Last year, it finally clicked that I've lived more years without my dad-than with. I lost my dad when I was 11, and the thought of forgetting him gives me anxiety. I almost forgot his birthday once, and at 11pm that night I had a panic attack. He got sick before Facebook and Instagram, so we don't have this digital scrapbook that will last forever. We have portraits and old photos that we pass around every year. I've moved so much in that past few years, that I can't keep track of everything. Freshman year of undergrad, I found a statue of Michael Jordan in his Space Jam uniform in his old things. It's about 3 feet tall, and probably the oddest thing you will ever see. But it makes me feel safe. That statue has been to: Waco, Austin, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles with me. You see, I always brag about traveling alone-but I never have. I think the biggest fear of a child who has lost a parent is forgetting. You never want to forget.
I never cry. I am probably one of the most emotionally unavailable people you will ever meet. *Kanye shrugs* I won't cry with you over material things. I won't cry with you over things that you can control. But I will instantly cry if I hear about a child losing their parent. Because I get that. But i'm not necessarily mourning your loss. I'm sad about the journey you're about to go through. Children who have lost a parent know that the first few days are not the hardest. Those days are usually numb. You don't really feel anything. There are too many people around. There are too many distractions. The pain comes about 6 weeks after. When the flowers stop being delivered and the phone stops ringing. When everyone outside of your immediate family must go back to their normal lives. When you're finally alone and have to figure things out. I mourn for the single mothers who have to grieve while being strong for their children. I mourn for the daughters ignoring Father's day each year. I mourn for the first time you accidentally call your parent with no answer. I know how difficult those years of figuring it out will be, and I hurt for you. We all hurt for you. I was really lucky. Weeks after my dad passed, my mom enrolled my sister and I in this non profit. I basically met up with 12 other kids who had just lost a parent. We got to talk about how weird things were. And how awkward everyone else was being. We got to feel like we weren't the only ones going through it. And that was beautiful. So if you've just lost a parent, then I hope you know that you're not alone.
You want me to be honest? I hate when people say things like: "your dad would be so proud." Do you not know how much pressure that is putting on a person? I work my ass off. *pops collar* I've talked to a few others about this, and I feel like children who have lost a parent feel like they have to win. Like I have to make my dad proud. When the truth is-they would probably be proud at us for just making it.
Is Kinda Creepy
It's creepy....isn't it? I mean think about it: why would I want to go through my rebellious teenage years knowing that. I just want to act a mess-and not feel guilty about it sometimes. *Kanye shrugs*
When you first lose someone, there are a lot of promises made by people who don't know that they aren't able to keep them. It's the truth. They don't mean to move on. Or forget. It's just life. They have to move on to keep afloat. Because of this fact....i'm pretty good at change. I know that people change. I know that people change people. And I know that you will lose people.
The Way They Believe You Are Going To
For some reason, everyone else thinks I have an opinion on their relationship with their father. Newsflash: I DON'T! I'm not going to be jealous if you tell me about how awesome your dad is. I'm not going to lecture you if you haven't talked to him in years. I understand that every relationship is different, and I can only speak from my experiences. My truth.
Feel Comfortable With Your Loss
I say this often, but it doesn't make me uncomfortable to talk about my father. It makes YOU uncomfortable, that's why I don't do it as much. People literally don't know what to do when they learn you've lost a parent at a young age. And it's awkward as hell.
I loved my father...sooooo much that it hurts sometimes. I still remember the morning of his passing like it was yesterday. I remember every emotion that I felt and every question that I had. But I also remember memories of before he got sick. I remember him at soccer games, and Kindergarten graduations. I remember him watching boxing matches, and taking us to birthday parties. I remember him giving my sisters and I matching "Daddy's Little Girl" shirts. I remember him being happy, and celebrating everyday of his life. So I choose to celebrate his life, by living mine.
And it's ok to be angry for awhile. Don't let them tell you that you can't be. It's ok to cry. It's ok to break. You are allowed to feel that. There are going to be days that you should be ecstatic at how well you're doing in life----and you will feel like something is missing.
I'm going to be honest with you: it will NEVER be the same. Life will never go back to being "normal." But you'll find a new normal. I can't promise that it'll be better or easier. But I promise that you can get through it.