August 15, 2011 around three or four in the morning was the first time I experienced a heartbreak that would never truly be mended. It was the first day of freshman year (high school). I did not have the fairytale first day of high school, or the excitement a student feels the night before. Instead, my family and I spent hours in the hospital (August 14th), praying that you would be okay. Everything happened so suddenly and without warning. It makes me think, were you ever in pain and just did not tell anyone? Even at your 60th birthday party a couple days before, you seemed perfectly fine. Actually, you seemed better than ever, which is why it is still so hard to even fathom the fact that you are gone. It has been five years and it still feels unreal. Maybe it feels this way because it has actually taken me five years to speak out about your passing. I have never spoken about how mad I was at myself for paying no attention to you the very last time I saw you alive, the last time you talked to me. You walked in, gave me a huge hug from behind (you had to steal the hug because I was being a brat) and told me thank you for your birthday party, and then you told me you loved me. Not once, in that moment, did I turn and look at you, not once did I tell you how much I loved you, not once did I realize that that may have been the last time I would get the chance to do so. And it was. When you passed is when I learned to never take any moment with the ones you love for granted. If I could take that moment back and give you all the love and attention I possibly could, I would.
I have also never spoken about how bad it hurts to even be on “The Hill” without you. Many times I don't even want to go because nothing has been the same since the day you left: family get-togethers, holidays, the land, etc. Also, I have come to accept that no one can make chili better than you could.
I have never spoken about why I am so excessive over my grades and determined about my future. I remember the day we were at a graduation and the valedictorian was giving her speech, you leaned and whispered in my ear, “that’s gonna be you in a few years.” You smiled with great confidence, as I looked up to you at ten years old and replied, “It sure will.” I want to think about you giving me that same smile, as I give my speech the day I graduate college.
I have never spoken about how I wish you could physically be a part of my growth and relationships. I cry when I think about the fact my future husband and children will never get to know how amazing of a family man you were. You cared, you provided, and you protected.
Thank you for being willing to do anything and everything for your children and grandchildren, always making sure we were taken care of. The moment your casket closed, was the first moment I experienced what heartbreak felt like. It broke my heart knowing I would never be able to see your face or be able to hear you call me “DahDah” again (your own personal nickname for me). At that moment, it hit me that it was truly over and there was nothing I could do about it. The only thing I can do now is make you proud, just as if you were here in a physical form, working to my fullest potential and keeping the family together once I get in the position to. What you cared about most was the family being united, and your grandchildren are here to keep your love and interest in mind.
The love and respect your grandchildren had/have for you is unmatched. Through us - Andrew, Dede, Anna, Trey, Destiny, and Merra - you will always live on. Even if we are the only ones that care enough to keep your name alive, you will never be forgotten.