My Facebook feed is full of tributes to people’s dads. I see happy faces of daughters and daddies and sons and daddies. And every.single.time. I see one, my stomach turns. It’s like the air gets sucked out of me like a balloon that was just untied. I was in Target a couple of days ago and went to the card section to get a Father’s Day card for my husband…and as soon as I walked up and saw all of the cards for the dads, tears spilled out of my eyes, rolled down my face, past my chin, and dripped on the floor. I couldn’t stop it from happening. The emotions swallowed me. I won’t be buying a Father’s Day card for my Daddy this year or ever again…I won’t get to tell him what he means to me this Father’s Day or share my appreciation of his life on Facebook or other social media outlet. He’s gone. It’s a hard pill to swallow, y’all.
Next month marks the one year anniversary of his death, but I feel like I haven’t seen him or talked to him in a decade. I haven’t had a dream about him since two weeks after he died. Every night when I fall asleep, I really hope he’ll show up. Whenever I drive past a lake or river, I pray that I’ll look over and see him in a boat holding up a fish at the end of his pole and waving at me with a huge smile. Or when I walk out on my back porch, I want to see him sitting there with one leg crossed over the other, laughing at the dogs, watching the birds, and telling me, “Come sit with me Babe.” When I’m at Momma and Daddy’s house, I want to drive around the corner and see him on the riding lawn mower, with his big hat on, throwing his hand up in the air to wave at me. I want to hear him shuffle down the hall and ask me if I want to have gravy in the morning for breakfast. I want him to call me weeks ahead of my visit so he can plan out which night he’s gonna cook ribs and which night we’re gonna have fried okry (his way of saying okra). I want to get out of my car in their driveway and him walk me over to the outside fridge to show me my favorite beer that he got me and the red wine he bought Bob (even though it was Port). I want to see the smile on his face as Presley eats two full slabs of ribs at the Rendezvous and have him tell me to let Presley order two ribeyes at Uncle Johns if he wants them. I want to hear him tell Bella how beautiful and sweet she is. I want to see him smile as Cross and my Momma play the piano together. I just want to watch him experiencing life again…loving his life the way he did, with such joy and gratitude. Simple things gave him such joy and I miss life through his eyes.
The hardest part, at least I think, is that there was no beautiful goodbye. No last hug. No kiss. No words of affirmation, thankfulness or gratitude. No last hug and words of love for his wife, kids or grandkids. Instead, it was me throwing my kids and dogs in the car, driving like mad 6 hours away to get to him. And then there was horrendous tragedy. I’m standing in the hall outside of his room screaming at the top of my lungs so loudly that I messed up a vocal chord. “DAAAAAADY I’M HERE! I’M HERE!!!! FIGHT DADDY! PLEEEEEEEEASE FIGHT!!!!! DON’T GO DADDY! DON’T LEAVE US! DADDY I’M HERE! I’M HERE!!!! PLEASE DADDY…PLEASE DADDY. GOD HELP HIM!!!! PLEASE GOD, NOT YET!! I HAVE TO SEE HIM!!!” I’m watching my momma sobbing, sobbing, sobbing…my sister is screaming and puking. We all fell on the floor. Physically, we couldn’t handle the emotional pain while standing…our bodies collapsed. We’re all hysterical, absolutely hysterical. There are nurses and doctors spilling out of his room into and down the hallway…but they couldn’t help him. The doctor comes out, tears rolling down his face, and delivers the terrible news that he’s gone. He told us that he fought so hard for us…and I wonder over and over again what that looked like. How was that different than someone who doesn’t fight hard?
There was no painful suffering that I was thankful Daddy could finally escape…no cancer that his body would finally be rid of…no months or years of a terrible disease that I was glad to see him not have to endure any longer…no mean disease that had taken his memory and changed him. He was just ripped away from us, just like that, from a life that he was living to the fullest. I know that death is sad no matter what. In the end, the person is gone, bottom line. But man, reliving that night over and over and over again…how my life was jerked out from underneath me so quickly and so violently, just flat out sucks.
And grief, oh how quickly grief and I became constant companions. I’ve learned so much about grief, so much more than I ever wanted to know. Something that has been eye opening is this – grief and love run together. You can’t have one without the other, because if you really love, then when the person you love is gone, that love is replaced with grief. The love has nowhere to go…it’s still there, but without somewhere to go. So the emotion of love changes to grief. A friend of mine sent this to me a couple of days ago and I think it’s perfect.
I had my own notion of grief.
I thought it was the sad time
That followed the death of
Someone you love.
And you had to push through it
To get to the other side.
But I’m learning there is no other side.
There is no pushing through.
There is absorption.
And grief is not something you complete,
But rather, you endure.
Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself –
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.
I’m in a new club this year…a club that I didn’t choose for sure. The club is those who don’t have a Father on Father’s Day. So please, do me a favor. If your Daddy is alive, be grateful. Be thankful. Express love. I know it sounds cliche, but seriously, you have no clue when your life may be jerked out from underneath you and forever changed.
Happy Heavenly Father’s Day my precious Daddy…until I see you again, I will continue be so thankful for what you were to me my entire life and the amazing relationship we always had. You were the best Daddy in all the land and Melanie and I were beyond blessed to have you. I love you forever.