On January 25th, 2015 two little words changed my life.
Staring into the headlights of my cousins car, my mom’s tiny frame ran towards me. My knees felt like they cracked through the pavement as I saw the tears run down her face and she whispered the words we were too afraid to even think.
In an instant I went from the girl with a full family to the girl who lost the first man in her life.
How could he actually be gone for good?
Disbelief became a familiar feeling. Though tears came while I rocked my little brother to sleep in my arms, and again when people gave my hand an extra squeeze, nothing really clicked. It felt like there was this huge disconnect between what had happened and the reality my brain comprehended. I went back to school that following Monday and was almost surprised to see the shock on my classmate’s faces.
For some, grief hits immediately; for others, grief hits when you least expect it. But, for most, grief hits in waves. One minute you’re standing still and the waves just take you down and down and down, but then you’re back up in the calm like it never happened…till another wave comes.
Plain and simple, death sucks, and it’s a type of grief that never really goes away.
Carrying this loss has changed who I am tremendously, it has also allowed me to look at life in a new light.
Through my loss, I have learned:
1. I am a protector. I want nothing more than to wrap those I love in love so they always feel safe and secure. I will always remember the people who filled my family’s home with love during the aftermath of my dad’s death. Family members, friends, teachers, coaches, and even those I had lost touch with offered up their time and pantries to make sure my family was doing okay. I want to do the same for those I love.
2. It is harder for me to open up than it once was. I try to be an open book but from time to time, I find it impossible to offer up my feelings and problems on a silver platter. I am lucky to be surrounded by people who genuinely want to be there, but sometimes only I can really understand why I’m feeling the way I do.
3. Tears can come at all times. It’s what everyone says, but it’s true: It never gets easier.
4. Memories fade faster than you could ever expect — I am grateful when others share their memories of my dad with me, it helps to keep him alive.
5. I have become a better person who really appreciates the life I have.
The truth about losing a parent is that it will never be something that is easy — no matter if it is expected or not.
My dad was a man who exploded with life, I feel lucky to have even known him.
My advice to you, whether you’ve lost a parent or are lucky enough to still have both of yours around: Take every moment of life and savor it. Savor your time with the ones you love, savor your time to yourself. As cliche as it sounds, life is too damn short to waste even a second.
I want to hear from you in the comments below!
How have you dealt with loss or grief? How have you helped those around you experiencing these feelings? What advice would you give to those with heavy hearts?