I hope they serve cannoli cakes in heaven

Today is my dad’s 72nd birthday. He’s not here to celebrate it.

I didn’t say it was his birthday. March 3 will always be his birthday. March 3 will always be the day that Nils Alan Flanzraich came into this world. I refuse to release his claim on today.

I keep thinking about his other birthdays. His 70th birthday when my brother took an all-day flight from New York to Reno, Nev., toting a cannoli cake too big for four people to eat. Or the year my dad earned his social security card and my mom bought a cake that looked like that red, white and blue identification.

Apparently we do cakes in my family.

If my dad were still here and well, he’d probably be engrossed in political coverage. The television would bounce between Fox, MSNBC and CNN. Every so often, he’d pause the talking heads to holler at my mom about some analyst who said something ridiculous. At some point, my mom would pull him away from the television. Maybe they’d take a ride up to Lake Tahoe and pick me and Max up on the way. At the end of the day there’d be dinner, probably at Olive Garden. And there’d be a cake, a candle, a cheesy song and a good night hug.

Today, I’m thinking about what my dad is missing. He’s missing the 2016 election season. He’s missing Trump. He’s missing the last season of Downton Abbey. He’s missing my entrepreneurial adventure. He’s missing Lake Tahoe covered in blankets of snow. He’s missing my niece’s 9th birthday. He’s missing texts from my brother. He’s missing late-night calls from my aunt. He’s missing my husband’s first year as a city-life reporter. He’s missing dinners with family and friends that inevitably ended in a meandering conversation about politics and books and music and history.

But what I really should write is that I’m missing him.

My dad didn’t die with regret. I know, because he told me. He told my mom. “We had a good run,” he said.

I know that while he would have liked to be here to experience that litany of experiences, he wouldn’t be so angry about missing them.

I am so angry he’s missing them. I’m still in that stage of grief.

But, he wouldn’t want me to be. He’d tell me that shit happens and that there are plenty of people who have it worse than he did. He’d tell me, and he did, to feel sad for the parent who dies before ever seeing their children reach double-digits, graduate high school, get married or have their own babies.

He’d tell me that we were lucky to have almost 30 years together.

He’d tell me to knock it off.

So, for him, I’ll try.

I love you daddy. I miss you every day.

Happy Birthday.

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