That Strange Empty Feeling

Downer time, kids... Today is my Dad's 60th birthday. At least it would have been if he was alive. He died last year on July 16th of a heart attack. I realized that today was his birthday this morning while I was in the shower. It's sad and I feel like I should call him and wish him a happy birthday, but I can't, so I talked to him a little bit instead. It always makes me feel strange to talk to my dad, because he was many different people (he suffered from bipolar disorder and alcoholism). So I talk to the dad I remembered when I was about 10 years old, before his various diseases made him the stranger he was when he died.

Unlike other people who I love and have passed over to the other side, I don't ever feel like my dad is around. I haven't ever felt his presence (although I've really tried, like in finance class last quarter when I really could have used his guidance...) and while it's disconcerting, I certainly understand. Dad and I weren't speaking to each other when he died. His alcoholism had gripped him hard and he was struggling. Unfortunately, he was very mean when his self-hatred was winning and I just couldn't stand there trying over and over to save him anymore.

After he died I found one of his journals and one of the entries from a few years ago when he was briefly sober ended with the line "If you ever want to find hell on earth, just start drinking." To see his ruined, crooked handwriting resume as he once again succumbed to his addictions was heartbreaking. I used to make him cards for his sobriety anniversaries; he saved every one.

I can't really say that I miss the dad of my teenage years, but I really do miss the dad of my childhood. He was a silly, creative, loving person who always had time for us (when he wasn't travelling for work) and used to let us do all sorts of stuff that most parents today would be appalled at. He took us snowcamping, we took roadtrips and shared the National Enquirer, we went skiing and kayaking and rock climbing... His death was a relief to him and to the family, but man, I miss my fun dad.

Here are some pics of fun dad and us as kids (I had to make it big so y'all could see):

My parents trekking:

This is my Dad's view; Cloud's Rest, Yosemite: