A little over five years ago now, on February second of 2013 (Groundhog Day), I woke up to the raucous and confusion that was filling my Father's house in Elkton, Virginia. My grandfather knocked on the door and said that there was something wrong with my Dad. The paramedics were in his room administering CPR and that things looked pretty bad. Not very long after this... my Father was pronounced to be officially deceased. My Dad was dead.
His death was just another deep cut to go with the other losses that I experienced in only the span of three years, but his cut was definitely the deepest.
This caused a lot of changes in my life. I was now fatherless at only sixteen years old. My role model, my best friend, was gone. Gone forever. And I knew that once he was gone, I could never get him back. It was then that my depression began to grow rapidly, coming to full fruition my freshmen year of college. It is a battle I fight to this day.
At first, I felt nothing. I was numb. Then, I actually felt some form of relief. You see, my Dad had not been happy in quite awhile. In just a year or so prior to his death, my sister -- his daughter...his first-born nonetheless, passed away. This devastated him, as well as me and my brother. I felt a sense of relief in knowing that he was out of pain. He could finally escape the personal, solitary hell that he was trapped in here on earth.
His birthday, Christmas, and Father's day were each filled with dread and sadness. Losing him caused me to run away from what would remind me of him, including an entire half of my family for over a year (time that I will never get back), but I could never get away. Every time I look in the mirror, I see him looking back. Now, you must understand, I have never wanted to forget my Father, but at the time the pain was so great that I could only try and calm it by running away.
I would dream of him. Of him and I. And every time I would wake up, I would start grieving from step one, all over again.
Over time, I have healed, though I will never be whole again. Not how I was. Not how I would be if he had died when he was supposed to. I am better these days, but I still do hurt.
In just a matter of days, we will celebrate a holiday that is for father's and all that they are, do and mean to us. Before my Dad's passing, Father's day always used to be a fun day. One that we could seize together and have adventures. Now, it is a day of remembrance...and some tears. I often wonder if others who have lost their fathers in this way, far too soon, feel the same.
To all of my fellow sons out there who have the great fortune of being with their fathers this coming holiday, please do me a favor: Make the day special. Make it spectacular. Give your Dad a hug and tell him you love him. You never know just how special it is...until he is gone.
To my fellow sons whose fathers are no longer here. I am with you, and I feel your pain. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved. Your Father will always be with you.
Never forget it. Happy (almost) Father's Day.