There is nothing that changes your life more than the death of a loved one. I lost my father 11 days ago- and it has rocked me to my very core.
Dad was always known and loved for his incredible sense of humor. Even when I was a small child, he would make me laugh so much I prayed to be just like him. His humor had the ability to reduce the most serious of situations. I always believed that no one could be upset in my father’s presence. He had a gift.
Our relationship was less than perfect- but as the years passed our relationship began to strengthen. He was a rock, a confident and a best friend. And if I’m being honest, he was a dear friend to many. He had an innate ability to connect with anyone and everyone. Whether it was a taxi driver, a friend or a complete stranger- he made them feel valued and they all saw someone with depth. He worked hard, spoke his mind and lived simply. He always played good cop and was everything you would want in a parent.
In December 2018, when dad was first admitted to hospital I spent the majority of my spare time with him. There were many moments where I found myself overwhelmed with sadness at the sight of dads declining health, but weaved within those sad moments, were moments of brilliance.
One evening while visiting dad, I took him out for a cigarette. There was a man sitting outside who was quick to share why he had been admitted into hospital. To make a long story short- dad had an incredible ability to attract people from all walks of life- but this particular man who spoke had a story to tell. He proceeded to tell dad that he was a alcoholic who worked locally at a very important business. Dad listened to him intently and never once interrupted. Before leaving to go back inside, dad asked the man one question: if you’re operating machinery that close to children, has it ever occurred to you what could happen if you were to hit a child while under the influence? If you are reading this- I know you’re probably asking yourself where is she going with this? Dad was capable of getting through to almost anyone- he wasn’t speaking from a place of judgment but rather a place of love and concern. He could sense the suffering. He was able to ask that man the question floating around in my head, but would never have the courage to ask. Brilliance.
It’s been 11 day without this brilliant man- and it’s absolutely terrifying to imagine life without someone like that. Every time I think of the day in room 313 when his heart stopped and mine continued to beat, I feel so engulfed by pain.
I reflect on the last two months of life while dad was hospitalized and I found strength in places I didn’t know existed. Today, I had to face one of my many ‘firsts’ without dad- my first day back to work. Before waking I had already talked myself out of the day but with some serious coaching from a friend I was able to jump small hurtles and survive the day.
Thinking about my dad overwhelms me with agony because he’s not around anymore, but thinking about him also fills me with immense joy. I think about the many things he taught me, and some of the happiest moments of my life that we shared, and I feel incredibly grateful. Even in the most difficult moments, I’m aware that I’ve been extremely lucky. I think back to that night at the hospital. Maybe what he said didn’t change that man’s life- but it certainly impacted mine.
I truly want to focus on living my life as whole as his, and celebrate every moment the way he would have wanted me to. Despite my greatest efforts, nothing in this world can bring him back, nothing can ever replace his presence, and nothing can ever explain our loss. But acknowledging his lingering presence in my life and living a happy, fearless life is my option B and the greatest way I can honor him.
I am eternally grateful for the past 34 years and for every day I live knowing I’ve been blessed with the greatest father a girl could ask for.
We grieve because we love. How lucky we are to have experienced that love.
I miss you beyond measure dad.