Monday, May 14, 2012

For My Dad

It's been 2 years to the date. Two years since I got that dreadful call. I remember that afternoon, like it was yesterday. 

It was May 15th 2010. Scott was on his way home from a work trip and I made plans to meet our future dog for the first time. I fell in love and stayed for over two hours, playing with a dog that would soon be ours. When I left, I called Scott and begged him to visit the dog when he got home. He sensed the excitement in my voice and although he was tired from his drive, he went anyway. When leaving that cute 7 month old pup for the second time that day, we walked outside and saw the most beautiful rainbow bursting through the gray sky. I was excited about our conversations to adopt a dog and the moment I saw the rainbow, I had a feeling that it was meant to be. I would soon find out that rainbow had a little different meaning, than I first expected.

The rainbow - I snapped this photo with my phone that day. 

After jumping in our rain covered car, we drove to a store named Jax so Scott could look at supplies for our old camper. While I was distracted and strolling the aisles, my phone rang. It was my sister, telling me she just got a phone call that our dad was on his way to the hospital. They thought he had a heart attack. My first reaction went something like this, "He will be okay, call me when you get to the hospital and let me know. I am sure it's something minor." I called my brother to tell him the news and he said he was on his way to the hospital. I had no idea the severity of it. Scott says he knew - he had a gut feeling it was bad. 

We left the store empty handed and I got in the drivers seat. We were home-bound at this point, but not quite on the interstate. My phone rang again. This time it was my dear cousin, Michele. I picked up and she was crying, crying hard, saying she was sorry. I said, "Wait, what's wrong?" She said, "Didn't anyone call you?" She could barely say the words, but I already knew. I swerved off to the side of the road and clenched the steering wheel, not remembering if I even said goodbye when I hung-up.

My dad, died before he even made it in the ambulance. He was at his girlfriends place. He hadn't been feeling well for a few days, but wanted to ride out the weekend, before going to the doctor. She was in the other room, when she heard him gasp. That was his last breath. 

The 1500 mile plane ride and days that followed were long and hard. 

His time of death, was almost the exact time we walked outside and saw that bright colored rainbow. The way I see it, that was him. My dad telling me, he was okay and in a better place.

To my dad:

Since that day, I take the month of May as a time to reflect. Reflect on the years I had growing up and the memories we had together. I try to forget the bad and remember the good. I reflect on the woman I am today and the all of the qualities I got from you. My stubbornness, my temper (short fuse, as Scott would say), my honesty, my hands, my big forehead, the dark circles under my eyes, and my loud mouth.

Sometimes I'm angry. Angry you left too soon. Angry for the bad years we had. Angry I didn't get to say goodbye. Sometimes I'm sad. Sad you won't be with me on my wedding day. Sad you didn't get to know my future husband. Sad you will never meet your grandchildren. But most days, I'm thankful. Thankful for having you as long as I did. Thankful for the lessons you taught me in the 24 years that you were with me. Thankful I have a guardian angel. Thankful my last words to you were, "I love you." 

You are with me always - When I am painting my toenails outside and a butterfly suddenly lands on the plants right beside me. When I am walking through the grocery store and notice the pile of bright green granny smith apples waiting to be eaten. When I am driving in the car and a guns and roses song comes on the radio and I find myself singing at the top of my lungs. Every time I go back to Pennsylvania and have a beer with my brothers and sisters, I am reminded how much we are all like you. Every time my iPod is on shuffle and "every rose has its thorn" begins to play. When I am sitting outside on a cool day and lemon water is the only thing that will quench my thirst. When I'm at a picnic and red beets are on the menu. Every time I force Scott to play Yahtzee with me when we are camping. When I am in Las Vegas (or any gambling town) and pass by the blackjack tables. When it rains and a colorful rainbow greets us after the storm. Every night when I go to bed and see the picture of us from my high school graduation on my nightstand, and your big brown eyes starring right back at me.

On my graduation - May 2004.

In reading a favorite blog of mine yesterday, I came across a quote written by a woman who lost her sister, mother and daughter in a three year period. What she said is exactly how i have been feeling, I could just never put it into words.

"Throughout my journey I’ve discovered the gift of grief, the awareness it brings and a gratitude for life. Challenges create growth and strength and are fuel for the soul….the human spirit can survive anything….. Today, I’m grateful for my memories that are trapped like the snow in a snow globe…sometimes shaken up, sometimes bittersweet, however there to remind me to never to take a day we are gifted with for granted."

The day you left, I understood and felt the meaning of grief. I still feel it to this day, it never goes away. But I understand now, the "gift of grief" she refers too, and the better person I am today because of it. 

One this day one year ago, I made it tradition to buy balloons, write on them all of the things you missed that year and let them go into the pretty blue sky. I will be standing true to that tradition and toasting the day with a Coors Light in your honor. 

Chip Chip Cherrio Mate. 

I love you dad. Always have, always will.

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