Eight years ago today, my Dad died. It feels like yesterday. He was one of those people that had such a "big," and often delightful, presence. He was a born entertainer and always seemed to have a bit of a twinkle in his eye. He was often on the verge of saying something truly hilarious. He was always creating music, taking us on adventures, and finding something humorous in almost everything. He used to call me "T-Bear." He was over-the-top fun. He filled whatever room he was in with his copious amounts of shining energy.

Then one day in April 2010, he didn't feel well. Eleven months later, he was gone. He and all of his energy and laughter and music and drama. Well, of course we still have his music and beautiful memories. However, the man who walked on this earth and, along with my Mom, helped my sister and I to become the people we are today, was gone.

He wasn't perfect. None of us are. He had some wounds, like all of us do, that he had to contend with throughout his life. Sometimes those wounds would manifest in ways that were painful for us. However, he always sought to love and care for us well. Sometimes he was overly generous. He authored incredible creative work for his clients and made music that was beautiful. He was complex, lovable, hilarious, challenging, infuriating, and absolutely wonderful.

Dad singing AND playing his drums at around age 16

I still miss him vividly today. The pain is softened most days, but it is ever-present. He will always be one of the "voices in my heart." He was also one of my very best friends, even if I didn't always realize it at the time. Yeah... that's the thing. I guess that's what this post is really about.

I'm not sure why, but sometimes it isn't until someone we love so much leaves us, that we can reflect back and realize how much of an impact they made on our lives. Even the memories we have of challenging times can even seem precious once we can look back across time and see them in the context of a life lived with love, even if not always perfect. (Because none of us are.)

When we are all relatively healthy and in the midst of the busy days of our lives, it is so easy to take each other for granted--as if they will always be there for us to talk with, apologize to, forgive, laugh with, argue with, etc. But that all does end.

As sad and unsettling as this reality can be, it can also help us to be more present with those that are still with us today. Right now. If you have the gift of your family members, especially your parents and grandparents, don't wait. Reach out now.

Although my dad and I had a good relationship when he died, I can't tell you how many times I've pondered how many opportunities to hang out with him I missed. How many conversations I wish I'd had with him. Even during the wonderful times we all had with him, I wish I'd been more present in the moment and realized the preciousness of the time. However, I'm very grateful for the time we had. He was a truly incredible human being. But it did get me to thinking: Why don't we love the ones we have with us the same way?

Why can't we love our friends and family now like we would if they were gone? These moments we have with those we love are never ordinary and they are limited. The weekend at your grandmother's? Golden. The trip to Disney with the kids? Magical. How about having breakfast with your significant other on an ordinary Saturday? Priceless. Why? Because someday, we all will be gone. But today, you and I and many people that we love are here today. RIGHT NOW. So let's love them--not like they'll be here forever so these little moments don't matter.

Let's love them like they're gone. Except--we got them back for today. And maybe tomorrow and the next day. How differently would we love each other?

I miss you, Dad. I love you. Thank you for the memories and the outrageous awesomeness of being your "kid." <3