How The Most Emotional Event in My Life Has Made Me a Stronger Person
How the death of my father ultimately made me a stronger person.
My dad and I were super close from as far back as I can remember. We had a tremendous emotional bond that not many parents and children maintain during their lifetime.
He was so many things to me. My best friend. My confidante. My shoulder to cry on. My advisor. My biggest critic and my biggest supporter. At times he infuriated me to no end, but he always told me the way it was, whether I wanted to hear it or not. And the thought of him not being in my life was unthinkable and something that I chose not to think about….ever.
Was it unrealistic to think that he would not be here forever? Of course. But like so many others, we tend to not think of things that we know will destroy us emotionally and alter our lives in ways that we don’t even want to think about. That was my dad.
He had a personality that was so huge. I never met anyone that didn’t like him. So when I would introduce someone to him, I would always tell them, ‘you will love my dad,’ and everyone did.
He opened up his home to everyone. He loved having picnics in his screen room, and he would invite everyone and anyone. Boating was his passion, and he loved his boat. And he loved taking others out boating, as well. He would take them on tours of the area, to see the Sponge Docks from the water, and out to the island for a day of swimming and picnics.
We would go out fishing regularly, and he was like a little kid when he would catch that big one.
Life was incredible with my dad.
When he died suddenly from a massive heart attack, I didn’t know how to survive or if I even would. My world was gone. My life as I knew it was over.
No longer did I have that great man to talk to. To spend time with. To laugh with. To complain to. And to cry to.
My biggest regret. Three months before my dad’s death, the pandemic was at its critical point, and I stayed away from him so that I wouldn’t put him at risk of getting sick. So for months, my interaction with him was minimal.
If I had known what I know now, I would have taken precautions but still spent as much time with him as possible. Hindsight is a bitch.
Two days before his death, he wanted to have a Memorial Day picnic for just the immediate family. He had recently developed a lot of back pain and could barely stand, but he refused to cancel the picnic because he wanted to spend some time with his family.
That was the last time I saw my dad alive. The last time that we were together as a family. Even though he was in pain, he was so happy to be with his family doing what he loved to do.
So What Have I Learned?
After my dad’s death, funeral, and all of the chaos that comes with the passing of a loved one, it was time to figure out my ‘new’ normal. Whatever that was. I had no idea.
So many times I went to pick up the phone to tell him something that happened only to remember that he wasn’t here. My first thought was to always tell my dad, no matter what it was.
When I was at my worst and had no idea how I would move forward, I started to remember the lessons he taught me over the years. The strength that he instilled in me. The ‘never give up’ attitude that he pushed on me ever since I was a child.
He always told me that I’m stronger than I think and that I can get through anything. But could I get through this emptiness and loneliness of not having him here with me? I wasn’t sure.
It’s been a year and a half. I’m still here, and I have managed to move forward with my life. I’ve had to make sure that I am strong for my family and that I’m always there for my daughter when she needs me.
I honestly do not think that I would have gotten through this without my father’s love and support throughout my entire life. He made me the strong, independent person that I am. I guess I always was, but it took the death of someone that I loved and admired dearly to make me see that what he taught me has been with me all along. I just never knew it.
Now I strive to be that person for my family. I want to be that person for my daughter. I want to give her the strength to get through anything, no matter the circumstance.
I want to be the mom for her that my dad was for me.
That, in my opinion, is true love between a parent and a child.
And that is what my dad taught me through all of these years. Strength, love, determination, and never give up. These traits will live with me until the day I’m gone.
My dad’s greatest legacy will be that my daughter can pass these traits on to her children and from there on to the next generation. And his strength and love will be taught from generation to generation.
That is the greatest gift my dad would ever have wanted.