Our whole lives we know it is inevitable. We know one day we will no longer walk this earth. We know it, but when it happens to someone we love it has the ability, the power, to flatten us. It can shatter our hearts, our souls, sometimes it shatters our lives if we let it.
In March I received that devastating phone call we all dread at 11:00pm. On March 25th I lost my daddy. I can still feel the gut-punch of those words spoken by my mom, "Dad died tonight." The words lingered in the air like fog. I heard her but I just wasn't understanding. All in one moment my life, the life of my family, especially the life of my mom, had changed forever.
My mind instantly went to, what was the last thing I said to him? What did I leave unsaid? Did he know how much he meant to me? Did he know how much I looked up to him. Did he know he was my one true hero? I know I told him all of these things, but even though I knew that, it still didn't feel like enough. He didn't hear it enough. He didn't know it enough. I didn't get to say it enough. And how, in the honest name of God, will I go on without my dad? All these questions flooded me in those first few moments.
He died 6 days before my birthday. In the wake of all our grief and despair and confusion, my mom gave me the last birthday gift my dad would ever give me. A necklace that said, "My little girl yesterday, my friend today, my daughter forever. I love you"
Did he know those would be the last words he would ever tell me? Did he know those are the words I would need to hear the most from him after he was gone and could no longer tell me to my face? I opened the box and read those words and cried with deep powerful sobs. Not just because this is the last gift I would ever get from my dad, but because it was such a gift of the heart. From his heart to mine. I sobbed because God knew. Because it was proof that God knew what it was I was going to need to hear from my daddy. They both knew.
Losing my dad has proven to be the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. Some days are harder than others. On the days I feel strong, I think about all the memories I have. I think about the time we spent together. I relive my most special and favorite moments of being his daughter. The father daughter banquets, the board games he taught me to play, the times I disappointed him while growing up, the times I hoped I made him proud. Some of my most favorite moments though, are the ones that are just ours. When he walked me down the aisle, with tears in his eyes. The moments before the doors opened and I was there, holding his arm just in that moment with the first man I ever loved. The first time I saw him holding one of my babies. The look of pride on his face every time he looked into their tiny faces. The times that he would sneek around behind mom's back to buy her special Christmas gifts. He'd show me and always asked, "Do you think she'll like it?" That hopeful but excited tone in his voice. Wrapping his gifts for my mom was one of the greatest highlights of the holidays for me because it was just between he and I.
Today is my daddy's 69th birthday. Today I won't get to gather my family around the phone and call him to sing our annual, really badly sung birthday song and hear him chuckle when it was over. I won't get to bring him a card that I thoughtfully picked out and wrote something heartfelt inside of. Today I won't get to hug him, and tell him I love him and happy birthday. There will be no cake, no birthday gifts. Today, there will be tears. There will be the ever present pain and feeling of this missing presence in our world. But what I also hope for is the reality that we know how much he loved us. That we think about the times we did get to celebrate with him. I hope that in our moments of grief today, we feel him with us. Because I believe he is.
I know he will never read this, but I wanted to tell my dad one last time:
Dad, I want you to know that I'm trying. I try every day to make you proud of the daughter you raised. I try to instill in my children the things you taught me. I talk about you as often as I can, because I want everyone to know what kind of man my dad was. I am proud to be your daughter. You are the strongest, kindest, most loyal man I ever knew. You are everything a daughter could have ever wanted. I hope you know I am taking care of mom as best I can. She is taking care of us too. We are going to be alright. We will get through. One day at a time. Okay, one moment at a time. We are all so happy that you are no longer in pain. You are able to sit down with your loved ones in heaven and talk about the old days. That brings us peace. We think about you every day and look forward to seeing you again some day. I love you daddy. Thank you for all you did for me. Thank you for always forgiving me and showing me what it meant to be unconditionally loved.
I love you to the moon and back,