A few days ago marked the second anniversary of my father's passing. It still feels so surreal to me. Sometimes it feels like it couldn't possibly have been two years since the last time I heard my dad laugh, enjoyed his cooking and sat on the porch with him. Other times it feels like time has gone by so slowly and that two years has been more like twenty. They say time heals all wounds and in some ways it does. However, no amount of time will ever fill the void of losing my dad at a young age when I really needed him.
I remember the day I lost my father. I was supposed to go Geocaching with a friend and I was running late as usual. I was trying to finish my lunch when my phone rang. I assumed it was my friend calling to find out when I was coming. I never went on that Geocaching trip. Instead, I got a call that changed my life. My uncle told me my father had been in an accident on his four-wheeler and that he was unconscious but breathing. I fell apart. My dad had not been wearing a helmet. I called my cousin and asked him to drive me to Chattanooga as soon as possible. Because I had been told he was breathing, I wasn't as worried. People get knocked out all the time and recover just fine. My cousin, who is a police officer, warned me of what I may see and to not be freaked out if they had induced a coma to prevent further injury. When I arrived at the hospital and was met by the chaplain, I knew things were not good. No amount of prep time prepared me for what I walked into when I saw my dad hooked up to a life-support machine. I had just talked to him on the phone the day before. None of it felt possible.
I don't remember much of that night. I was so overwhelmed with emotion having to deal with the fact I wasn't even going to really say goodbye. I didn't know if he even had any brain activity left to know I was even there. Doctors were explaining the severity of his injuries to me. I wanted to hold on to hope so badly. "I'm sorry ma'am but your father has cracked his skull. Grey matter is leaking from his brain." I knew it. I knew his life was over. I, at that point as his closest of kin, had to take over all medical decisions such as organ donation, do not resuscitate and the final call to turn off life support. I was only 24 years old. I wasn't ready for this.
It felt like my whole world was crashing down around me at that hospital. A lot of my first initial thoughts I had I still have today. My dad won't see me graduate from college this May, he won't be the one to walk me down the aisle if I get married and he won't ever meet any of his potential future grandchildren. Moments in my life that should be celebrations always have a small twinge of pain because he's not able to be there and I can't call him. I thought I was going to have so much more time. There are so many things I wish I could go back and ask him.
I think about my dad every single day. I still have a full mailbox on my phone with voicemails from him. Most of them are just basic "call me back" messages but there are so many where he tells me he loves me. I live with my grief. It's like a gray cloud that tries to loom over me. Sometimes I have to allow myself to be sad. I do my best to shine brighter than my cloud and stay positive. I know my dad would be very proud of the person I have become. I miss him so much and I will always love him.
“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” - Helen Keller