I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them!
Up now is Melissa from Adventures of Ninjamama. She is one of the people I am blessed to call a friend after meeting and connecting online. Like me, she lost her father too young, and approaches Father's Day with pause and hesitation. You can find her on her blog here and on her Facebook page here. She and I share far too many paths in this world...and someday we will find one another in person.
Fourteen years ago today, my life changed in a way I had never expected. I never saw it coming. I never imagined it possible.
Fourteen years ago today, my Dad died.
All these years and living later, typing those words still makes my eyes well with tears and my heart feel like it’s being crushed. I remember not being able to get in touch with him that day. We’d last seen each other on February 5, 1999, when he’d brought a stuffed puppy-dog to the office where I was working as the first present for my unborn child. We’d last spoken on the telephone on February 6, 1999, just before I went to dinner with my Mom and Mimi. I could hear the smile on his face when we spoke. I always – always – knew how much he loved me. For that I will always be thankful.
I remember not being able to get in touch with him that Sunday. I tried the house phone, I stopped by the gym where he religiously worked out – on my way to his house. I didn’t think twice about the ridiculous fact that I couldn’t get a hold of him. Until. Until I was turning onto the highway that would lead me to his house… to the place where I would find him, dead – gone some twelve hours… and I heard the only song that had made him cry. “The Living Years,” by Mike and the Mechanics.
I must have been eight or nine years old. We were driving around my hometown, in his Toyota Celica, and the song came on the radio. He began to silently cry, and I remember my heart aching then – much as it does now when I allow myself to miss him. He told me it made him think of his Dad… his Dad who died – just as unexpectedly – two years before I’d been born.
When that song began to play on the radio, I knew. I did. I tried to push it out of my head and heart – but I knew.
His car was parked in the driveway when I arrived at his house. My safety-brain tried to convince my reality-brain that all was okay. When I got inside, the house was much too quiet. I tried to look for signs that things were normal – I was just pregnant and tired, so my mind was doing overtime. Right? Right.
I remember the climb of the stairs to his bedroom, and opening the door. I know I will never forget it. As soon as I saw him, I knew. Well, rationally, I knew. But my heart wouldn’t let my brain accept it yet. There was a phone next to his bed, but my brain didn’t register that. I ran back downstairs and grabbed the kitchen phone . I frantically dialed 911, and I have no idea what I said. I do, however, remember what I said when I called my Mom. “He’s dead. He’s DEAD.” I then collapsed into the arms of the emergency worker whose name I’ve always wished I knew. The way she held her arms out to me when she said “We won’t be transporting” let me know that she completely understood my heartache.
Just a week before he’d looked me straight in the eye and said “You are going to be a wonderful mother.” It was after some seemingly silly exchange between me and my grandmother during a game of cribbage and while I’d smiled and been thankful, I didn’t really appreciate the comment. Not until he was gone, and couldn’t reassure me that I was doing the best I could.
What always strikes me is this:
“I wasn’t there that morning, when my father passed away. I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say. I think I caught his spirit, later that same year. I’m sure I heard his echo in my baby’s newborn tears, I just wish I could have told him in the living years.”
My Dad and I shared a kindredship that I miss terribly. I wish I could have had more than the 20 years I was blessed to know him. Mostly, I wish I could hug him. Right now. Tell him that I GET IT. That he was the most amazing Dad a girl could ever have… that I often think of our walks and bike rides and apple picking days… and I vividly remember him being the only thing I saw in the hallway after the senior year high school baccalaureate night, with his arms wide open, ready to hold his weeping teenage daughter. That although I tried to appear brave, I found such comfort in the look on his face that told me his heart was breaking, too, when he left me on my first night at college.
I wish I could tell him that I completely understand – now – how hard it is to be a parent. How much your heart breaks when you realize you’ve fucked up, and how you’ll do anything – ANYTHING – to fix it.
I wish I could look him in the eye and tell him:
“You were everything and more a girl could ever ask for in a Dad, and I was BLESSED to have you.”
In the most loving of memories,
Paul E. GuernonJune 25, 1950 – February 7, 1999