Saturday, it will be the fifteenth anniversary of my father's death.
Sunday will mark my eldest son's twenty-first birthday.
Both of those are painful, though for different reasons.
The first hurts because there is so much I left unsaid (and unasked) to my dad. I thought there was so much time. He died at seventy-two, from complications to a knee operation which should have prolonged his life by making it easier for him to walk and exercise. His death was sudden and unexpected: one day he was fine, the next day he was dead. The infection which took him was fast and furious, and did not respond to the best efforts of his doctor.
I can't bring him back. All I can do is make sure not to make the same mistake with my mother.
With the Not-So-Little Drummer Boy, his passage into formal adulthood fills me with regret. What have I done wrong? What should have I done differently? He is a wonderful young man, and it feels like it was the result of forces beyond me. Last summer we had a discussion about ways in which the occasional dysfunction which this family is prone to had hurt him. By the end of the talk both of us were in tears. All parents fear that they are screwing up their kids; I have been told exactly what I did to mine, without blame or rancor, merely pain.
I can't protect him anymore. All I can do is tell him I love him, and tell him all the things I wish my dad had told me before he died.
Neither of those things seem like quite enough.