Today would be my father's birthday. I don't think about how old he would be, or how long it's been since I was able to give him a gift. But I do try to think of him, and each year I remember a little less...
I wish I could have known him better, had more time with him. Hearing stories from his parents I understand that he played these sports and had those friends and played this prank on his sister and so on. My mother can tell me things about him and his adult life and his work, maybe what he would be reading. And I can look at pictures from when I was a kid and see myself with him, doing all sorts of things.
But it's been too long - almost impossible to relive the experiences. Sometimes I wonder how differently I'd have matured if he were alive then. What he might have thought of my first apartment, whether he'd have gotten along with my girlfriends, and what advice he'd have given me when I had nobody to ask.
These what-ifs aren't so much depressing, as a thought experiment. Losing a loved one hurts less and less with time of course. After it's been the way it is for so many years, it's nice once in awhile to be reminded of the person that lived.
Perhaps later in the day I'll have the chance somewhere to raise a glass, and wish him a happy birthday. Even if the people around me have no idea what I'm doing.