This blank post with an Albus Dumbledore headline has sat untouched in my drafts folder for a year. It sat untouched inside my head for a year before that.
You see, for a long time, this blog had a dedicated audience of one.
Sure, others stopped in to hear about my travels or goals. But only one pestered me constantly to write more.
And now he’s gone.
We’re 20 days shy of the two-year anniversary of his last day on Earth, and I often find myself in Stage 1 of the grief cycle. (That’s “denial,” if you haven’t been around the torturous circle as many times as I have). I’ve gone to enough therapy sessions and read enough news articles and attended enough family events and told enough dark jokes to know that my dad is never coming back.
Turns out I’m still not ready to write this post. So instead, for today, I will leave you with the toast I gave at his memorial. Then I’ll come back sometime soon, and dust off the old blog for you, Daddy. I hope your WordPress subscription still works wherever you are.
I’ve spent my entire life telling people that my dad is the best, hardest working person on the planet, and it’s so comforting to know how much you all appreciated and loved him, too. I am so proud and thankful for his community, friends and family.
He had a way of getting to know every single person who crossed his path. He made each feel special. And one of the only good things to come out of this whole tragic mess is how we’ve come together to share all our incredible stories.
Anyone who’s connected with me on social media knows I’ve been sharing all sorts of Mark Lyle lessons. Things like “Be strong and resilient,” or “Always get the dessert,” or “If you’re going to do something stupid, at least be smart about it.”
He showed up. Physically and emotionally, he was all in. Always.
It’s deafeningly silent without my rock.
I’m getting married in January to a man my dad loved the instant they met — and who loves my dad the same. I’m crushed he won’t physically be there to walk me down the aisle. But my dad’s fun-loving, dependable, unbreakable spirit will always be by my side.
He’ll be there when I discover new cities and adventures. He’ll be there when I revisit favorite restaurants and campsites. He’ll be there when I tell inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times. He’ll be there when I cry, reminding me to “Stay tough, kiddo. We’ll get through this.”
He’ll be there when I laugh too hard, fall down too hard, work too hard, and absolutely when I play too hard.
He is, and will forever be, my conscience. The stubborn, mischievous, patient and calm devil on my shoulder.
I love you, Daddy.
*Title inspired by J.K. Rowling’s classic first novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” I finally read the Harry Potter books while deep in the throes of grief, just a few months after my dad died. As Harry grappled with the pain of never knowing his parents, he leaned on the great Albus Dumbledore, who never failed to share beautiful bits of wisdom. This particular quote simultaneously broke and inspired me: “After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”