Today is my 36th birthday which means it has been exactly 365 days since I last spoke to my dad. Dad passed away three days after my 35th birthday without an opportunity for me to say goodbye. His absence has very privately guided my actions in the past year.
The week after dad died still feels like a blur. Jason, Stella, and I were on a plane to Texas within hours of getting the call. I grew up in any number of ways that week juggling grief with the nitty gritty details of making the final arrangements. I know we did right by dad because Spencer and I stood together as brother and sister and as his children to say goodbye. That was the start of letting his absence make a positive impact on the ensuing 365 days and beyond.
My decision to run the Marine Corps Marathon this October is in deep part because of dad. The training has given me focus. I think about dad often when I'm out on long runs. It is a safe space. Above all my decision to run a marathon was to give continued strength to my brother and I's relationship. Having lived thousands of miles from one another for the past 18 years it warms me to the depth of my soul to have such a bond now through our training.
And yet I still sometimes wreck myself with grief and guilt considering the different choices I could have made in the decade before dad's passing to have been a more present and supportive daughter. I do know he found great joy from seeing me prosper in Washington, D.C. and pave my own unique way to success. Two short weeks after dad passed his birthday was upon me. I honored him that day by keeping my commitment to teach our aspiring yoga teachers at the studio. It was a difficult, but rewarding day. Last October my studio partner Stacey and I celebrated the accomplishments of eight new yoga teachers that now have the tools and skills necessary to spread wellness through yoga.
I didn't grow up in a big family of huggers, except for my dad. He always showered me with affection through hugs and the constant reminder of I love you. I will never gloss over the things he didn't do and yet despite faults (of which we all have plenty) his heart was filled with love for me and my brother. And so in the past year, I've made a point to say I love you and hug my family with more constancy.
Dad's absence has changed my life, and will continue to feed me to be a fuller person. A fuller woman, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, yogi, runner, etc. I love you dad.