|Me and my Daddy|
On October 23rd, at approximately 8:30am, my life changed. At 10:49pm, it changed again.
A girl identifies herself differently at different points in her life. A dancer, an athlete, a brainiac, a gymnast, an actress, an honor student, a girlfriend, a college student, a business woman, a wife, a mother.... the list is infinite. But from the very moment we come into this world, we are all one thing - a daughter. To someone, somewhere, present or not, traditional or not, we are daughters. And in the backs of our minds, we always define ourselves, in part, as Mommy and/or Daddy's Little Girl. On October 23rd, at approximately 8:30am, while I was in a car on my way to see him... I ceased to be Daddy's Little Girl, because my Daddy left this world for a better one.
It's been a rough couple of years for my family. In 2013, My Mom's brother, my Uncle George, was diagnosed with throat cancer. Then, my Dad's sister, my Aunt Kathleen, was diagnosed with leukemia. And the final blow of the year was my Dad being diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor. They all underwent treatment. Some more aggressive than others. But they all refused to go silently into that good night. We all had high hopes that 2014 would be a year to slay the dragon that is Cancer.
Aunt Kathleen fought like the tiger she was. From the moment she was diagnosed, she made appointments and phone calls and did research. She went to the best hospital available to her - even though it was an almost 2 hour drive from her house. But in the end, her body gave out on her, and she left us on June 5th.
My Uncle Georgie stopped his treatment in pretty short order. It destroyed his quality of life, and the payoff was maybe an extra year. He decided it wasn't worth it. We can only assume he was right. He made it about a year past the end of his treatment before he left us, at complete peace with the end of his life, which came on October 11th.
Both of those losses were hard. I loved my Aunt and Uncle to the ends of the Earth and back again. I think about them all the time, and know that they are both looking over us. I know that they are both healthy and whole and happy. That they are with our amazing loved ones who have gone before them. That my Grandparents were likely waiting for them with open arms. That they are with God. And, although all of that is a comfort, being left on this Earth without them is still hard. But, really, I had no idea...
I got a phone call on Wednesday morning, October 22nd. We were at my daughter's riding lesson. I saw the caller ID, and my heart dropped. It had been several weeks since I'd directly spoken to my Dad. I knew what the phone call was. I briefly thought of ignoring it, but, of course, ignoring something doesn't make it go away. Oh, how I wish it did! I would have ignored it forever. I was told that my Dad was failing. That if I wanted to say goodbye, I should get my butt to New Jersey. That I shouldn't wait. Even until tomorrow. So, I made phone calls. I called my stepmother, who said Dad was best in the mornings, and why don't I come around 9am? I made arrangements... my husband left work early, took Thursday off, I packed, accepted my Aunt's offer to spend the night with her, gassed up, and off I went. It's a 3 and a half hour drive from my house to my Aunt's. Longest three hours of my life.
We woke early, my Aunt and I. It was an hour drive to my Dad's from her house. I showered and dressed up a little. I even put on makeup. I wanted to look nice for my Daddy. We stopped for breakfast. Half way to his house, we got the phone call that we were too late. Or he was too early. But either way, God had called him home.
The rest of the day is already a little hazy. I'm not sure how I made the 3.5 hour drive back home that afternoon. There were tears, certainly, but I didn't really loose it until I was home, the kids were in bed, and I was alone in the dark with my husband. Then, I sobbed like a little kid. Like the Daddy's Little Girl I no longer was. And then I got the text. It was 11:10pm.
One of my best friend's daughter's... she was 8 days overdue with a son. They decided to induce her that morning. And Colton arrived an hour before midnight... the moment my life changed again.
Thursday, October 23rd started with one of the most significant men in my life leaving this world... and it ended with a new man coming into it. It's only right, I suppose. If God was going to take my Daddy that day, that He give me a reminder of life's miracles. That, against all my thoughts to the contrary, life goes on. That happiness is still possible. That it's ok to smile... and even to laugh. And that this hole in my heart and in my life won't ever go away... but I will learn to go on in spite if it. In some ways, because of it. Because I know that my Dad would want those of us he left behind to find our happiness again.
I love you, Daddy...
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.