Last week, my eldest daughter’s boyfriend texted me that he wanted to meet me for lunch “soon.” He also asked me for my Father-in-Law’s phone number. We set up a lunch date near my office. Anyone with half a brain cell knew what was coming.
He purchased a ring, exactly the ring that he knows my daughter will love. He showed me a photo of it on his phone. She knew nothing for now, but I figured that all of Raleigh – and maybe clear into Durham – will hear her scream as soon as “it” happens.
He asked me if I was “okay with this,” which is apparently Millennial Speak for “May I have your blessing?” or “May I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?”
And as I’m nodding and saying, “Yes, of course,” all I can think of is how he should be having this conversation with Eric instead. And he can’t. He has to have it with me.
Then start the visions of a sweet mountain air Springtime wedding and a bright future with new careers and cherub faced grandchildren and small houses with white picket fences and first days of school backpacks and birthday parties and holiday turkeys and loud barbecues and all the many beautiful, happy experiences that the union of two young adults bring forth into an extended family over time. I’ll be watching it happen alone. And Eric won’t be here for any of it.
I remember talking with Eric a few months before he died about my second novel, Good Buddy, the one I wrote for him. It was the last thing he ever read. As I talked about how I wanted to bring the book into the world, he started to tear up and shouted, “I won’t be here for any of that!” Even when I knew he was dying, I still couldn’t let myself believe that he wouldn’t be here for that moment or any of these many other happiest moments. But he was right.
Like a lot of sappy girls, I watch – religiously – the weepy, heart-warming TV show This is Us. I know Eric would have watched this one with me because deep down…not many people knew this…he was a bit of a sap himself. And it was never more evident than in his last nine months on Earth. Last season on the show, long-time widowed Rebecca helps deliver her grandchild on Halloween night in her son’s home unexpectedly. And this particular brilliantly written statement no doubt resonates with every widow out there:
“That was one of the happiest moments of my life, but also, your dad isn’t here,” she tells Randall while sobbing. “That’s just something I’m going to have to deal with the rest of my life — the happiest moments will also be a little sad.”
And as I sat there at a restaurant table in Raleigh, while my daughter’s boyfriend expressed his love for her and his plans and desire to propose to my daughter soon, I was hit with that same exact gut-wrenching sentiment. For me, this is now something I will have to get used to…The happiest moments will also be a little sad.