world just isn’t the same without you.