Today Sucks, & That's OK

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Ten years ago today, I was getting ready to go swimming when my mom got a phone call. I was supposed to be spending the weekend with my dad, but a party came up that I just had to go to. So I stayed home. And when my mom answered the phone, I immediately knew that something was wrong.

It was a fear I’d had for years. After I realized that the “drink” in my dad’s cup wasn’t just water. After numerous trips to rehab always ended up in relapse. After he’d failed to sober up to spend weekends with me on a disappointedly regular basis. My love for my dad was, and is, infinite, but there was always a part of me that knew this day was inevitable.

So as I stood next to my mom, and I heard my sister utter those two words, “dad’s dead,” it wasn’t shock that overtook me. It was relief. It felt like I’d been holding my breath for so long, for years, and then I could finally let it out. I could breathe. The grief came soon after, when I’d moved from the foyer floor to my mom’s bed and wavered between sleep and tears. People say grief is powerful, but it isn’t. It’s omnipotent. It took me away from friend groups and passions and swallowed me up, turned me around, spit me back out a different person.

At first, I couldn’t stop being angry. It wasn’t fair, and I was mad at myself for not going to see him when I was supposed to. Since then, that anger has turned into despair and then into a hollow pain that I can’t even begin to describe. Now, I’m mostly nostalgic. I was 13 when my dad died, so I don’t have as many memories of him as my older sisters do, so I try and go back to find memories I’ve forgotten.

But when I go back, I don’t just find memories of me smiling up at my dad. I find pain and regret and disappointment. I find an 11-year-old girl waiting patiently after dance lessons to be picked up by her dad, but after an hour had passed, she had to call her mom and they traveled to his hotel room to find him passed out on the bed, an empty bottle of tequila on the floor. So, I shut out this part of my life most days, pretend like it doesn’t exist.

But today I can’t do that. Because today marks ten years since my dad left this earth, and ten years of me desperately clinging on to any piece of him I could find. I ask my sisters what music he liked, I ask my mom what his favorite food was. And that makes it so much worse. That I can’t answer these things for myself, because I didn’t actually know my dad all that well. What 13-year-old does? I know he loved westerns, and Jesus, and Mexican food and golf. I know he loved to watch me dance or sing (badly) and hold me close. For me, that has to be enough.

Ten years without a dad isn’t something I would wish on anyone. And while some people may find peace in the old adage, “he’s in a better place,” (which, don’t get me wrong, I know my dad is in heaven), for me, the peace comes in knowing that I was once loved beyond reason by the best man I’ve known, and that I’m still forever loved by the best heavenly father a girl could have. In that, I find rest.

But today I can’t do that. Because today marks ten years since my dad left this earth, and ten years of me desperately clinging on to any piece of him I could find. I ask my sisters what music he liked, I ask my mom what his favorite food was. And that makes it so much worse. That I can’t answer these things for myself, because I didn’t actually know my dad all that well. What 13-year-old does? I know he loved westerns, and Jesus, and Mexican food and golf. I know he loved to watch me dance or sing (badly) and hold me close. For me, that has to be enough.

Ten years without a dad isn’t something I would wish on anyone. And while some people may find peace in the old adage, “he’s in a better place,” (which, don’t get me wrong, I know my dad is in heaven), for me, the peace comes in knowing that I was once loved beyond reason by the best man I’ve known, and that I’m still forever loved by the best heavenly father a girl could have. In that, I find rest.