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"My memory loves you; it asks about you all the time." -Johnathon Carroll

Happy birthday, Daddy.

It's been fourteen years since I handed you a present, and thirteen years since the last time we said good bye. It's a sharp pain. The other day me and Mom were talking about seeing strangers who look like you. I've been in three places where I saw a man who could have been your twin. I laughed, because one was wearing shorts. You almost never did. He was holding a beagle puppy though, and you always did like beagles. The curly  hair and ball cap hit close to home too. It was everything I had in me not to go up to that man and talk to you.

It happened when Jame was in the hospital one time too. That guy was you, except overweight. Dark, curly hair, a smile. Wrong, but familiar.

Once, I thought I saw you driving down the road in Crane. In a Ford truck, no less. And it was like a knife in the gut.

I haven't "seen" you in a while, but I do think of you when I pick up a penny, heads up or not. When I unexpectedly see a deer. I like to think you're watching then. I washed my car and thought about all those times you helped me wash the Mustang. Man, I'd give anything for you to wax it. I won't complain about having to wipe it all off this time, okay? We can listen to oldies or even Man of Constant Sorrow if you want. Whatever, as long as we have a good time. I know we'll have a good time, even if we don't say much. We never had to, there was enough love in comfortable silence.

God, I miss you. I both love and hate it when you pop up I'm a dream. Your face is yours, but your voice is wrong. Just like in real life when Bobby Cox doppelgangers show up. It's heartbreaking. I wonder if you know how much we miss you.

Some days it's better. Some days it's a struggle to do anything except cry. So I go to the Internet and find something funny so I can laugh. I play with the dogs, because they make me so happy. I remind myself to take it one day at a time, even though it takes me farther from you. I take what I can get, even if it's bittersweet memories and photographs.

The other day Mom handed me the picture of my birthday when you guys bought Jill for me. She said, "Remember that he was happiest when he was making us happy. So just be happy."

I'm trying.

I love you.

Robert L. Cox
11/19/53 - 11/15/03