I wrote this in the notes on my phone in the weeks after losing my father. From journals, poetry, songs... writing words has always been an outlet for me. On the outside, I may seem "normal" but my life will never be the same. I can't even look at something as simple as a box top without remembering how my dad would collect them for my sister and me, and sneak me my bag so Holly wouldn't get jealous. Memories make me smile and they make me hurt, too. I hope that by sharing this note with you, you will remember that life is fragile. People are fragile. You may never know the struggles the people around you are quietly facing. You have the power to fill other's days with joy and give them the love they need and you may never even know just how much it could mean to them. I hope your heart has been touched by the wonderful man I was blessed to call my father.
February 22nd, 2016 at 1:56 in the morning, I answered a phone call that no one ever really expects. It was a 911 operator informing me that there had been an emergency at my mom's house and I was needed to help my mom. When I asked what had happened her simple explanation said nothing but said it all at the same time. The huge lack of information gave it all away. I knew in my heart that things were changing forever.
Hearing my mom cry through the words, "he's gone" while hugging and holding on to me in my family's home was the most surreal thing I've ever experienced. It felt like a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. I didn't want to believe that my father was gone. I still don't want to believe it. The quick transition of hearing his name combined with the past tense stings like hell. I don't think it's a thing I will ever be able to hear without feeling a twinge of pain deep inside. That entire week seems like a blur. I think life is still foggy and probably will be for a long time.
Losing someone you love is not an easy thing to go through. I think everyone knows in our hearts that it's a reality that we all will at some time face but it's not something you truly stop and think is ever going to happen to you. And when you are trying to accept the reality that losing a loved one is a matter of when and not if, you try to rationalize that it will be the ones who have lived long lives and are ready to go home.
Up until that day, I had been blessed to have had so many people still here with me. I remember losing two great grandparents, a handful of great aunts and uncles, an uncle, and pets. At almost 25 years old, I still have three sets of grandparents. In recent times, I've been working on accepting that my grandparents wouldn't be here forever and focusing on thanking God for giving them to me as long as he has.
Never in my mind did I look at my completely full month of February in my calendar and think, "I could lose my daddy any of these days." Never did I even consider that a showing and funeral would be things I'd be planning for him in between maternity pictures and birthing classes. Never had I imagined that my baby, due in just over a month from that time, would only get to hear stories of Papa. Never had I thought that the last time I hugged and kissed my father would be the very last.
The truth of it is that it was always a possibility. Life is precious and death doesn't ask for permission from us. I've realized that just because I've now lost my father, one of the most important people in my life, doesn't mean I'm "safe" when it comes to keeping others that I love close. It's not a fun realization but a real one nonetheless.
The human in me cries over how unfair it is that he was taken so suddenly and too soon. I feel cheated in that it's very possible that more of my life will be lived without my father here with me than with. I feel an aching pain in my heart just to see other men -even strangers- my father's age and older. Being in public and seeing people just living is crushing. I feel heartbroken for my momma when I see elderly couples out shopping together and enjoying each other because that should've been my mom and dad. My heart breaks at the thought of celebrating first holidays with my baby as they will all be our first holidays without my father. I felt my first round of real anger about it all while looking through years and years of pictures from March birthday parties when I realized my father and me don't ever get to have a joint birthday celebration together again. I feel guilty and torn in telling myself it will get easier because I don't want to ever have a day where I realize he's not here and I'm okay.
I would give just about anything to be able to call my dad. Just to hear the distinct way he said hello and "mm bye bye" every time. I'd love nothing more than to hear him say, "how you doing sweetie?" Like he always did. I look out my back door and just wish I could see his car parked in the back of my yard and have just one more of his unannounced visits. I wish more than anything that he could be here to meet his grandchild and the closer we get to that day the more and more it kills me.
It's a strange thing to know that some people's lives have been turned upside down meanwhile life just keeps going. People keep going to work, getting their gasoline, paying their bills, going on dates, laughing, celebrating, living. Its been confusing to go about my work day like I always have only to get in my car and break down on my own because it just seems that it shouldn't be normal for life to be so the same when a huge part of mine is missing.
You don't realize how many times you hear the name "dad" until you lose yours. You don't think about how much power words really hold until someone says the exact right or the exact wrong thing to you when you're hurting. You can't grasp how hard it is to want to be okay and keep pushing on when everything without your loved one feels foreign until you're there and feel trapped between trying to be positive and feeling terrible guilt for wanting to be strong. You don't understand how small you really are until the hearts of the people you love the most are broken before you and you have no words or no way to help. You don't know the meaning of faith and hope and trust until those things are the only things you have to hold on to.
The moments when I get wrapped up and start to question and try to make sense of it all is when the loss becomes too much and I have to remind myself that I can and will get through all of these icky feelings. I know I will never get over the loss of my daddy but I will work through it and that's how he would want it to be.
The only single solitary way I am able to feel any sort of peace, comfort, and hope is the faith that I have in Jesus. And while that might seem like a strange thing to some people in this world, it's the truest thing to me right now.
I know with certainty that my earthly father is now walking with my Heavenly Father. My faith is the only thing that allows me to feel those icky feelings, remember the memories, picture the future without him, and still pull myself up off the floor and "keep moving forward" as he would say. It still doesn't make the hurt in my heart any less but it helps me to find a meaning. When I cry... I'm sad for my family and me, not him. He is now in the place where I also want to be one day.
I want to urge you to not live in fear of losing a loved one, but to hug your loved ones a little tighter. Cherish the time you have together. Treat other people a little better. Mend relationships that need mended. Let others know how much you appreciate them. Stop and actually think about how much those around you mean to you. Live a life that is worthy of feeling great loss by others once it's gone. And above all, please. If you do not already have the love of Jesus in your heart, I pray you reach out and grab it. And once you hold it in your heart, share Him with all of those that you love... Because in times like this I don't know what else could possibly get a person through.
I am so thankful to my parents for raising me to believe in my God because without Him I would be totally lost right now. My daddy lived the kind of life that everyone should. He didn't just tell me the right way to live, he led by example. I knew that he was an incredible man to have lived and loved and raised me in faith but I never realized that it all would make for a final parting gift until I see him again some day. Him raising me to believe what I do allows me to rest assured that he's in a better place. It allows me to cherish the time I had with him here on Earth, though too short by my standards, and trust that it was all a part of something bigger than my family and me could ever understand.
The hole in my heart will remain forever. I know that there will be many things both big and small that will undoubtedly make me smile when thinking of or remembering my sweet father. I know some of those same things will sometimes make me break down and cry, too. But by God's grace the hole will scar and I'll be able to honor my daddy by living my life for Christ and hopefully encouraging those around me to live the same so that we can all spend the real forever together. How lucky I am to have that sort of peace.
I love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living my daddy you'll be.