What might be the hardest week of my year begins tomorrow.

This isn’t to say that the last couple weeks have been a piece of cake, walk in the park, or whatever other clichéd phrase might fit best.

For the past two weeks at work, I have been tangling with an especially messy case involving a client in Mexico fighting to be reunited with a son taken into the United States by his ex in 2013–and vanished until my client got word that his son was in DCS (Department of Child Safety) custody in Arizona.  DCS was anxious for a happy reunion, right?  Yeah–not really.  Seems that DCS prefers the idea of the kid remaining here in the US with his foster parents (who they openly refer to as the “adoptive placement”) forever more.  Lots of mud slung at my client without actual evidence…and, what do you know, when the court set a hearing for DCS to put up or shut up, they turned up mostly empty-handed, full of theories and beliefs and supposition instead.  Court dismissed the case.  DCS got on the hotline to the court of appeals, and–voila!  We now have a stay of the dismissal of the case and a pending petition for a special action before the appellate court.  In two weeks, I’ve had an oral argument on the issue of the stay, drafted a motion to strike the petition, drafted a motion to withdraw the motion to strike after a couple things changed in the case, and this past week–oi.  This past week, I spent the majority of my time drafting a 40-plus page response to the special action.  Am I done?  Not likely…probably more to come on this case.  And–oh yeah–I still have a number of other cases that need my attention that had to be pushed into the background while I worked on the response.

But wait, there’s more!  This coming week is our statewide public defender conference, Wednesday through Friday.  It’s supposed to be a nice, comfortable, breezy 112-121 this week in the Phoenix area.  Yes, you read that correctly: 112-121, one hundred twenty-one degrees is predicted for Tuesday or Wednesday’s high.  And then…

Our fourteen month odyssey is almost complete.  In April, 2016, we signed the contract to build our new house.  They finally broke ground in August, 2016, and laid the foundation in October, 2016.  As of this past week, we finally signed all our loan documents and paid our remaining deposit and fees.  Wednesday is the big day — the day we get our keys and take “delivery” of the house.  Yay!  What this really means is Wednesday night I repaint the office/man-cave in Chicago Cubs colors.  Thursday afternoon we take delivery of new furniture, appliances and have our internet installed.  Thursday night I hope to get our electronics moved over to the new house, along with the mattresses and perhaps my daughter’s bed frame and my office computer desk.  Friday we’ll have another vendor in doing some installation.  Aaaaand then, Saturday–the big move, movers and a truck and everything.  Saturday is when we move all the big stuff, all the medium stuff, and whatever remains of the small stuff.  By the time we go to sleep Saturday night, all our possessions will be in the new house.

This is all fantastic, but there’s a cloud to our silver lining.  Well, there are a few clouds, but one that will have the most impact on me this week: my wife will be in Dallas all week conducting a training seminar for teachers.  So, all these wonderful things happening this week, come down to myself and my 13-year old daughter.

Now, this isn’t to say that we’re getting no help.  I’ll start by thanking Claire and Linda and Roxanne for all the help they’ve already provided us in making sure the house is packed up before my wife gets on her flight to Dallas on Monday morning.  Without those three, we would be completely lost right now.  I believe all three of our fantastic friends will be back on Saturday to help with the big move–as will my wife, and my brother, flying in from Chicago just to help us move.

A few weeks ago, I sent out the call for help–just looking for a few friends to help shuttle electronics, a couple mattresses, and the two small furniture items to the new house on Thursday evening.  Times like these are when you learn things about people.  I have one confirmed YES for Thursday.  I have one that said he would help, but have not heard from him in a couple weeks.  I have one friend whose wife said that he would be here to help.  I have one that has family in town and is pretty tied up, but offered to help with unpacking or other assorted things after his family departs.  To sum this up, I’m nervous.  Hopefully I get the help I need for Thursday so this doesn’t become a six trip back-and-forth operation.  It would be so nice to only have the boxes, kitchen table, washing machine, bookshelves and dressers left to move on Saturday…

Where does all this leave me?  Tomorrow.  Father’s Day.

My grandfathers: Gentle, loving souls, both passed on.  Max, my father’s father, died in 1995.  Morrie, my mother’s father, died in 1983.

My father died in 2006, just a couple months past his 60th birthday.  Always happy, jovial, despite the issues he battled.  I was just happy that he got to meet both Micah and Avi before he passed away.  I miss my father’s laugh, his smile, the smell of markers from his doodles and his Name-Toons.  I miss those long days when I “hung out” with my father as he made his custom artwork for guests and passers-by at the Ramada O’Hare, or the Marriott O’Hare, or a mall art fair, or his time at the resorts in upstate New York back in the early 90s.  I miss nonsensical discussions about pickles, and the creative way my father had with words–particularly silly words that he made up himself.  I miss the stories about his time in Israel, and the endless slides he would show us from those days before I was born.  I miss hearing about his political views, about the time he met President Gerald Ford and made him a Name-Toon.  I miss all his dreams and ambitions.  I miss the grandparent bonding time he never got to have with Micah and Avi.  I even miss that fateful day on Route 176 after a visit to the Volo Auto Museum…and lying on the floor in front of the back seat of his car, holding his belt as the belt held up the muffler.  I miss my dad.

My own son is gone.  Tomorrow marks the second Father’s Day I have had to celebrate with only one child instead of two.  This holiday is being celebrated while many of Micah’s friends and hockey teammates are in San Jose, preparing for the NARCh West Coast Finals.  I’ve seen the Facebook posts.  I’ve stared at the pictures.  Micah would have been there.  I would have probably been there with him.  It would have been our first ever trip to Northern California, to San Francisco, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to Alcatraz.  Instead, it’s another reminder of everything I’ve lost.

As we prepare to move into our new house–the house at 3706–we do not have our 37.  I know he’s with us in spirit, and he is never far from our thoughts, but he will never carry his hockey bag into this new house.  He won’t be wishing me a Happy Father’s Day from the sofa in between games of Skyrim.

The pictures…the videos…the memories…are my Father’s Day gift from my son.  Not to sound selfish or spoiled–but they’re not enough.