It’s been a little over two and a half years since you passed away, but it only seems like yesterday. As this 23rd of December seems to continue on at an ever-so sloth-liked pace, I finally decided to get the courage to put my words on paper (or in this case, on a screen).
Life hasn’t been the same since you passed away, and I guess that’s both a good and bad thing. The bad thing is that you aren’t here with me. You don’t get to experience some of the many firsts in my life, like how I graduated from college this past May, or how I finally got my first apartment, to even getting married to my future husband someday, God-willing. You won’t be here to celebrate the highs or encourage me when I’m feeling down. Now, you’re probably shaking your head at me. Of course you’ll be there in spirit, as you would say, you’ll always be with me in my heart. While corny and true, it still sucks that you won’t be here in person.
Some of the good things, if I had to pick a good thing, would be that I’m finding out more about myself and who I am without you in my life. Now you may have noticed, but living without someone who has been in your life for 21 years is really hard. Another good thing? I learned that If I can handle your death and learn to move on in life, I can conquer anything that comes my way, because I have a God who loves me so much that He gives me the strength to get through things I didn’t think were possible.
Dad, here’s where my strong façade starts to crack. You see, growing up, I watched you struggle with alcoholism and your addiction to cigarettes. It saddened me that someone who I loved so much could be so dependent on these drugs. It’s hard to remember a time where you didn’t have one or the other in your hand. I also know that because of these two things, plus your many health issues, that this caused you to have a heart attack after you quit drinking cold turkey. When I found out you passed away, I was so mad at you. There were many times I has asked you to quit drinking and smoking, what made this last time so different? If you had given it up years ago, you might still be here. Now I won’t play the what if game, but things would so different if you gave it up many years ago instead of that May.
It’s funny how the grieving process works. I’ve come to terms that you’re dead and never coming back. I understand that you’re in heaven and that you’re watching over me, but I hate how every time I accomplish something, or if I have a question about my car, I want to call you but I can’t. There’s a split second where I forget that you passed away, and I get excited to hear your voice. But I know that will never come. It sucks having to watch all of my friends (and random strangers) hang out with their dads and watch them take their time with them for granted. It sucks to see that they get to do a lot of things that I won’t get to do.
For me, the holidays are the worst part of the year. Holidays, at least these past two years, have been a not so subtle reminder that you’re no longer here, something that I normally can stop myself from thinking about until they creep up so suddenly that I don’t know how to react.
Dad, I miss you so much that it sometimes just hurts to even think about past holidays, about the good times we had while I was growing up. I truly wish you could be here, but sadly, I know you can’t; I guess I’ll just stick with old photographs and passed down stories from when you were younger.
As much as I try to pretend that everything is alright, I know deep down in my heart that It’s not. I just want to know when it’ll stop hurting. When I’ll finally be able to get through the holidays without locking myself in the bathroom and bawling my eyes out because it hurts too damn much. I want to know when this void in my heart will stop growing.
I really miss you dad, I just don’t know what else to say.
But enough of the complaining, because I know you would tell me to stop if you were still around. So I won’t. Instead, I want to thank you for some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from you.
- Leave your work, at work. Thanks for this dad, while this wasn’t something you did, It’s something I learned to do over time. Often times I come home with no energy and with an urge to sleep for the next 24 hours. I get so caught up in complaining about my job, when I could be spending time investing more into the people around me.
- Don’t let alcohol control your life. As I myself have struggled with an alcohol addiction in the past, I know this is easier said than done. Some people have amazing control when it comes to drinking, and by all means, good for them. But for me? I don’t know when to stop. That’s why I don’t drink anymore, because I don’t trust myself and I never liked the person I was when I drank.
- Don’t take time with your family for granted. Call your parents, call your siblings. Tell them how much you love them, EVERY DAY. Talk to them about the little things going on in your life. And no matter how infuriating or stressed out they make you feel, always end your conversations with, “I love you.” Your family won’t be here forever; be thankful for the time you get to spend with them. I wish I would have answered the phone when you called me the night before you passed away…I’m sorry dad.
- The present moment is the most important moment. Get off your phone. Sure, take a few pictures here and there, but get off your phone. Enjoy those late-night chats with your best friend, those spontaneous hangouts that you’ll remember 50 years from now. Enjoy the company you have around you. They won’t always be around, make sure you are intentional about spending every moment being IN the moment… Your Instagram post can wait. Life is too short for half-hearted connections and meaningless run-throughs. Dad, you were never on your phone, I wish I could be more like you in that way. I’m going to try to be.
- It’s okay to not be okay. Really, it is. We all have to deal with trials and struggles at some point in our life, it’s okay to have angry days, sad days, so-so days, and even days when you don’t want to see anyone. Days when you just can’t be happy and you think that it’s a terrible day, and you don’t even know why because you just woke up, but don’t let those days consume your life. Talk to your friends, talk to your mentors, parents, pastors. Be open and honest with them. They WANT to know how you’re doing. They’re your support system, and will encourage you when you’re feeling down. Dad, you always showed me that it’s okay to be human, but how we react after the situation settles, that’s what matters. It doesn’t matter how big of a step you take, just as long as you take one.
- Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. We aren’t meant to live in our comfort zone, make sure you are stepping outside the boundaries you’ve made for yourself and find those small adventures that are out there waiting for you. Take time to travel, make new friends, find new hobbies you can enjoy in the future…life is too short to sit around and do nothing. For me, if you hadn’t passed away Dad, I never would have been able to experience the breathtaking and soul renewing that Glacier National Park gave me.
- GOD is ALWAYS faithful. No matter what trials or hardships seem to come my way, I know that He alone can give me the strength to get through it. God alone is our strength and our refuge. We need to trust His will and His timing. We may not always get to choose what our circumstances are, but we can choose how we deal with it. We can worry and choose fear or we can trust God to lead us through it. Personally, the second option sounds a lot better, and I know you would agree with me on this one dad.
Dad, you were and always will be my motivation to fight through struggles, work hard, act without fear, smile through the pain, to dream bigger and make those dreams come true. I know that moving on in life without you has and will continue to be hard, but I hope you’re proud of the woman I’m becoming. I really hope that I haven’t let you down in some way…I’m sorry if I did.
I love you Dad, forever and always. I hope and pray heaven is treating you kindly. May you continue to rest in peace with Jesus, I’ll see you on the other side someday.
With all my love, heart, and soul,
Sara Jane ❤