It’s been over five decades since my father died; so long that the searing pain following his death is a distant memory. I’ve lived my life without him and I long ago left behind any yearning for the experiences I’ve missed.

That’s not to say there is no sadness in his death, but I have accepted it and moved on. And yet the past can come back in surprising ways.

My spouse and I have a tradition for sharing Memorial Day weekend. Our youngest daughter always spends the weekend at the beach with a lifelong friend’s family and we enjoy a quiet house. I mark the holiday by buying a poppy and wearing it proudly.

This year, not only was the house empty, but I felt empty too. It wasn’t until Monday that I began to reminisce about the Memorial Days of my youth. My dad, a World War II veteran, was very involved with the local American Legion post. On Memorial Days he drove World War I veterans in the annual town parade and I got to ride in the back seat. Afterwards, he took me and my siblings to a cookout at the American Legion post. I still remember the hot dogs and hamburgers and playing softball in the back. There is a wonderful photo that I cherish of my father with me and two siblings, his arms stretched around us.

It was in the retelling of this family tale that I identified the tug of sadness I was feeling. It wasn’t that I wanted to spend the holiday participating in a Memorial Day parade or attending a barbecue; it was the longing for those precious and few days I had with my amazing dad. I felt once more the reality of his absence and all that I missed; a lifetime without my daddy.

Though the years pass. we still miss our loved ones. They never really leave us as we hold them tightly in our hearts. Our memories can bring joy and they can make us sad. Time heals, but we don’t forget.

***

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.

Photo: courtesy of author

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