I used to love this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I still do, just not in the same way.
Black Friday wasn’t a shopping day to me. It was a day to start listening to Christmas carols in the car wherever I was going. To start thinking seriously about Christmas presents. To look forward to having a nice two week vacation over the holidays.
Last December, a year ago this week actually, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. He succumbed to the disease on December 23rd, 2011. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him.
Today I met with Lauren to talk about photographing her wedding next August. Lauren was a bridesmaid in Casey and Joel’s wedding that Kris and I photographed last year so I was excited to see her again. As we were talking she mentioned that her Dad has been diagnosed with cancer. I told her about mine and it was pretty emotional but I find that talking about him helps me.
Lauren said that there was some connection between me and her Dad that we had talked about at Casey’s wedding but that we couldn’t remember. It turns out that Lauren and her Dad, John, both worked for MKS Instruments. My son-in-law, Jeff, works there too! So we thought we had figured out the connection. Then she said that he was in the Army in Germany around the same time also. To make a long story short, it turns out that John and I were not only in Germany at the same time but we were in the same company, HHC, 1st Signal Battalion! We also both left there in 1988. Small world!
Later on Lauren sent me a picture of her Dad from 1990 and sure enough, I recognized him. We didn’t hang around in the same circles within the company but I did know him.
Then, on the way home it hit me. We’re the same age, with the same background. Lauren is between the ages of my girls, Wendy and Shannon. John and I are both from the Rochester area. We both served in the Army in the same place, at the same time. We both returned to this area. And he has cancer.
I started to think of all the things that I’m sure you are. How fleeting life is. How small our problems and difficulties are. How important our family is and how stupid all those arguments are between parents and children, brothers and sisters.
My brother Brian used to say, in jest, “Can’t we all just get along?” He meant it as a joke. I mean it as a hope. You know who you are. Is it really worth it to hold on to these feelings and pain? Let it go. Forgive and forget. I understand that it’s hard sometimes, but if it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be worth doing.
The passing of a loved one or a divorce is always difficult. We, all of my family, have had to deal with our fair share over the last year. Now is a time for reconciliation, for loving one another, for coming together to support one another.
Life is fleeting. Don’t wait to long. It may just pass by and leave you with regrets that you should have done something sooner.
My prayers are with John and his family during this holiday season and with all those families who struggle to find solace.
I’m still listening to the Christmas carols but I’m touched with just a little bit of the blues and I’m hoping that the New Year brings everyone everything they need. I love you, Dad.