My father’s death was sudden and hit me like a bus driving 100 miles per hour on the wrong side of the road. I was not prepared for loss. I had never been exposed to any feeling as strong as the ones that are felt with the loss of a parent. When it happened to me I hardened inside. Some would say I died as well. Not only was my body physically numb but my heart could only feel pain.
In that exact moment, my only truth was that I had lost my closest ally and the only man who would ever love me unconditionally without expectation of receiving anything in return. My entire life was spent being daddy’s girl. I was showered with love, each and every day. When my father was speaking to others about me, his voice would crackle. He thought that I was unbelievable and he made sure that everyone knew it. Yet I felt I never deserved his praise. What I saw was different. A lazy girl trapped inside a woman’s body. I was afraid of change. I was afraid of life. How could a world so big be accepting of an insecure, unaccomplished woman like me?
It had been years (well decades) since I had challenged myself in life. I was comfortable. With that comfort I found myself unwilling to do anything that was outside of the norm of going to work and seeing the same people day in and day out. I had no vision for life. I forgot that I once had dreams of going to college, or moving cross-country or simply having a job that challenged me. Self-doubt crippled me physically and emotionally. That big world outside scared the crap out of me.
After months and quite possibly a few years I began to see glimpses of sunshine and other small reminders that life still existed. My dreams (my real dreams) had become vivid and every time I went to bed I woke up with a smile. In my deep sleep, my father would come to me. He would carry a suitcase and he would always tell me that he was fine and he was ready to go. He would smile that million-dollar smile at me and assure me not to worry. He would tell me he was happy and that one day I would be too.
When I was sleeping I was happy! There must have been a way to harness this feeling and bring it into the day!
With the loss of my father came the realization that I while I was breathing, I was not living! My life was still, lifeless. Surely, if I had continued on this path I would have settled into many years of depression. But how was I, a woman who was happy on the outside going to pull out of the darkest depression I was facing?
Truth be told the night brought clarity to my days. The strong emotions that were felt by seeing my father acted as a catalyst for positive change. I was going to have to bite the bullet and try at life. I applied to the local community college and eventually obtained enough credits to transfer to a local state school. I picked up running and yoga. I began to volunteer within the community. I forced myself to continue to try at life and with every attempt I slowly began to rebuild my self-confidence. What I started to see were small glimpses of the old me, the person that my father always saw.
Eventually, I began to connect with the vision that I had of myself in high school or even my early twenties. That vision has brought me cross-country as well as into one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. I became a three-time college drop out that got accepted into the University of Southern California to get her Masters. I was living beyond my comfort zone and it felt incredible!
It was my father’s death that brought me back to life. What a scary feeling to recognize! I would do anything to hold my father’s hand, or hear his laugh or to see his smile when he looked at me but I can never have that again. Instead what I have, his final gift that he left with me, is life. In the end, it was his final breath that brought life back to mine. The first time when he held me and did not want to let his precious daughter go and the second time in my sleep.
Undoubtedly, it is my father’s passion and strength that drives me forward and pushes me towards new challenges everyday. While he may not be here walking with me, I know he is always beside me watching me, smiling and filled with pride.
If this story resonates with you please share your story with me! I would be honored to know more about you.
I have enclosed another piece written by Nancy Stordahl that offers great advice on How to cope with the Death of a parent.
This piece was recently featured in TheChangBlog to read more click the link below.
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*** Small tidbits of so much more that is to come.