… William Cullen Bryant "Thanatopsis"
There is a date that looms quite largely in my life each year. Its not my birthday. Its January 29. Its looming now… I keep noticing it on my calendars, trying to schedule it away. But I can't.
On Friday it will be 16 years since I lost my father. So that means that Thursday night marks the anniversary of Plano beating Plano East in triple overtime in Basketball. And I suppose 16 years since the Cowboys were in the Superbowl… cause I am pretty sure they won the superbowl that weekend.
You'd think after 16 years that the date wouldn't mean so much. That it wouldn't jump off my calendar. But it does. I have it marked on my calendar "Dad Anniversary"… which is strange cause I find that I'll never forget that date. So why the hell do I write on the calendar every year?
I was sixteen years old and spending the night at my friend Jordan's house when he died. Each year about this time I am humbled by the experience that she went through. She lost my dad that day too. She lost her friend – saw me change in the course of a few minutes, hours, day… She sat next to me on a couch for hours while I simply stared at electrical socket because I couldn't come up with any words. And she never left my side. Through the people and the planning and the family and the funeral and trying to go back to my junior year of high school – through all that Jordan never left my side. How does someone know how to be that kind of friend at 16 years old?
And you know what? 16 years later, she still hasn't left my side. She's here in Houston. And in the 16 years since my dad's death – we have never missed an important moment in each other's lives – graduations, marriages, family weddings, Charlie's birth, and his new journey with Type 1 diabetes. Through every experience, I know that I'll share it with her. Its a closeness that goes beyond normal friendship. She was with me in my darkest time. She stuck with me, praying that I would see my way to the other side. I didn't believe I could – but she did.
Quite simply, I keeping asking myself the same question … how does someone know how to be that kind of friend at 16?
After my dad died, I didn't cry for a long time. I mean, I'd tear up a little bit. But I didn't really, truly cry. And Jordan kept waiting for my fit. For my Sally Field "Steel Magnolias" style fit. And when it finally came, about a year later – she was there. And she was so relieved.
I have a number of friends that our bound exists almost entirely from the shared experience of losing a parent at a young age. I have a number of friends that saw me through the periods of loss right after my dad died - I wouldn't trade those friendships for anything. Each of you reading this know who you are and I am blessed to know you.
I miss my father very much – everything is so different and our family dynamic is so changed – but I know that I am the woman I am today because of the short time I had him in my life. Sometimes, though, it still feels like every action is a reaction from losing him. Even so long ago.
So I wonder, and offer this up to the cosmic void… does a girl, really ever get over the loss of her daddy? No matter how she loses him? I can't help the tears that have started to fall this week, I can't change the bouts of self pity, I can't change the wondering about what he'd have to say about all this and I can't stop the hole in my heart from swelling just a little.
But not to worry, all those things… like the rest of my life get better when January ends.
~So this blog is dedicated to my father, who taught me how to laugh at myself and how to love myself … and to my mother, who tried very hard to keep us both humble.-