It’s funny how life, how just simply living, changes and shapes us. From one experience to the next we slowly become different people. Whether they are good experiences, bad ones, or neutral, they all change us in little ways.
When I was younger, I was afraid of everything. I had very little guidance, and even less moral guidance. When I was a teen I finally started learning about God. I tried to follow positive influences, but was still surrounded by the previous mentioned “guidance.” After I turned 18, everything became my decision. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, or even could, believe in God anymore, so I wandered off. There were mistakes, the bindings of new friendships, reunions with old ones, lesson after lesson. That seems to be a constant in life. No matter what you’re going through, there is some type of lesson to be learned. Some of us will actually learn the lesson and avoid the mistakes in the future; others will keep repeating the mistakes, never truly learning anything at all. But that is the beauty of life: you will always have another chance.
One thing I did learn for myself was that I needed to learn everything FOR myself. I needed the experiences. My husband and I were perfectly matched. We were both into rock music, vampires, death, cemeteries, and pretty much anything gothic. We had repressed feelings from our childhoods, wrote of sinister things, and decorated with black, dragons, gargoyles, and swords. And neither of us really believed in religion and were both doubtful of God.
Then a day came that changed my every aspect on life. Four words were all I heard on the other end of the line. Four little words stopped my world from turning.
Linda called us from across town around 4 am. She was crying and choked out, “Your Dad is dead.”
That one experience has changed me forever. It’s not exactly something you can learn from, but it is something you can grow from, strangely.
I dropped the phone, dropped to my knees as Todd tried to catch me and grab the phone. He asked Linda what was going on and she told him. He told her we’d be right over. Then he kneeled on the kitchen floor, holding me while I cried hysterically and repeated deliriously that it wasn’t real. I don’t know how long we sat there on the floor before I started to think about Linda being alone. So we collected ourselves, and headed out to Dad’s house.
The cops were already there. Todd parked the car and I jumped out, started running towards the house. Just as I got to the front porch I stopped, broke into hysterics again. There was no way I could go in that house. Todd went in to see Linda and let her know we were there. I stayed outside until the ambulance took Dad away. They say most people need to see the body in order to get closure but that was just a memory I didn’t want. I was happy with the last memory I had of Dad, and I was going to keep it that way.
The world seemed smaller after that day. March 19, 2005. Things I thought were so important just weren’t anymore. I’d never felt more empty in all my life.
It’s been six years. I’m no longer fascinated with death. If anything, I fear it. People have their theories on what happens after death, but all we actually know is that no one really comes back. They’re here one day, and then they’re gone. Just… gone. And I also believe in Heaven now. Because the thought of an absolute end, where I’ll never see Dad again, well, those thoughts just don’t fit in my head.
I don’t think death is evil. It’s natural. Death is just unforgiving. There is no second chance. There is no rewind button. There is no point you can just start over and try again. There is no lesson learned. There is no chance of changing all the things you wish you could have changed about the time you had with the person who died. You can’t go back and spend more time with them, tell them how wonderful they are, and how blessed you’ve been to have them in your life. You can’t tell them that you wouldn’t trade them for any other father in the world.
There were a few people who were pretty upset that I was the one who lived near Dad, that I chose to move 3000 miles away from everything and everyone else I’d ever known. I was told who he was by everyone in my life my whole life. It was my decision to find out for myself, to live near him, and get to know him. That was the part of me that needed to learn things for myself. I learned firsthand what a wonderful man he was. Six years was our time, and even though our time was short, I wouldn’t change it for anything you could offer.
Six years may seem like a long time to most people for someone to be grieving, but for pain that deep time has no meaning. It’s a hurt that doesn’t end with a void nothing else can fill. I still cry every time I look through our wedding album. The wedding was 3 months before Dad passed. I had to leave the room the one time my mother-in-law put in our wedding video. It’s hard looking at any of his photos. I can’t listen to my Dad singing his classic songs. I become a total nutcase the week of his death every year, and on his birthday. When I try to explain to my kids where Grandpa is, I break down every time. And thankfully, Todd will let me cry, and just tell me how much Dad loved me. He’s never once made me feel bad for just missing my Dad. I am fortunate to have him.
I don’t fear my Dad’s memory. I can’t think of a single bad one about him. And it’s not that I don’t want to remember him, because I do. I just don’t want to remember that he’s gone.
We had a slight malfunction with my wedding dress, so everyone who
was there did what they could think of to get it fixed!
We danced to Rope the Moon, by John Michael Montgomery.
It was the song I dedicated to him at the wedding.