I will never forget my sixth birthday party. All my cousins from my dad’s side of the family were there. My dad is one of six so I had a lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins there. Some friends of mine from the neighborhood were there as well. I was so excited to play outside I ran straight though the screen on our back door. But there was one person missing, my dad. I kept asking my mom when he was coming. I wanted to wait for him to blow out my candles. Finally my mom told me he wasn’t going to make it because he was in the hospital, again. My dad had been sick on and off my whole life. He was diabetic and had to get a kidney transplant. He didn’t take good care of his illness and often had dips in blood sugar in which I ran to get a can of pineapples for him to eat. He smoked and had to be put on an oxygen tank. It was normal to me that my dad was sick but it stung differently this time.
I don’t remember this next part, but my mom has told me that I asked her that day, “is he gonna die?” and she replied, “maybe honey.” For the next week I walked around telling everyone, “My daddy’s gonna die.” Obviously people didn’t know how to react to that. And I didn’t know what that meant. I was just six.
One day soon after, my mom was driving my younger brother and I to school and I knew something was wrong. She always dropped me off first, then Josh. But after dropping Josh off at school I began to ask, “Why am I not going to school today?” My mom took me to Lake Ella, kneeled down in front of me and with tears in her eyes she said, “Dad died last night.” I remember hugging her as she cried and telling her, “it’s going to be ok mommy.” But I didn’t cry. I didn’t know that what was happening was sad. I didn’t understand that I would never see my dad again. I didn’t understand what death was.
Everyone deals with death in a different way. It took me years to work though the fact that my dad was gone forever. It’s something no child should have to go through. But even as an adult dealing with death isn’t easy. In a previous post I shared about the death of my friend Becky. There are still days that I see something or hear something that reminds me of her and want to call. Seeing pictures of her hanging in my kitchen or in my wedding album still sting.She loved birthday’s. She loved giving gifts and celebrating people. Her birthday is next week and I’ve been thinking about her a lot.
In my grieving process I’ve desperately clung to the happy memories. The ones we loved may be gone from this earth but don’t let the pain you feel keep you from the wonderful memories you have of them.
“Gone dancing” is written on my dad’s tombstone. I like to picture him this way. The last day I spent with Becky is written on my heart forever. We went to Disney world together last February and I love remembering her joy as we took a picture in front of the castle. If you’ve recently lost someone you love, I’d like to comfort you today by reminding you of the memories they’ve written on your heart and encourage you to hold tight to them. I’d also like to remind you that it’s going to take time to work through the loss, but it won’t hurt like this forever.
Who are the people in your life that you don’t want to loose? Who are the people in your life that you love and care for? Do they know how much they mean to you?
Don’t let another day pass without them knowing. Tomorrow is promised to no one. I want to live and love every moment with this in mind.