I've periodically mentioned that July is often a rough month for me. I don't mean for it to be...it just is. You see 35 years ago this very afternoon, my father died. I was 11. It is a earth shattering event for a child. And in some ways, I still feel like that raw little girl, missing her daddy.
There are years I'm not even aware of it until I find myself full of despair for no apparent reason. And then I notice the calendar. There are years where it feels like the world is out to get me. And then I notice the calendar.
I'm not into this nation's whole cult of celebrity, but last year when Michael Jackson died, I was so annoyed by the 24 / 7 news coverage it got here in LA LA land. I mean, he's a singer; Not some head of state. He didn't cure cancer or anything important. But then, when his 11 year old daughter spoke at his funeral, there I was, sobbing my heart out.
I had so many things I wanted to say to that girl...things I know from experience. The first ten years, the anniversary date will place an ache in your soul so vast, you think nothing will fill it. Year 11 will be hard when you realized you've lived as long without him as you had with him. Year 12 will be even harder because you've lived longer without him than the days you had him in your life. By year 15, you won't see his face in your dreams any longer. You will stare at his picture and wonder what is wrong with you that you can't visualize him without help. By year 25, it starts to hurt a little less... just a little. By year 30, the date doesn't loom as large but can still hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it. And that's just all the crap that a date on the calendar carries.
There are all the coulda woulda shouldas that come up. The milestones he's missing. Would he like your boyfriend / husband? Would he approve of your choices / work? Would he be proud of you? You feel his absence as much as you ever felt his presence. Your graduations. Your wedding.
And then when his siblings start dying and you start to imagine what age he "should've" died. How old would he be? Would he still be strong? Would he still love you? Would he still know you?
It's a lot for a little girl to bear.
The other thing I would tell her is that she will wake up the next day. And she will get out of bed and do...something. And she will feel better. She will realize that life goes on. Because it must.