Please leave a message

My father died a year ago on February 24. But for me he really died on February 23rd. Surrounded by loved ones and saying personal goodbyes to each of his children, his grandchildren and finally his wife. Exiting this world uttering words we had never heard him express before, but we knew he felt. 
And then after saying his goodbyes, he told my mom, my sister and me to go home and that it was "a great ride." And then, even though I never believed this before, my father exited the room... and all that was left was his body that struggled on for another 15 hours before being pronounced officially dead. And it was almost as if you could see a change in his body after his farewells. At least I saw that. 
So for me, my father died on February 23rd. 

It has been a hard year. I still literally hear his voice when call waiting is activated on my mom's phone. "You have reached 610-356-7673. Please leave a message." in a deliberate voice that speaks volumes about my dad and his precise nature. And the first time I heard it, I burst into tears. Now, I sometimes talk back to the answering machine, "Hi Pop. Hey Daddy. How are you doing?" And sometimes it is too much and I hang up on him. Hoping I am not being too rude. 

His death has rocked me to my core. And I miss him, even though we rarely spoke on the phone- he just was not a phone guy unless my mom was not home. But now- he's the first one to pick up- telling me to leave a message. And I so wish that I could.