Dad. The other day, I had an email confirmation that said somebody posted in your Legacy album. It was Caleigha. I sat there last night and read all the posts from the day you died to present. You were so loved. You were the glue that held us all together. Somehow, the battle you were fighting left you feeling defeated. You wanted to die that day. I often wonder, why you wouldn’t call one of us. Just once more. Maybe just maybe you’d be with us today.
We all kind of went our separate ways after that. Each of us battling the loss of our father and…life. Boy, how life hit us with some serious highs and lows since your death. We all grew through your loss. Just not together. No, little sis took her energy and it propelled her into her passion. She’s created the most beautiful family and pursued her Nursing Degree. She channelled her emotions into success! She’s selfless and a phenomenal Mother and you’d be so so proud of her. Big sis had a ton of tribulations and took her energy and emerged into a beautiful photographer. She found a zest for life that was missing. Her zeal is captured in every photo. Her strength and courage to live life to the fullest is seen in all her adventures. You’d be so proud of her too.
Your grandchildren…they miss you. Even the littles that never met you know you. Mom’s hanging in there too. She’s definitely lost a life long partner/friend. I could not honestly even pretend to know what losing the father of your children the one you raised children with, a life long partner and remaining friends for 30+ years would feel like. If I had to imagine it’d feel like you lost a limb. You two no matter how much at odds you could be, were always at the end of the day each others best friends. I can now see, as I’ve grown older how much you two did the best you knew to do.
I bet you’re wondering about me. Well, honestly Dad. I’ve had the toughest time coming to grips with your death. I don’t often allow myself to feel your loss. I had a tough time finding my passion and my way. I refused to go to your gravesite all but the two times I felt I had to. I’ve not allowed myself to cry in fear the tears won’t stop. You were the only person on this earth that ever had my back. No matter if I was right or wrong. You didn’t hardly agree on most of my decisions but I knew you agreed that Antoine was going to be the man I married. Knowing the conversation you had that night with him blessed me in ways you’ll never know now. You’d really like him. He’s much like you.
He’ll randomly whistle the theme song to the Andy Griffith Show. I giggle and think of you. He sings in the car, like you used to. He’s the BEST dad ever! He will give his last dollar to make someone else’s day. He and Halle have the same bond you and I shared. It’s cute to watch from the other side. He does anything and everything to see the people he loves and cares about smile. He sacrifices everything for himself. He works hard and takes pride in his family. He likes his bowls of cereal at night like you did. He’s got a sweet tooth too.
We moved to Colorado this summer. For the first time in 6 years I felt at peace. Oddly, Colorado feels like you’re in it. Like if I had to imagine you anywhere…it’s here. Not up in heaven but here in Colorado. Fishing, skiing, working, living. I see you in everything I do. In the Eagles, in the dragonflies or butterflies. I see you in my hiking. It feels like the further I climb the closer I am to you. I hear jokes out of your mouth when I see signs about “Rocky Mountain Oysters”. I see you in the snow. I see you, feel you and capture your presence in nearly all my photos.
My journey took a different path. After your death I struggled with internal demons. Depression and the meaning of life. I gave up on a lot of things because you did. You quit life. It took a very real traumatic life event to shock me back into reality and realize I have a life worth living and a God whose love endures forever. I’ve began channeling all that energy into my passion. Jesus. I was mad at Him for a while. I was self absorbed and broken. I blamed all my hurdles on everyone but never once held myself accountable for falling away from Him. The giver of all strength. I couldn’t see the love of others all around me, because I was so focused on the loss of the love of my father. I felt betrayed by you. How could a father leave his children, with no goodbye?
I’ve come to forgive you. I have forgiven myself too. I’ve just began to allow myself to heal and acknowledge your death. I realized that my God has never left my side. That He has taken the worst stories of my life and used them to heal others wounds through my ministering to them. He’s restored my soul. He’s showed me that he can work all things for the good. So this year Dad, I will celebrate your life. I will allow myself to share the stories of Papa with my children. To not keep the pain inside but channel it differently. I’ll never forget you Dad. You know what else? I think you’d be pretty proud of me too. I survived.
Happy Birthday Daddy!
2.5.1953 – 5.4.2011