What It's Like Losing a Parent
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What It's Like Losing a Parent

Even heroes don't live forever.

What It's Like Losing a Parent

As kids, our ignorance is the source to all of our bliss whether we believed that the outside world was truly a perfect place or that eating a watermelon seed would actually cause the fruit to grow inside of us. The hardest-hitting reality I think we are forced to accept, once we are old enough to understand, is our own parent's mortality. We had this perfect idea that they're secretly superheroes of sorts (and don't get me wrong, they are in their own way), but they are still humans at the end of the day. Two years ago I had to experience this reality first-hand.

It was the Fall of 2013 when I was a high school senior with a driver's license, new car and an undying enthusiasm to graduate. Life was good until my world was shattered after receiving the news my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal caner that had metastasized to his lungs and stomach. He took the Chemotherapy route that would extend his prognosis to a year and a half compared to the six months if he decided against the medicine. The outlook was bleak, and my family and I were devastated.

Still, I wanted to remain positive. I kept myself busy. I spent time with my father, asking questions related/unrelated to his disease. I prayed more despite my loose adherence to the Catholic religion. Much like everyone else that knew my dad, I was hoping for a miracle of remission.

Unfortunately, that miracle never occurred. By November 2014, the effects of the cancer and the chemo had begun to show. By the end of January, he was the most physically weak I had ever seen him in the past 18 months. In the early morning hours of Sunday, February 8th, 2015, a father, brother, son, grandson, cousin and a friend was lost.

That day sticks out in my mind as clear as day. I recall it being unseasonably warm for February, and yet, I had never felt quite so numb. The week prior had to be the hardest as that's when I was most emotional, knowing that he was dying, and I was left to think long-term about the future. How I would never have him walk me down the aisle at my wedding, how he would never attend me or my brother's college graduation or meet his grandchildren.

My first instant feeling was guilt. I was not there when he had passed away, and I was unable to say the things I wanted or give a heartfelt goodbye. The feeling of regret stings twice as hard knowing you will never get another chance.

The weeks following were just odd and unfamiliar. The numbness continued until I heard a song or a saw a picture that reminded me of him. If I was ever alone, my mind would begin to wander, reality would hit and I tried convincing myself it was just a really long bad dream. I couldn't shake the thought of the man who helped raised me and brother and whose very flesh and blood make up our beings is gone. I had to adjust to not going out to dinner with him on Tuesday nights or riding in his truck with him asking about my day or telling me about the music playing on the radio.

There would be significant and happy times I wanted to shout to the heavens about and, more importantly, wanted to call up and share with my dad until I realized I couldn't do it. He was one of the few people in my life who understood very intricate details about who I was. It pains me that I couldn't even hear a "hey Riss" anymore.

Holidays became strange, especially Father's Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving when a lot of the emotions would surface. It's like you go to share the joy of Christmas morning with them or maybe your deceased parent was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner and you enjoyed watching them work in the kitchen--now you can't.

It's little things you miss the most, though. The familiarity of them--their laugh, their smile, their corny jokes, their scent. Everything. It will always stick with you in the back of your mind, though.

I wanted to think that God was playing a cruel joke on me and everyone else this had affected, or maybe the universe just had it out for us. It just didn't seem fair.

It seems in situations like these, we always want to blame someone or something out of anger or feelings of being wronged. Death is just a side-effect of life. When a parent is taken away from us, it feels like half of our world is gone, but we have to accept that even heroes don't last, but they will never be forgotten. In the end, you never really "get over it," you just accept it and adjust.

As cliché as it may sound, a loved one who has passed on is very much looking after you whether it be in heaven or some other divine place of paradise. Their love for you is undying. They leave little clues daily in things we may not notice. I had a job interview I thought I was going to be late for when I left my house. As I was driving, every single stop light I hit instantly turned green as I was approaching it, and I made it on time. I like to believe that was my father helping me out.

I'm still very blessed to have a mother and a stepfather, though. I guess the take-home message for all of this is to cherish your parents, your family, your friends and all those near and dear to your heart. Like John Mayer says, say what you need to say. Even if some of them may no longer roam this Earth, take comfort in knowing they are still watching over you. It's just from a place all of us still here have yet to be.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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