When we went on our vacation last week I was feeling very fragile. A few days before we left I had a breakdown, crying over my Gramps. It took me days longer than usual to pack. It was all harder for some reason. I expected it to be hard to see my husband’s grandfather. Grandpa Joe is my dad’s age, and a lovely man. Having just lost my grandfather, I didn’t know how I would feel seeing him and talking to him, and seeing him with my daughter.

It was fine. It was lovely. I was so glad to see him, and chat with him, and get pictures of him. I always made a point of getting pictures of my Gramps with my daughter. I never made a point of getting pictures of my Dad with her. I have three blurry photos of them together.

It was fine. It was good. We got to see family we haven’t seen in too long, the kid got to hang out with cousins.

We were there for a wedding. The ceremony was lovely. We camped out at a family house before the reception laughing and chatting. I love Joe’s family and they are incredibly welcoming. When it was time for the reception we were all ready to dance the night away. And then there was the father-daughter dance with the bridge, and that’s when I finally lost it.

The tears flowed. I could not stop them.

I didn’t do a father-daughter dance at my wedding. I didn’t have anyone walk me down the aisle. My Gramps wouldn’t have been able to – he was walking with a cane at that point – and I wasn’t sure I wanted my Dad to – that would imply a closer relationship than what I felt at the time. Instead I walked up and Joe met me halfway.

I don’t have any pictures of my father at my wedding either. He left before we started taking the pictures. At the time I was angry with him – why would he just leave? And then later I realized that I had never asked him to stay to be in the pictures. Had it occurred to me, I would have a lovely picture of me, in my wedding dress, with my Dad and his partner. She was in his life for 15 years, she’s still an important part of mine.

And so that day, as I cried at a cousin’s wedding, I remembered the things I failed at with my Dad, the things I missed out on with my Gramps. The time I don’t get. I had the benefit of so much time with my Gramps and I still miss him. I missed out on so much time with my Dad and we were getting so much better.

I am so much better than I was.

There was a time that I didn’t think my father deserved to have me in his life, but I failed to realized what the healing could have meant for me.

At my wedding, my brother suggested that ask my father to dance, and I didn’t. I opted not to do something that would have been easy for me and meaningful for him. My brother was right. I wish that I had asked him to dance. I wish I had asked him to stay for a picture or two. I wish that I had the opportunity to apologize for being mean to him when what I was, was angry.

I knew we were going to lose Gramps. I knew I was going to miss him terribly. I made a point of documenting my life with him, his time with my daughter. I made a mistake of assuming my Dad would be here longer. I regret it. There’s no going back.

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