One week ago, we lost our dad. We didn’t lose him exactly, but he passed away. I always found the terms associated with death to be sweet, caring, nurturing…comforting, even. Maybe to someone else. To me, all the terms associated with your dad dying just sound like total bullshit.
My dad wasn’t like many other dads. But then again I suppose every daughter probably says that about her dad. But really, my dad was different. He was the kind of dad you could text in the middle of the night to check the status of that impending thunderstorm…that is, until he got sick. He’s the kind of dad who would chat forever about the ole’ Tom Petty albums or reminisce about the Traveling Wilbury’s “End of the Line” lyrics until he was blue in the face…that is, until he got sick and stopped listening to music. He was the kind of dad that had your back in every horrific relationship, and then had your husband’s back in the “right” relationship….that never changed, even at “the end”.
My dad and I had somewhat of a tumultuous relationship at times. I suppose some would say it’s because we’re too much alike. Too passionate. Too opinionated. Too sarcastic. Too trusting (yet too guarded?). The thing is, when I was younger, my dad was my best friend. The one I’d leave the safety and security and stability of my very own Mom’s house for. The one I’d defend through thick and thin, and the one I’d protect until my last breath. I’d eventually grow up and learn that some of those things caused more pain than relief, but nonetheless, that was my life for many years.
Throughout the past week I’ve heard from people who were directly impacted by my dad the same way I was when I was younger. He saved them. He helped them see clearly. He helped them find their worth and purpose. Though my dad was never a perfect man, (who is?), he cared deeply for the people in his life. He cared about my sister and my brother, and me. He was a proud man- in the way that every dad should be proud of his kids. He was protective, overly protective at times, but I trust now that he was always keenly aware of the times I needed the extra protection, even when I didn’t realize it.
I used to think (and this is an ugly truth that I’m about to admit) that my day-to-day life wouldn’t change if my dad wasn’t part of it. I have three kids. A husband. A job. A house. A brother and sister. A mom who means the infinite world to me. I have friends and a life and a career and all these things that I’ve created and developed and maintained- even in the many years my dad lived in other states. So I thought- my life won’t change much without his daily texts or weekly calls.
My. God. Was. I. Wrong.
The plants that have poured in from supporting friends and co-workers over the past week…how do I take care for them or re-pot them without my dad’s advice. That project that my brother just did in his garage- who will he send the picture of the final product to, if not my dad? Who will I talk to about the bitterly cold weather, and decipher if the roads are “Gretchen-capable” of driving on, if not my dad? The snarky post about his passing and the cruel, insensitive comments about his lifestyle that have been posted- who do I bitch to if not my dad.
You see, you never really know the impact and coverage someone has in your life- until you no longer have the option to doubt it or question it, or even appreciate it. You never understand a father’s true love for you until it’s absolutely taken from you. You’ll never understand the hurt and the pain of not being able to reach out to him…until he “passes,” or is “lost,” or is “gone.” And then, unfortunately, it’s just too late.
I have zero zero zero regrets when it comes to my relationship with my dad. I firmly believe in the power of God’s plan and the lessons we take and learn from every single relationship in our life. My relationship with my dad was much more than just a fleeting lesson, but it is a lifetime of love and value. A relationship that sustained me for years. A relationship that taught me, cautioned me, and fulfilled me. I will not let his “passing” take that from me.
Forever in my heart. I love you Dad.