Nobody can prepare you for the ache of loss. Death is something that strikes and leaves a permanent wound. This wound is ever present and imprisons you mentally and physically. It’s like hearing a new word and suddenly being cognitively aware of it being used around you, all the time. It’s comparable to someone you love having a white Mercedes and now you see it everywhere your head turns. Except with grief, it’s with thousands of different memories, logos, words, pictures, things and thoughts almost every minute of the day. And Father’s Day, was the worst reality check grief has given me thus far. A not-so-subtle spotlight shown on someone I am now without. A spotlight with batteries that never seem to run out of charge, and I’m in the front row for the rest of my life.
I miss togetherness the most. It feels as though my family must learn how to be a family again. It feels as if we practiced for decades just to have the progress be ripped away from a wrong turn of evolution. How do you learn to function as a family when someone won’t ever return to a day that is supposed to be dedicated to them? How do you learn to function as a family when your son has died before you? With whatever title is paired with your name, whether it be father or daughter, in my family, it now comes with the truth of what awaits and what doesn’t. My dad had a journal that he wrote in when he knew he was going to lose his life to cancer. I know the journal encompasses his scribbled handwriting on pages that I am positive are marked with the tears of a dying man’s wish to live. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it yet. However, my mom did bring one passage to light that broke me.
“I know my family cares aboutme and loves me despite whatever flaws and shortcomings I might have. In the end, that’s enough for me. As I said before, everything I’ve done in the last 20+ years has been for them anyways.” – Journal Entry, 05/29/16
My dad wrote that. My own father wrote that about the end of his life. Think to yourself if you knew you were going to die what you would sit down and write on a sheet of paper. Would you write about your social media following? Would you write about any materialistic item in your possession? Would you even write about yourself at all? I think I can answer for whoever is reading my purple issues when I say we wouldn’t. The focus would probably be writing about your family and the ones you loved, much like the entry from my dad above.
I could tell you to not take things for granted, but that’s a waste, because you will. We all take people for granted until we have a reason not to. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the dream I had waking up to Father’s Day this year, post father: I was in a completely white room. There was nobody inside of it except for me and my dad. He put his clenched fist out in front of me and I knew what he wanted. We fist-bumped. It was a staple to our father-daughter relationship. After the fist-bump he told me I was his favorite person.
I don’t know if he would have said more to me but I startled awake before he could. It was simple, just him and I. There were no distractions and no fluff. It was what I imagine sitting down to write in a journal would be like when you know you’re going to die. The white room being the blank page. The conversation being one sided. You talking to one of your favorite people and not shying away because there’s no time left to tip toe around the important things.
I am learning to live with a weight that has every ability to crush me. I’m learning to live with more eye contact, more physical touch, more active appreciation and more purpose. Until I see my dad again one day, I will find comfort in the sound of golf balls making contact with the clubs. A nostalgic sound that takes me back through the years and makes me think my dad is close by.
I love you and I wish you were still here. Cheers to you, and everything you’ve done for the last 20+ years not ever going to waste. I live for you.