Five Years

Five years ago, August 31st was a Saturday. The weather was unremarkable, we were having a house party, and my life changed forever. This wasn’t the kind of change that I worked for. Nothing I did made it happen and nothing I could have done would have stopped it. I can’t put into words how powerless, how helpless I felt.

Five years ago, my father died. Quite unexpectedly, I might add. I was expecting my mother to die. She was coming to the end of her almost year long fight against cancer. She had just come home from a week in the hospital and was now in Hospice care. For anyone who doesn’t know, Hospice is a service for people at the end of their lives. So, it was a certainty that I was losing a parent.

But expectations can never prepare you for reality and I hadn’t even been expecting this. Who even could? Who would think that one parent would die while another parent was about to? There’s the saying, life is stranger than fiction. I could’ve lived without having my life be a perfect example of that.

I’ll never forget that day, the unmistakable worst day of my life. The combined total body numbness and overwhelming emotion that I felt once what happened had sunk in.

But that was five years ago and today should not be a day to remember my grief. Today, I remember my Dad. The last thing I remember him saying was, “I’m so glad you and your brother are home. I’m happy we’re all together.”  I remember him being happy to be with the people he loved and those who loved him.

My Dad loved fully and openly, and he taught me to do so as well. Now, it’s one of my favorite parts of myself. Anyone who was important to my Dad knew they were important to him. He felt no shame or hesitation in expressing his feelings and emotions, a trait that is unfortunately less common in men than it should be.

My Dad was IS one of my favorite people in the world. We understood each other. We looked at the world in similar ways. He was the first person I went to when I wanted to talk. He taught me how to give advice, how to empathize, how to listen. The day after he died, I said, “The only person I want to talk to is the only person who’s not here.” This is one of the things I miss the most.

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I lit five candles today. This is the first time I’ve consciously done something to commemorate the anniversary of his death. Perhaps that’s because this is the first year I haven’t had the start of a school year to worry about. It’s very confusing to be starting a new semester and also be thinking about death; the clash of a beginning and an ending. Hopefully I’ll adopt certain actions or dedications for these anniversaries in the future. I always have memories but it feels good to do something.

Ashley