Today is Jim’s birthday. He would have been 53. He always liked it when his birthday rolled around and he could again state that he was a year older than me. I took it as a good sign this year that I anticipated Father’s day and Jim’s birthday as being difficult…but I have lost count of the number of months since his death. The 12th of every month now passes without a blip. So today is Jim’s birthday, Sunday was Father’s Day, and searching myself for sadness, I find it is really not there. Many other emotions, but I cannot draw on that deep well of sadness.
Perhaps it is partly because every year for Birthday and Father’s Day combined, Jim asked for and received a gift of time. He wanted time to go on epic bike trips without worrying about the fun factor for the family. Or stinky boy raft trips with cold white water that he knew I would not enjoy. It was just after school got out, he was aching for adventure, and sometimes the best gift you can give a father is the time to not be one for a while. I’m used to spending his birthday and Father’s Day without him. This year felt no different.
Perhaps it is because I knew my kids would be doing what they loved even without their dad around. Jasper wanted nothing more than sleep and a good book on the couch. He is still recovering from the last semester, and promptly after the sleep deprivation of the previous weekend, caught a summer cold. Emerald was on the Lochsa with Jim’s best boating buddy and introducing her boyfriend to the sport of whitewater rafting. Jim loved the Lochsa, he adored being there with people he loved, and more than anything, he enjoyed introducing new folks to the excitement. Emerald got that for Father’s Day…what a gift!
This year, on Father’s Day, I took off for a solo mountain bike ride after John left town. I was able to make it to the apex of the ride without a break, a biff or a dab…making me feel powerful. I then returned on a more technical trail where I had multiple episodes of pulling out of my pedals and even getting off the bike….just to make me feel humble. Though there were many cars on the mountain, I saw no one on the trails until the very last mile. Popping out of one trail, I came across a group of guys, some of them fathers, drinking beers after the completion of their ride. I accepted a cold archeological relic of our time (Keystone Light), and finished my ride without incident.
So, today is Jim’s birthday, Sunday was Father’s Day…and I am not sad. I am thankful that I like my own company, enjoying trails that will live on as a legacy to Jim. Glad that my kids are doing well, and know what to do to take care of their hearts. Grateful for my merry band of brothers that relish time to not be dads, and the cold beer that goes along with that. I am happy, so happy, for new and gentle love in my life. And, I am excited. Excited for the unknown of what this next phase of my life will be.