For the last few years, February and March are months wedged in sorrow. Next month will mark 4 years since my father’s passing.  Thoughts of him sneak in as I buy a new pen, wrap a present, or write a check.  This is not accidental. Each of these instances reflected a part of his personality. He loved office supplies, stockpiling an arsenal of legal pads, paperclips, and post-it notes in his work area.  During birthdays, he volunteered to wrap presents, creasing the edges of the glittery paper so each flap matched exactly. He took pride in balancing his checkbook and writing the numbers in his ledger with careful precision.

This ordinary grief creates a darkness I feel powerless to cast away. Sinking into that sadness is painful, but denying that place feels manufactured. Like a kaleidoscope, my memories blur into a mixture of happy and sad fragments. As a teenager, I remember sitting on our light-brown couch, debating current affairs, politics and career choices with my father. Some of these discussions ended up in heated arguments where we declared our disdain for each other’s point of view and my mother stepped in, saying “That’s enough. Time to go to bed.”  Other times, I remember my father brewed his own version of  coffee so that my late night study sessions were productive. After I got married, when my husband and I visited my childhood home, my father affixed a white sign on the door with the word “Welcome Home” in his best calligraphy.

We shared many memories together, except for one.  Two weeks ago, I watched as my daughter waltzed with her Daddy around the living room. When my daughter marries, I suspect she will ask her Daddy to dance at her wedding reception, to a song they pick out together that exemplifies their relationship.

I never danced with my father at my wedding for a number of reasons. My parents were traditional, my father never felt comfortable dancing, and the biggest reason: I thought he would say no.  Looking back, there were ways to address his concerns: we could have showcased our Indian dance moves or did a group dance with my sister and mom as a part of our collective to ease him into center stage.

A dance with my father?  I wish I had asked.