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Digging through cabinets, I think chicken noodles, maybe?

“Yes, chicken noodles”, I answer myself.

I glance at my own hands, pulling the chicken from the freezer.  I think of my daddy’s hands.  There aren’t words in any language to define how much I suddenly want to make chicken noodles for him and my daughters. I think of a zillion times he cooked for me, how happy that made him, how he loved cooking.  …and how I’d so much loved cooking for my daughters too.

I wish I had counted every meal he made for me in my lifetime.  I couldn’t ever begin to count them.  Suddenly, I ferociously want a number…I want the exact fucking number!  I want the number and I want to race through the house screaming that number at the walls…

FIVE MILLION, TWO HUNDRED, AND SEVENTY-EIGHT!

FIVE MILLION, TWO HUNDRED, AND SEVENTY-EIGHT!

FIVE MILLION, TWO HUNDRED, AND SEVENTY-EIGHT!

FIVE MILLION, TWO HUNDRED, AND SEVENTY-EIGHT…….TAKE THAT, ALL YOU HATEFUL PEOPLE WHO WANT ME TO BELIEVE I’M WORTHLESS AND UNLOVABLE!  TAKE THAT, YOU LIARS – YOU NASTY DECEIVERS!

FIVE MILLION, TWO HUNDRED, AND SEVENTY-EIGHT —– AND YOU’LL NEVER EVER BE ABLE TO TAKE THAT FROM ME!

I’m angry at how easily I could count the times I cooked for him.  I’m not going to let myself stop and count those, though.  Not in my head, not on my fingers, not today…not ever. No.

…spilt milk and all…

Why did I not cook for him more? I angrily ask myself as I wash my hands. I need to tell him.  He needs to know these things.  He must know them.  It’d be too unfair if he never knew.  And my life overflows with futile, senseless, non-budging, disgusting unfairness already.

This simply cannot be one more.

I walk into the living room, lean against the entryway, and look directly where his chair always sat.  I can’t look in that spot and not see his gigantic grin, his unstoppable energy to do for others, how genuinely delighted he was when I was happy, how he beamed with pride at watching me succeed at a job or just watching me be a momma to his grandbabies.  He effortlessly defined joy.  And I don’t know where he went from me.  I don’t know how I’ve lost him from my soul.  Once upon a time, I was so much like him in that way…

I briefly wonder when was the precise moment I stopped being who I was and became who I am.  I ponder who it is I am today and how he would have hated seeing me be this.   I reflect on how his entire last 30 years were spent encouraging my happiness, supporting my struggles, lifting me up from the daily battles of physical handicaps, balancing my single-mother struggles, assisting me with impossible financial situations….

He had fought so tirelessly hard, yet so cheerfully, for me in all of it.  He would be devastated to see this – all of this… now.  Everything he’d devoted himself to – everything – up in existential smoke.  He’d dedicated so much of himself to not this. And, I realize I never once saw him devastated or beaten…not once.

Not. Even. Once.

I tearfully apologize to him. My heart spilling over with the ache of regret, missed chances, missed conversations, missed opportunities to cook for him, and the tragic lack of even one final I love you before there would never be another.  Ever.

I look back down at my hands.  Things like manicures and pretty fingers have become so senseless, yet I’m appalled at the rapid aging of my hands from just the past six years.  Are these even my hands?  I’ve not accomplished a fraction of what he did and my hands look hideous.   I hear him smiling saying, “Heyyyyy bay-bah…?  Let’s go get you a manicure!” with that confident excitement of an innocent child he always had when he knew he could fix something…make it better…bring joy and Band-Aids to someone he loved.

And he always loved me. Always.  So great big and so out loud that its absence is an indescribably painful emptiness.

I think of his hands and how aged they’d seemed the last we spoke…and how deeply it had bothered me I hadn’t had any lotion in my handbag that day to moisturize those loving, worn and wearier-than-I even-knew hands.

I tell him he deserved better from me; he deserved more somehow.

He deserved so fucking much better than that and far, far, FAR better than this.

I’m making chicken noodles on a cold and dreary day, Daddy.

I can’t wait to see your smile when I bring you a plate.

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