Mourning Dad on His Birthday

Don Smitley and Jennifer Gelsick

I write this on what would have been my father’s 61st birthday. I write this with a broken heart and tear-stained cheeks. I write this as a daughter who lost her hero to the terrible clutches of mesothelioma.

Normally, Dad’s birthday would have been full of fun. Phone calls, visits, food, and a game with my great aunt (who spent her wedding anniversary waiting for him to be born) to see who would call to give their well wishes first! Now, in a stark, different reality, I find myself alone with my thoughts, imagining what today would have been like.

I imagine that today would have been spent with family as usual, but with the beautiful addition of his two-year-old granddaughter. The laughter that always accompanied time spent with my Dad would have been amplified with him enjoying her antics and singing our song, “You Are My Sunshine.”

Today should have been a day of celebrating Dad’s life with him present, not lovingly remembering him in the past. Thankfully, I have so many beautiful memories with him to always carry with me, but I will always mourn for those left unmade. Empty chairs, songs without a voice, and hearts broken, all because of mesothelioma.

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