What Losing A Parent Taught Me About Deadlines

What Losing A Parent Taught Me About Deadlines

Don't waste your time, you never know how much you're going to get.

Jenna Jarvis

In my day-to-day life, time seems like a renewable resource. My issue with time is that I’ve become an expert at taking it for granted. College taught me that due dates are not established so my professors can watch me scramble to complete a difficult project by the end of the term. These dates are put into place to ensure that I accomplish all that I need to, with the time that I have. It wasn’t until four years ago that I wished someone had made it clear that my relationship with my dad had an expiration date of its own. I was sure that I had all the time in the world to connect with him, that I had decades to learn from my dad and make him so exceptionally proud of his only daughter. On June 24, 2013, I was presented with the most painful deadline of my life: my mom gave me the news that my dad had passed away, and that my time with him had been permanently interrupted.

My dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in May of my sophomore year of high school. At the time of his diagnosis, I had no idea what the future held for him. In fact, for a while I was so immensely uninformed about the disease that I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. As a result of my dad practicing a religion which focused on healing through prayer, rather than a medical approach, our entire family was completely caught off guard when we learned about the presence of the cancer. Albeit my father begrudgingly accepted treatment, he never faltered in his prayers that he would be well again.

Throughout my childhood I hoped to someday have that quintessential father-daughter relationship portrayed in almost every sitcom and after-school special. Although I didn’t actually end up having a Brady Bunch-esque home life, I know that so much of dad’s personality lives on in me. His love for vocabulary is the reason I have developed the skills to proficiently articulate myself in such an erudite fashion. His apparently hereditary sense of humor is the reason I just wrote that sentence. Aside from our similarities, a staggering difference between my dad and I is that he was not one for wasting time. He was one of the most well-traveled, daring, witty, charismatic, and humorous people I will ever know. My dad was not a man who sat on the sidelines of life; he was the guy who showed up to the premiere of the movie “Jaws” in head-to-toe scuba gear—down to the fins on his feet.

Unfortunately, it was not until his memorial service that I learned about the many adventures and outrageous antics that occurred during my father’s life. Hearing about my dad’s extreme passion for pushing the envelope so far that he probably could have lived in the post office, was the catalyst for my decision to take some monumental first steps down a completely different path in life. I realized that I needed to stop being nostalgic about the “perfect” relationship I wanted with my dad, and instead I would focus on the joy that we brought to each other’s lives.

I’m still learning how to abandon my comfort zone and acknowledge the fact that although time is limited, that does not mean I should let life pass me by. Thanks to my dad’s incontrovertible love for anything exciting, I’m constantly discovering new ways to express my love for life just like he did. At this rate, I should be sporting my own scuba gear in no time at all.

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