Today marks four years since I stopped celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
You know how they say to hug your loved ones more, because you never know what day is going to be the last? You know how you say you live your life that way, but do you really? Do you REALLY hug your loved ones like it could potentially be the last time you’ll ever see them? Really let that sink in.
Today marks four years since the last time I laughed with my dad. Four years since I poured my heart out to him for the last time. Four years since I heard one of his incredibly corny jokes that I didn’t know I would actually give anything to hear again. Four years since he told me that my life was mine to live as I wanted to, for the last time (my words, his actual ones were “You do what you have to do”), before proceeding to crack us all up at the family dinner, for the last time. Four years since he seemed fine, so I said goodbye like I would on any other normal day.
We texted a little over the course of the next week, something about my car registration and something else about him redecorating my childhood bedroom which I no longer occupied (with a poster symbolizing John Lennon’s “Imagine”, a song I now keep on my playlist but cannot listen to because it breaks my heart), but that was it. Five days after St. Patrick’s Day, he was gone. The last goodbye we exchanged was probably “Lata, potata”. He was gone before I reached the hospital on March 22, 2013.
St. Patrick’s Day might mean green beer and corned beef to you, but it stopped meaning that to me four years ago. Now it’s the day I wish I realized that something wasn’t right. The day I wish I knew as much about heart disease as I know now. It’s the day my dad randomly handed me a “Luck O’The Irish” garden stone he would have otherwise thrown away if I wasn’t standing in the garage with him, that I now cherish.
If you’re Irish and celebrating with loved ones this weekend, or pretending to be Irish and doing the same, love them just a little harder. St. Patrick’s Day may seem like one of those fun, silly holidays – and it is – but days like those are when the best memories are made, aren’t they?
I’m not going to tell you to live every day like it’s your last, and I’m not going to tell you to say goodbye to your loved ones like you might never see them again, every single time you say goodbye to them. It’s not realistic and we wouldn’t be living our lives in fear. What I am going to tell you is this: Pause. A lot. Take mental snapshots of the important moments. Really be in the moment you’re in. The truth is that a lot of times – most times – we don’t know which day is the last one. What I do know is I had a pretty perfect day with my dad, and I truly mean that.
Wishing you a Happy Friday and a Happy St. Paddy’s Day weekend…