On this day, sixteen years ago, my dad died. For clarification, I should say my first stepfather, the only man I ever called dad. I was 9. My mom was crying softly when she told me. She hugged me and told me he loved me like I was his own. He was 33. Mom was in her late 20s. It was picture day at school. I took a pretty picture. I guess that helps folks understand why I have no tolerance for bad pictures of me. If I can take a good picture on that day, then there's no excuse for taking bad pictures. Ever. My mom came to my school to talk to my teacher, to explain things. Kids were whispering. I cried. Sam had just turned 5. Josh was almost 4. I'm pretty sure Juanita had to go to school too, but I don't remember.
It doesn't get any easier to go through this day, unless I put it out of my mind, which I can't really do. So when my mom asked me if I knew what today was, I did. I do. And it still hurts.