1 Year Later…

Look – eventually –
We’re all going to have to leave
But slow down, stay a while
Let’s not force it

–Levi the Poet, “It’s All Worth Living For”

January 11, 2017 is a day that will forever stick with me and my family. That’s the day that I heard the words, “daddy’s dead” from my mother while standing in the middle of our kitchen, after she came home from what was supposed to be her night shift day. I remember being super confused as to why I heard her car pull into the garage that early…it was only about 6pm (she usually gets home around 9:30pm on her night shift days). I was in the kitchen doing my math homework (for once), and I remember knowing immediately that something was wrong the moment she Processed with VSCO with p5 presetstarted talking. I still never expected the news that followed after. I remember immediately breaking down into her arms after she told me, and the first words I said were “he’s not going to see me graduate”. Which broke me to pieces, since he was so proud of all of my accomplishments and was always messaging me about my grades. As soon as I got my courage up and my emotions at bay, I asked the dreaded question: what happened? I had thought to myself that it would be a heart attack or a truck accident, since he had 2 previous heart attacks and was a semi truck driver. Nothing prepared me for the answer– suicide. What??? He took his own life? He never showed any clear signs that he was struggling with his will to live, so it took me by so much surprise. I didn’t believe it. I cried and cried in my mom’s arms, in the middle of our kitchen, because it just reminded me just how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away. I think the hardest part of that day was having to sit down with my  mom and brother and tell my youngest siblings that our dad was no longer with us. How does one even tell a then 10 and 11 year old that they’re never going to see their daddy again? That moment will forever stick in my mind.

Processed with VSCO with p5 presetAnother moment that I can’t even describe in words how I felt was at his funeral seeing him for the first time…and hearing the Marine play ‘Taps’ for him, and the folding of the flag. ‘Taps’ sounds so much different when you know that it’s being played for someone you love. It immediately brings tears to my eyes now. One thing that comforted me when I saw him was that he looked the same as he did when he was alive. It was still him.

Oh has my dad missed so much in the past year. It goes by so fast, I tell you. It’s really weird to think that he has been gone for a whole year already. So so much has happened that I wish he could have experienced. Both good times and bad times, but mostly good. The highlights include:

  • Zachary turned 12
  • I did the Polar Plunge
  • I decided on Grace College over Ball State (a choice I think he would have been thrilled about)
  • We started going to Erin’s House for Grieving Children
  • I visited Grace for the first time
  • Zachary went to FL for the first time
  • Nathan, mom, and I painted my room yellow (successfully!!)
  • Emily turned 11
  • Ethan took me to our senior prom
  • We set balloons off for his birthday
  • I got High Honor Roll (both semesters!)
  • I got my senior pictures taken
  • I graduated high school and had my grad party
  • We went to the pool a lot
  • We went to Cedar Point for the first time without him
  • Nathan and I both got our learner’s permits
  • I turned 18
  • Nathan made dad’s BBQ chicken legs for us (the first time we’ve ever attempted it) and they tasted just like his
  • We all got bracelets for him
  • I’ve seen a whole lot of pretty sunsets and sunrises–I miss his texts telling me about them
  • Zachary started junior high
  • I moved into college
  • Nathan turned 17
  • Nathan got a job
  • Emily joined choir
  • Emily got honor roll
  • We made it through our first Christmas without him
  • We rang in 2018– a year he’ll never know
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PC: Melissa Rangel

The quote I included at the beginning of this post is from Levi the Poet’s poem “It’s All Worth Living For” and that stuck out to me because it tells us to slow down and to enjoy life, and to stay around. Not to rush it or force it. Another quote that stuck out to me from Levi’s poem is:

Please stay
Find what you were made for
I just had the most godawful cup of coffee
I’ve ever had in my life
You’ve got to try it
It’s all worth living for
It tastes like a morning liturgy
And my great-grandfather’s high fives
Don’t forget that there are voices on the outside of your head, too
And they sound like futures

This quote sticks out to me for a few reasons, but mainly because he is pleading with us to stay, to find what we were made for, to find something in life to focus on and live for, and to not forget about those around us who care. It was TWLOHA’s theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention day, which I bought a shirt that says “Stay. Find what you were UCTO9090.jpgmade for.” on it, and I never realized until the sixth or seventh time I listened to “It’s All Worth Living For” by Levi that it was from that, and it clicked for me. It means so much to me because we all have a purpose and we are all meant to be here, even when we don’t see it. Small things such as a cat rubbing up against your leg and quiet mornings are worth living for, and big things such as graduations and weddings and moving away to college are worth living for, as well as everything in between. Everything is worth living for, even bad cups of coffee and arguments with forgiveness after the sun goes down. It’s all worth living for. Remember, “it’s a bad day, not a bad life.”

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I miss him more than I would have imagined I could.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Some days are harder than others, filled with a heavy heart, and some days are easier, filled with laughs and good memories.

It is so hard to believe that it’s already been a year since that day, but all we can do is keep on moving forward from here.

S. L.

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