I was 18 days shy of my 14th birthday when I lost my dad to cancer. My dad had always been my biggest supporter at every soccer game, my go-to math homework helper, and my personal chef. Watching him lose all those (and many more) abilities after 6 months of finding out he had stage four esophageal cancer was debilitating enough, but having him pass away completely traumatized me.
Of course, there are positive attributes to who I am today because of his death, but there were also some shocking things that happened that no one could have prepared me for.
1. I became depressed and anxiety ridden.
In 2011, I was a joyful 13-year-old who enjoyed going to school, always made new friends, and never worried about the little things in life. After his death, I became socially-deprived. I hated going to school. I hated the fact that I had to talk to people. And the thing I hated the most was talking about my life and how I felt. I became anxious around people; I always felt like they were judging me because of my horrendous past. Questions like, “How are you doing?” or, “Are you okay?” were the questions I never knew how to answer. I was not okay. My dad died.
2. I stopped trusting people.
No, his cancer diagnosis was not his fault, and neither was him dying, but you have a mutual father-daughter understanding. Traditionally, a father walks his daughter down the aisle. A father is there to defend you when your first love breaks your heart. How was I supposed to trust someone else when my own father isn’t there for me anymore?
3. Dying isn’t my biggest fear anymore.
I used to be terrified of passing away at a young age, but after watching my father pass away before he could even retire, my biggest fear became getting cancer. Watching the physical and emotional pain he dealt with every single day, I can’t blame him for passing away when the time was right. I feel as though I’d rather die than to have people watch me wither away to a person I won’t even recognize.
4. I hate asking for help.
“You never let anyone help you.”
That’s a famous quote I hear people telling me all the time. I don’t mean to be that way; I just became that way. I feel as though I’m super independent now, and I don’t need help. If my dad isn’t there to put the shutter back on the house after the huge rainstorm blew it off, then I take it on as my full responsibility to do it. No, I don’t need your help, thanks for the offer, but believe that I can handle things on my own.
5. I learned how much I hate special treatment.
If I failed a test that happened to fall on the date of my dad’s birthday, then it’s my fault for focusing on the significance of the date rather than studying for the test. Don’t tell me you feel bad and offer me a make-up test. I don’t need it. I am a human who does human-like things. Don’t pity me because you have something that I don’t have. Let me make my own mistakes and let me suffer the consequences that I deserve as a student, teenager, and human.
Although I know that everything people say and do are mainly out of good intentions, I still can’t accept them. I can’t learn to love special treatment or help, because I don’t need it. What I need is my dad back, and since no one can provide that wish, then please just treat me like a “normal” human being.