The day it happens you are in shock. You almost can not fathom the words that you have just heard. The world is in slow motion as your heart strings are severed one by one until you can finally catch your breath enough to cry. My Dad was killed in a car accident, it was his fault and no one else was hurt. I did not feel guilt like I would have if someone else had gotten hurt. If you were in my shoes, it was my first day of middle school.
I always knew that middle schoolers were supposed to be “more mature” than elementary school kids but I didn’t think that I had to take this much of a leap. My Dad always told me, “I never want to be an old man, old men are sad, they have to have assistance to for everything, eating, drinking, etc, all of the personal stuff.” I was eleven years old and he had just turned forty. I thought, “at least he was old”. The older I get, the younger he feels.
I found that sometimes, you have to be strong for someone else. There were certain milestones that my Dad has missed out on including; senior prom, high school graduation, my first heartbreak, my first love, college graduation, meeting the man I plan to marry. As much as these milestones hurt, I always felt like I had to be strong for someone else. I have a younger sister, and I always felt like I needed to be stable role model. I didn’t want her to see someone cry everyday when there was so much more to live for.
I went to graduate school to be a therapist, because it was natural. I have had friends who have lost their parents throughout the years, the most significant though, is a great friend/co-worker whose Dad passed away suddenly, just like mind had. She called me that night and even though all of the emotions started rushing back, I wanted to be strong for her. I remember holding back my tears acting like I just did not have anything to say to her. In reality, my heart was broken in a million little pieces because I actually knew everything that she was feeling and I would never wish that on my worst enemy.
Every time I go to a wedding, it is almost like a modern day torture chamber, except I am trapped in a beautiful room with a beautiful bride and her father. I realize that this imagery pails in comparison to the tragedies of the world but hopefully the readers can understand.
My friend that I wrote about earlier, plans to get married in April. I think about how much it hurts after 15 years, I can’t imagine having to deal with this 6 months after losing her own father. I know that I will have to be with her on her wedding day to keep her spirits high. I already promised to do her hair, I’ll probably bring some champagne too.
The more I learn about loss, the more I want to be there for others, the more I am able to be strong for someone else. My friend, who I mentioned earlier in this narrative, has survived 6 months without her father. 6 months feels like an eternity to her. It has been six months since she has been able to talk to her dad, touch him, listen to him, and feel his love. Six months is a long time but I plan on being there for her until she experiences six years, or more.
I learned that I have to be strong not only for myself, but for my sister, my mother, and my friend. Being truly available for a family member or friend is more important than being “there if you need them”. I cannot speak for everyone in my shoes, but through my own tragedy, I have learned to be strong for everyone else.