I miss my dad. I’m not sure there’s an easy way to talk about it or describe how it feels to not have one of your parents around but a lesson I’ve learned through writing here the last 5 years is that writing almost always makes me feel better so that is what we are going to try and accomplish now.
My dad died when I was 19 from a brain tumour. I vividly remember the drives out to his place and eventually to Sudbury where he was at the hospital. It wasn’t super drawn out but also didn’t happen suddenly. I can remember thinking the Christmas before it happened that I was under the impression that this was going to be the last Christmas we spent together; unfortunately, I was right.
I try not to use vulgar language whilst writing these posts but if I’m allowed to speak freely, losing your dad fucking sucks. The thing people don’t tell you is that while the immediate pain eventually goes away, you’re never back to 100%. Your first birthday, Thanksgiving, his birthday and Christmas are all reminders of what just happened. Oh, so you graduated from school, booked a one-way ticket or going to your brother’s wedding? Don’t worry, it will all become much sadder because it’s a reminder that person isn’t around to experience it with you. I have a nephew who talks about a papa he will never get to meet. Whoever draws the short straw and falls in love with Teacher Bert won’t ever get to watch a movie with my dad and almost immediately hear him snore.
On the plus side, I won’t have to hear him complain about my grass being too long or not green enough. My kids won’t be told how when they walk they pronate and should get orthotics. They won’t be told when they’re bored to walk the dog or do their research for a research project they don’t have. They won’t know the sweet sound of gospel music being blasted at 400% volume or the reliability of their grandpa eating all their chocolate bars they need to sell for school.
While it is by far the worst thing that has ever happened to me, there are small bright sides. No matter what obstacle has come my way since then, it pales in comparison. Oh, that girl doesn’t want to give you her number? Tough break but it beats being at your dad’s funeral. I’ve probably saved a few dollars on Father’s Day gifts that I’d like to say have transferred into better Mother’s Day gift but we all know that’s not true.
I suppose another reason I’m writing this post is because a big portion of people in my age bracket haven’t had to deal with this type of scenario. Some have but most haven’t. This is my attempt into giving people a peek into what life after death is like. Oftentimes, when I hear that a friend is going through something similar, it brings me right back to that day I was in the room with my brother when it all went south. After that happens, most people are rightfully at a loss for what to say. There’s no magic word or pill to make you feel better. While a Facebook message or text from me isn’t going to change the trajectory of their next few weeks, I hope that it gives a brief glimmer of hope that eventually, it won’t hurt. Eventually it will make you tougher; eventually it will make you realize we only get once chance on planet Earth and we need to love while we can. Be as sad/angry/frustrated/confused as you like. Emotions are meant to be felt. You need to feel it. People grieve in different ways.
My best advice would be to surround yourself with people who love you. Cry as much or as little as you like. Get mad if that’s how you feel. Feel hopeless, betrayed or devastated. I would suggest not making any rash life choices or doing anything that might harm you. I would also caution against drinking too soon after. It could lead to you asleep on the grass outside an ESSO gas station while a group of girls wakes you up to call your mom who lives 30 minutes outside of town instead of walking the 5 minutes back down the street from where you came from. It could also end with you signing a release form by paramedics stating you refused help and to sign where the X is. You could sign your name and the paramedic alerts you to the fact that you signed your name but not where the X is. You may also awake at home in your bathroom, miss work and a dentist appointment but those are all hypothetical.
Just to be clear, I didn’t write this to make anyone sad, or for anyone to feel sorry for me. I have and do live a charmed life. I am insanely lucky to have the family I have, endless opportunity, great friends and health. If I could reshuffle the deck, there’s no chance I would take that deal. We all get dealt different hands and I just wanted to shed some light on a topic that consumes some of my daily thoughts.
If your mom, dad, uncle, grandma or grandpa are still around and you find yourself wondering how much time you have left, I have one suggestion for you:
Find pictures of them as baby, kid, teenager and adult and ask them what the heck was going on in those pictures. Family albums are gems that I promise will make your sides hurt. Find an album, brew some tea and listen to some stories.
Let’s end on a positive note. The lessons I learned through being my father’s son is not to work hard, love your family and put them first, the baby is always the favourite, water the grass, shovel the driveway and walkways, put salmon in tinfoil and steam it in the dishwasher without other dishes, give back (20+ years hosting a three hour, volunteer Gospel radio show), get good snow tires, no joking around at border crossings, a love for driving, a soft spot for ‘Con Air’, ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and ‘Married with Children’, and to cheer and stick up for the underdog.
I sometimes wonder what he would think of Thailand, New Zealand, Poland and whatever comes next. I think that he would worry about me getting hurt, (he didn’t instill a great enough fear of roofs into me) and not seeing my family enough but I think that he would think that this has been a pretty cool ride. I bet he would want me to meet a beautiful, smart young woman to spend the end of time with but it’s comforting to know that meeting my future draw dropping wife won’t instantly give him a heart attack. Love your friends and family with all your heart. Time marches on and we don’t always get second chances. Photo albums.
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