Commode To Joy

finding happy (even in the crappy)

Cherry Coke Cheers

Yesterday would’ve been my dad’s 64th birthday. An unexpected tradition formed following dad’s unexpected death: I’d have a cherry coke on his subsequent birthdays, toasting to him.

It started as a fluke.

Mom had found a six pack of bottles that he would’ve taken in his daily lunch. It seemed appropriate to open one and have some swigs.

Cheers dad.

The next year Muscato and I were living in our house. Somehow mom and my brother both stopped by (I say somehow — when tragedy is still raw and important dates roll around, you draw close to your people without even realizing you’re doing it). I remember we were quiet. Somber.

I opened a cherry coke from that same 6-pack. It was flat af, which felt appropriate. A little bit of dry humor, just like dad’s, to soften the mood.

Cheers dad.

After that year I made it intentional. Again and again come Feb 19, I’d have a cherry coke. Or at least a few swigs anyway. I don’t drink pop otherwise, and woah is that stuff sweet. I even documented a few of the “dates.”


This vacation I’ve had the annual birthday drink on my radar. It’s been 10 years since the last time we celebrated dad’s birthday in person — this cherry coke tradition has helped me feel like he’s close again. Over time the hurt changed to eagerness; I’d awaken anticipating “seeing” him in some way during the day.

Yesterday came and I was…not eager…not hurt either. I was good.

I figured I’d get a coke at dinner to maintain tradition, but it didn’t feel necessary as it has in years past. Come dinner time the restaurant didn’t serve any form of cherry coke (or Pepsi) whatsoever. Talk about an affirmation. An affirmation that it’s okay to not continue a tradition for tradition’s sake. An affirmation that changing how I remember dad doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten him. An affirmation that it’s okay to let go.

These balloons caught my eye before dinner. Before learning there’d be no coke.


Balloons. A symbol of celebration. A symbol of remembrance. A symbol? Of letting go.

Cheers dad.

Categories: Death & Grief, Encouragement

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2 replies

  1. Oh Jamie…. I can relate. There are things, that yet they not be consistent, are there. There is a song, that will play over the speaker whenever I am in Hobby Lobby. Its a store that my sister and Mom could go into for hours, we all know the drill: I have a project, come out with a different project or two and lots of laughs in between. We know it is just a song, on a loop, not even a random radio station. But it feels like a hello. The song was played at Kristy’s funeral. So girl, I get it. You just found another “Hello” 🙂 We just have to open eyes and see.
    The song,… I know you would want to know…. You’ll Be In My Heart, Phil Collins, Tarzan…. 😀

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