When I was 7 years old, I was riding my bike down the driveway of our beautiful ranch home in York, South Carolina. You were sitting on the front porch watching me, one hand on swing and the other holding your coffee mug, by the base of the cup…not the handle. As a little girl, I don't know why that drove me crazy and I always corrected you for doing such a thing. You were watching me and eyeing the road to make sure there were no cars coming. I was showing off. (of course) I was pretending to fall off and would scream as I caught myself. I thought I was the coolest. Well I kept doing my own thing and there was a rock. I didn't see it and what once was a fake scream turned into a petrified cry. Well I fell and I fell hard. You ran over, picked me up and sat me on the bathroom counter top. You encouraged me that I would survive this fall. With a simple kiss and a large band-aide, you healed the hurt.
When I went to go feed my turtles, which I forgot to do every so often, I found my good turtle friend "Freckles" dead. In the tank dead. Poor guy. I thought my life was over. You see there's a huge difference in physical pain and a loss pain. At the time, I couldn't tell you the difference but I knew a "loss" hurt a lot worse. I cried hard. I was so hurt, but with a simple hug and kiss, your encouraging words, and a mini memorial service, you healed the hurt. You taught me that you will never get over some losses but you always heal. You taught me bravery while I rode a bike without training wheels for the first time. It was Easter and My family was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Even though I ran straight into a huge white truck (which was thankfully parked) I learned from that experience, which Is when you taught me to lead by example and that you should choose kindness over anything. You showed me love through the way you loved your family and your love for traveling. You taught me so much in just eight years of knowing you.
Here I am, 13 years later. I realize that you never do get over some losses. It really makes sense now. It's hard to heal without the person that always seemed to heal the hurt. But I am trying. I can tell you time does not heal. I have days where I can think of you and laugh at your wonderful memories. Some days I think of you and all I can do is cry. I've learned crying is okay. I always like to talk to you when I'm crying. It's weird. It's like you are looking down on me and see me cry and you just appear without appearing.
Sometimes I'll smell your cologne while walking through Target. Sometimes I hear your voice in old country or Elton John songs. Sometimes I can imagine you sitting across from me while I'm studying in my favorite coffee shop. I'll imagine me typing out an essay, look up and see your face there, sipping your favorite dark roast, looking up at me. I imagine you a lot and think about you even more. I recently found a traveling pass of yours in a memory box. Just reminded me how much you loved to travel. Your gone but you still inspire me every day with memories that you left behind. I travel to the mountains a lot and picture you are sitting right next to me in the passenger seat. I recently took a solo hike in Linville, North Carolina to the top. It was beautiful. I sat at the top of this mountain, the most amazing feeling ever. I was so emotional. I don't know if I was crying because it was so beautiful, or because I felt a little closer to heaven, or maybe because you were really with me the whole time. I was at the top of this mountain with you, experiencing the real definition of life. In that moment, you taught me something new. It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves and it was a wonderful feeling, I'll tell you that.
Miss you everyday, Dad. Thank you for watching over me. Until we meet again.
Your Katy Bird