When I heard of close friends or people I knew losing their father, every single time I thought to myself, “God, I don’t know what I would do if I lost my Dad.” It was something I knew would happen, but I never in my life thought it’d happen so soon.

I feel like that’s what most people say when it happens. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you’re probably agreeing with me right now. Like, of course you wouldn’t expect it and that’s why it’s so awful. But you don’t really understand how true that is until it happens to you. I used to think about the day that I found out my Dad left this Earth, and I would cry a lot, because my Dad was someone who I could ALWAYS depend on. It wasn’t just me that depended on him, it was the whole family. He’d say, “Well, what can I say? I’m a giver!” then laugh.

I guess it was so much of a shock because my Dad was never, EVER sick. It was actually extremely ironic, because I am always sick. He’d tell me, “It’s all in your mind, little girl. If you don’t let yourself believe you’re sick, you won’t be! Look at me, I’m never sick!” I was like, oookay Dad, that’s really not how it works but whatever you say! LOL.

Even though I was never really verbal about it, I was always so thankful for my Dad and what he did for me. See, my Dad never constantly reminded me what he did for me, or try to hang it over my head as leverage or for a “thank you” or any of that. He knew that actions spoke louder than words, and I think that is honestly why I live by that so strongly in my life. I may not be the most outgoing person, but I will do anything for the people I care for. And my friends know this. I always make sure that I am the responsible one around, and that if something happens I have extra money to take care of the problem, and I learned that from my Dad. He made me feel secure, and that if ANYthing were to happen, he would take care of it.

I was laying in my room, listening to Beyonce when my Mom came in. I took out one of my ear buds and she said, “Uh, hey so your Dad just had a heart attack. He’s going to the hospital, and Bubby (my brother, Richard) told me he would call me when he knows anything more.” I said, “Oh,” but in my head I was thinking, oh shit. I honestly wasn’t that worried though, because like I said before, Dad never got sick. My Pappaw had strokes before and he was 70-something years old, so Dad will be fine, right?

I walked around the apartment just waiting for Bubby to call me. It had been raining that day, and that’s why I was feeling particularly lazy and was chilling in bed. Mom was upstairs finishing whatever she was doing, then my phone rang. It was Bubby. I walked outside the front door and answered it.

“Hello?”

Then I heard my own brother scream in horror for the first time in my life.

“He didn’t make it!”

I collapsed to the wet ground, screamed with him, going into shock and disbelief. He was sobbing, and told me through tears and a weak, broken, and crackling tone, “Don’t worry about anything Keely, I love you so much and I am going to take care of everything just like Dad. Do you hear me? I will take care of everything.” I could barely focus on what he was saying. He told me he would come straight to me and we would go to Arkansas where he lived, or just go somewhere and figure it out. I said okay and hung up.

I crawled back into the apartment on my knees, and I screamed for mom, “He’s gone! He’s gone Mom!” She ran down saying, “What????? WHAT??? Oh no, no no no honey no, God no!”

I went back outside and sat down on the wet pavement, my back up against the door. I just sat there, quietly sobbing. My tears were falling like the rain from the sky. This isn’t real, this is not happening, I kept thinking to myself. I didn’t know what to do, what to think, what to say. My daddy was gone.

He always reminded me that he was so proud of me. All of his friends told me that Dad always bragged on me and Bubby to people he met. He was gone now. He won’t be there at my college graduation, he won’t see me as a doctor, he won’t meet my children, and my husband will never get to meet one of the most important people that shaped who I am today. My kids will never get to meet the best man I had ever known.

Within an hour of the news, I had stopped crying. My tear ducts weren’t working, and I physically couldn’t cry anymore. I thought something was wrong with me, but my brain physically wasn’t accepting the circumstances. I could NOT believe what was happening. My brain wouldn’t allow it. I went back to work two days later, and everyone was like, “Uh, why are you here?????!” I just couldn’t think about it. It wasn’t hitting me. I still had Dad’s cell number in my phone. Thought about calling him to ask him a question about my car. But I kept realizing I couldn’t.

It took about three weeks for it to set in. That’s when I cried, a lot. I couldn’t stop from crying. Even at the funeral, when I saw him lying there, to me and my brain, he was just asleep. He honestly looked like how he did when he was sleeping. I stood there with Bubby, we shook many hands. Most people I had never even met or heard of, but they had known Dad. “I’m sorry for your loss,” echoed in our direction countless times.

A few months later, I was moving into my first apartment on my own. To me it wasn’t that big of a deal, I was just really relieved. But I soon found out that Dad missing would affect me everyday subconsciously.

I began feeling anxious, and worried, sometimes afraid. I would look over my shoulder everywhere I went. I bought a few pocket knives and a taser. I had lost my security, the person who made me feel safe, and now I felt alone and afraid. I still had my brother, don’t get me wrong. He has always been the middle-man between me and my mom when we would argue. We have since then become closer, and he tries to take care of me anyway he can like Dad did.

The last time I saw him, he had come unannounced to my apartment where me and my Mom lived. It was like 9:30 am, so naturally I was asleep. But I woke up because I heard someone outside. It sounded just like Dad. Then what do you know, he calls me. I come outside, and I squint my eyes because it’s so sunny. It was a beautiful day. “Why ya squintin’ ya eyes for? It’s a pretty day, the suuun’s shinin! You gotta get up little girl!” He came by just for a little bit, and to remind me to never settle for dumb boys. I hugged him, and he left. That was the last time I saw him.

People kept saying, “It was his time to go,” and, “It’s all in God’s plan!” No, absolutely not. Don’t ever tell me that. It wasn’t “his time to go” when everyone, ESPECIALLY his children, needed him. How is it “meant to be” that I lose my dad at 18 years old? No. Don’t ever. That is literally the last thing I want to hear. You don’t get to say that, because you don’t know.

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There are so many things I wanted to ask you and tell you about, Dad. There are so many things I don’t know yet, things you hadn’t taught me. I never got to give you your last Father’s Day card I had already written out for you. I just wanted you to know that I appreciated everything you did for me, everything you sacrificed, and most importantly for putting me first. I looked up to you so much, and I compare every guy I meet to you and make sure they’re the least bit as caring, mature, and thoughtful as you. I will do like you told me, and never settle for less than what I deserve. I love you Dad, and I miss you every single day.

P.S. You were right. About a lot of things.

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