Sometimes it feels like we’re playing a schoolyard “picking teams” game with Kevin. Only it’s not Daddy we’re choosing for our team, but all the parts of him that were left behind. She picks first, then me. She’s laid solid claim to his recliner. I slid some of my things over to his shelf in the bathroom and constantly wear his Cowboys and Yankees t-shirts. She takes the last piece of pizza now and all the pickles, while I’ve become the buyer of ice cream. (No one can eat potato chips like Daddy, so we compromise and both of us work on the bag together. It takes us a lot longer and I feel like I should apologize to him for letting some go stale.)
And so on. Back and forth. Pick and choose to keep Daddy with us.
Because that’s what we’re doing. We can’t stand the emptiness, so we take on a little more “Daddy-ness” each day and spread ourselves across the house, slowly filling the spaces his death left in our home, in our life, with the bits of him we can’t let go of, the bits of him that keep us functioning as a whole even though our team fell apart.
Neither one of us could do the job properly alone. I have the benefit of loving him for a decade, learning his quirks, absorbing his magic. But she has his genes, his blood, his Kevin-ness, flowing through her, creating such a chemistry that I would swear the moment he took his last breath, his essence floated out of our bedroom, down the hall…and my girl inhaled her Daddy.
Sometimes it’s really hard, the picking and choosing, discovering each day how much of Kevin we’ve taken in us. Especially when I realize that she chose his side of the bed, leaving his restless nighttime wandering to me. And it creates an odd mixture of emotions: overwhelming grief that he’s not here with us, but joyful delight when I spy another piece of Daddy that my girl has claimed for her own.
We are keeping him alive because we love him and miss him and want him back more than anything. Maybe, if we keep doing it, keep selecting the memories and traits that keep him close, we can win some moments of happy, of hope.
And Kevin should be delighted to know that this is one game where he’ll never get picked last.