Ten years. To some that’s a lifetime. For others it’s simply another decade in the book of life. For me, it’s how long it has been since I lost my dad. For some, dads are the “good cop,” the one that teaches you how to change your oil or the one you go to when mom says “no.”
For me, my dad was everything. He was my confidant, my twin soul, and the one whose unwavering love and support gave me the courage to be anything I wanted to be. And suddenly, he was gone in an instant due to a motorcycle accident that took his life in the blink of an eye.
All at once I found my world completely upside down. At the time, I was only 11-years-old. The fact that it has been a decade since he’s been gone really resonates with me as the anniversary of his death approaches. I’ve pretty much gone half of my life without my dad and all I can think is, “Where has the time gone?”
So many holidays, birthdays and special events without him…and I’m still here. I survived. At times, I think back on the past decade and feel like a warrior.
I’ve overcome this heinous, life-altering situation. I can still laugh.
I can still love. I can still appreciate the good days and take the bad
ones as they come. I can live on.
With that said, I understand now too, that there will never be a day when I don’t miss my dad. Half of me (my dad) is out of my sight forever. However, slowly but surely over these past ten years, I’ve started to fill the hole in my heart…a hole that was once gaping and had me reaching into the depths of my soul to survive. Yet despite the hardship, now all I think about is how lucky I am.
I think about how lucky I am to be able to seize the opportunities offered to me each and every day, and I know without a doubt my dad would be beyond proud of me for doing so. Through the strength and confidence he and my mom instilled in me, I’m a survivor.
No matter what happens, no one can take away the strength I’ve
obtained through these past ten years of grieving and that is empowering.
It’s empowering to know that despite whatever happens in life, good or bad —
I can appreciate everything.
I can remember and appreciate the memory of climbing a mountain with my dad and relish in the fact we accomplished that together. Yet, I can also go kayaking in Maine with my mom and brother, feeling happy and appreciative to “be” in that very moment.
If early on in my grief someone would’ve explained the ability for us all to miss someone that’s died while still really loving life — I would’ve told them it’s impossible!
Yet, here I am…at peace with the loss of my father and while also enjoying all that life has to offer in the here and now. What made the difference for me? Stillness. Mindfulness. And the fact that I know for sure, my dad’s spirit is with me every single day.
When the sky is so blue with not a cloud in sight (a perfect day for flying his bright red bi-plane) I can just stop, breathe and feel my dad smiling down on me.
I also feel my dad’s humorous spirit with me from time to time. He was a great practical joker, so it would be just like him to have the resident bird outside our family business take a big dump on MY car on Father’s Day! Thanks for the message, Dad. I’m paying attention.
All in all I feel so fortunate…fortunate to know such sorrow and to now be able to appreciate everything fully. The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this past decade is that “it’s okay.”
It’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to be sad.
It’s okay to feel so incredibly helpless that you don’t know what to do.
But most of all, it’s okay to move forward.
It’s okay to live on.
Move forward and enjoy your holidays, celebrate the birthdays and commemorate the special events. Experience the joys of life because there are so many. After all isn’t that what your loved one would want you to do? I know my dad would want me to and you know what? After all of this, I deserve to and so do you.
By: Haley Thalheimer
Student Contributor of University of North Florida