It’s the eve of the day that I hate.
I dread the arrival of this day every year. August 3. The day my dad died.
This year will mark 22 years since that day that derailed my life. Everything changed that day. And the people who know me as an optimist, as someone who believes that you can choose to be happy, choose (for the most part) to have a good day or a bad day, choose to be positive or negative, will perhaps wonder why I don’t practice what I preach when August 3 comes along.
You know what? I realize that I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for the sudden and tragic loss of my father, when he was only 43 and I only 17 years old. I know that I am blessed. I appreciate where I am now; that I am able to help other teenagers who are facing an unfathomable loss (all losses are). I recognize how much more cognizant I am of special moments, special people and the ways my children offer an oh-so-welcome connection to my dad (I wrote about that and it was featured in Thrive in Life magazine). It’s not that I’m not grateful. I am, and very much so.
But guess what? Despite all that positivity, it sucks. It hurts. There are still days when I want to scream about it, cry about it, and when the depth of the loss of him – the moments never experienced, the talks never to happen, the relationships never begun or unfulfilled – is nothing short of overwhelming. And on the days that it “seems” okay, the days that are positive and full of joy and success, full of work and people I love, those days are still sorely missing a vital piece of who I was…of who I am.
I wasn’t the only one who was changed that day. I recognize how it changed the course of the lives of many other people: my mom, my grandparents (his parents), my uncle (his brother) and his wife (at the time), my cousins near and far, and some of my friends. And, certainly now, so many years later, my husband and my children, who all have to witness my emotion, my heartbreak and my references to someone they never knew; someone who must be like a distant character they have to try to imagine and can see only in photographs, without feeling any true connection.
I appreciate that I have been able to build a happy life; that my life is filled with so many blessings. I truly do.
But I miss him. I ache for him. Everyday. And August 3 is just the marker of how long I have lived this way; of how long he has been gone from me; of the memories, good and bad; of the memories that will never be.
How could I not be sad, emotional, and perhaps a bit distant? August 3 is the day I was uprooted and left to spin in a twister, trying desperately to find solid ground. It’s the day it all changed. Not one single thing. Everything.