I apologize for all the deep posts lately, but its that time of year again. My dad would have been 58 on March 23rd.
I lost my best friend on May 12th, 2011, almost 6 years ago.
The first time I felt his presence was when I stepped on the beach in Clearwater, Florida a couple years ago. I saw him when I looked up in the clouds and I felt him when I squished my toes in the sand. I had never seen a sunset so beautiful, and I felt as if it had something to do with him. He reappeared when I landed in Copenhagen, Denmark last summer. I guess I didn’t really see him that time, I felt him. I felt him when I breathed and I felt him when I laughed. Last summer I was able to leave behind so much pain I was feeling. I was able to open myself up to a new feeling… Forgiveness.
I had been blaming myself for years before I began my journey of overcoming the guilt. You never “get over” the death of a loved one. You accept the situation and battle the pain that comes along with it. It is up to you to fight it with a smile on your face or to accept defeat.
He told me he was going to have surgery in April 2011 and I can’t honestly remember what else he said in that phone call, because I wasn’t paying attention. I was anxious to go to a friend’s house instead of focusing on him. That phone call, which was insignificant at the time, turned out to be the last time I ever heard my dad’s voice. I have a hard time remembering what his laugh sounds like and how his “I love you’s” ran through my head. Maybe if I would have paid more attention, I would be able to remember every detail. The truth is… You don’t know when you are going to lose a parent. You don’t get a warning. You get a giant “fuck you” instead.
We got a phone call that the surgery hadn’t gone as planned about three weeks later. I was confused. Why was he not okay? What could have possibly happened in those three weeks? I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. The doctors weren’t able to give him the help that he needed and that wasn’t necessarily their fault. Complications happen… and there is nothing a 14 year old can do about it.
I didn’t expect to lose him when I was 14. I expected to get a D on my Biology exam and wonder if my mom was making spaghetti that night. I didn’t visit my dad in his last days because I was scared. Scared of being vulnerable. Scared of accepting that he was leaving my life and this earth. How the hell did I deserve to have my best friend ripped away from me? I couldn’t believe it when my mom told me he was finally gone. It took a month. A month for my life to change drastically. Since I didn’t see him in that last month of his life, it sometimes still doesn’t feel real, 6 years later.
I don’t know when I stopped feeling so horrible about the situation. Sometime in the past few years, life got busy and I changed as a person. Since I didn’t have time to grieve, I have taken out my negative energy in a different way. I now do things that make me happy and make me feel like I have purpose in this confusing world. I’ve learned that anyone in your life can become apart of your family, and time means nothing when your heart is happy. I used to think that letting go of him would be the worst challenge that I’d ever have to overcome, but somewhere along the way I managed to do just that. He is always in my heart and owns the guiding voice in my head that pushes me forward. I’m pretty sure he’s the one that forces me to scream in traffic and he is the influence that encourages me write my papers 2 hours before they are due. He was so incredibly unorganized and messy, but I’ve learned that those are my favorite parts about myself. He wasn’t level-headed and often lead with his heart instead of his mind. I inherited these qualities from my father, and that is what makes me… Me.
Don’t get me wrong, I think about what he is missing. He missed me graduating high school and he will miss me graduating college. He will miss my wedding and he will never hold my children. Typing these three sentences has brought me to tears instantly, but that is okay. If I didn’t acknowledge these things, I wouldn’t be acknowledging the fact that my father is gone. But just because he is missing my graduation, my wedding, and my children, doesn’t mean that the rest of my loved ones will.
I feel like I’ve grown since I’ve lost him. I have learned to be independent, happy, and confident all on my own. He taught me to always go for what I want in life. No matter how small, no matter how insanely hard it might be to achieve what I want, the best things in life don’t just fall in your lap. Its a damn shame that I had to lose him at such a young age, but I thank him for showing me that I am strong enough to live without him.
Always tell your parents that you love them. I don’t care if your parents suck sometimes, let them know that you love them unconditionally anyway. Listen to the cracks in their voice. Listen to their laugh and memorize it with all of your being. Don’t grow up and regret not paying attention.
Thank you for giving me those wonderful 14 years. Thank you for allowing me to become the Stephanie I am today. I love you always.