My dad used to tell me that there are only two sure things in this world: death and taxes. Over the decades this adage has been repeated throughout the generations over and over again. I used to think it was funny, and for the longest time growing up I thought it was just a family “saying”. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I learned that it was actually a quote from Benjamin Franklin. Did I tell my daddy I knew the truth? Heavens no. Sometimes it’s okay to hide the truth for the ones we love.
But that quote is so very true. Just like the government (and so many states) take their cut of your earnings…we must all face death in life. No one lives forever. It’s the natural order of things…a fact that I’ve learned to come to accept. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life.
But on this day nineteen years ago…I lost my daddy.
I have never known such loss. Even to this day I haven’t felt such loss.
I always knew it would happen one day, but are you really prepared to bury your parent at 18 yrs old? To become a fatherless daughter? To go on through the rest of your life without having that one last phone call, one last I love you, one last goodbye?
Every January 9th I’m reminded of the pain I felt in those cold, quiet, early hours of 2001 when the first string of phone calls started to come through from the hospital. I should have been there, but even if I had been…nothing could have been done. I had just moved back home after a failed relationship, my aunt had power of attorney, and there was no consulting me in the decisions as he slipped away in a medically induced coma.
My world crashed around me. Everything hurt. We lived in a bubble together. We suffered in this life together. When he came out as gay…it wasn’t just him that was a target. I was too. When people say that there have been tremendous advancements in acceptance and rights for the LGBT community, you have no idea how true that is if you never lived in that life in the 80s and 90s.
I was alone. Empty.
I spent much of the first months after he died in a daze. It all seemed so surreal. We, as children, sometimes go through life naive to idea of losing our parents. Even if we had already lost so many people. Our parents are going to live forever. We take for granted how short our lives truly are.
I don’t care how old you are…if you’re parents are still alive…don’t take them for granted. Pick up that phone. Take one moment out of every day to be thankful for the blessing that life has given you for another day of “I love you’s”. Make that hug hello or goodbye last just one squeeze or second longer. Make. Every. Day. Count.
But if you’re like me…and you’re missing a parent…know that you’re not alone. I am there with you in heart and in spirit. I’m here for you.
And to the daddy that I miss so terribly, I hope that somehow you are with me. I know that you never thought of me as perfect, but at the end of my life I hope I will learn that I have made you proud.
If only I could tell you one last time how much I love you, and how very proud to have you as my daddy.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano