I was browsing back through some old LJ entries, and I stumbled across one that I wrote when upset, and somehow it ended up fairly coherent. In fact, I think it's pretty well written, and it actually made me cry again to read over it. So... I felt like posting it here (most of it, anyhow). If you've already read it, fine, but if not... enjoy, or something.
I miss Daddy so much. And sometimes I feel like it's been so long (since he died in summer '98- about 6 and a half years) that I shouldn't still get so sad. It's like there's something in me that makes me think I have to be strong. I know I don't; I tell everyone else that, and believe it. For some reason, I hold myself to higher standards, though, and I can't take my own advice. I do that on a lot of things. Then other times, I realize how much I'm forgetting, and how much I'm moving on, and I feel guilty. Like I shouldn't be ABLE to put thoughts of my dad out of my head as much as I do. And if I'm forgetting things now, imagine once I'm OLDER. I'm not going to be able to remember many things that aren't in pictures.
The problem is, when you're in 5th grade, you're a whole hell of a lot more worried about moving on to middle school, that guy-you-think-you-like, and the weird "talk" you've just heard than you are about cementing memories and what someone looks like- really looks like, not just in pictures- into your brain. I can't go in my head and picture my dad, the way he was... I can picture the way I've seen him in pictures; I can remember those moments we've captured and the things I did with him over and over. But it's not like it is on TV (Everwood, Boy Meets World), where you can sit there and play a memory in your head, or "see" the person and how they might give you advice on something. I just can't do that. And I hate it. I close my eyes and try to picture his face, and the only things I can see are the expressions I remember from pictures and his face in the coffin, and that face isn't even HIM. Anyone who's seen someone after they die can attest to that- it's just not even the same face. My lack of great visual memory is probably part, if not most, of the reason I love pictures so much, and why I take random pictures of stupid moments that other people might think are retarded. I want to remember EVERYTHING- especially those little moments that seem pointless at the time. Later the pictures can conjure a memory of a feeling that's totally goofy and fun and happy and real. I like candid snapshots, where no one's faking a smile, no one's sucking in their stomach, no one's trying to look different than they really are, and you see the person exactly as they really are/were and feel/felt to be around. I think I just want to capture as much of a true snapshot of a person as I can, because I'm afraid that later I'll lose that person- whether we lose touch, get mad at each other forever, grow apart, or something terrible happens- and I won't be able to remember them. Or I'll be able to remember the posed moments, but not the little everyday things about them that I took for granted. Or the spontaneous goofy moments. And that's part of what I hate about the memories of my dad- I remember very few of the little things, until I touch someone's hands that are big and rough, or I see someone wearing suspenders, or I hear someone singing who obviously loves music but has absolutely no musical talent whatsoever. There are all kinds of little tiny sensations like that that bring the memories rushing back, but it's like they last just a second and then I lose them again.
Occasionally I'll see a dad really into something- like Mr. Griffin with winterguard, or something- and think that my dad would probably be right there too if he was still around. I mean, he owned his own business, and when we were little, he arranged the times he worked so he could coach our teams or help out with stuff that we were in, and I really, honestly, could've seen him being an active helper in TechnoKats or band or guard or whatever, and I wish he could've done it. Sometimes I'll see other peoples' dads that remind me of my dad, or I'll meet one that I just know he'd get along with. When I babysat for Fogelbergs, I remember one time their dad coming home. He doesn't look exactly like my dad, and he's a lot younger, but he's got about the same body build and somewhat similar features, and this strong, loud laugh, and I'm not really sure what it is, but there's something about him that reminds me of my dad. And the one time their dad came home at 5, the kids both stopped playing when they heard the door open, and ran to greet him and give him big hugs when we got home. It was so reminiscent of so many moments in my own childhood that I about cried just watching them. I think it's the moments like that, the ones that catch me off-guard, that are the hardest. When it's my dad's birthday or the anniversary of his death, or I'm visiting his grave, or I put on Phantom music, or something like that... I kind of expect the memories to come. But when they're unexpected, it kind of takes my breath for just a second and then I have to regain my composure.
Sometimes I feel like it's not fair. I try to remind myself how blessed I am, because I totally have about everything else I could ask for. Besides a talent for chemistry, but who knows, maybe I don't even need that. I'm sure I have whatever I need for the life God has planned. But I still have to wonder why, exactly. I know God has a reason and a plan and all that, and I do believe it. I don't expect to be able to understand everything he does-- I mean, I'm only human. But there are times where I just think... "why him?"
I remember when my brother and I initially went into the principal's office and saw my mom and the pastor, and my first thought was that something had happened to my aunt, or maybe uncle. They both had- and have- perpetually bad health, and have been in for hospital visits and surgeries and who knows what else for as long as I can remember. And as soon as I realized something was wrong, they came to mind. It didn't even register that my dad was missing from the room.
I think I never expected it partly because I was still naive, and basically, who expects their healthy dad to get a heart attack at 42? Especially when it's your last day of 5th grade. It's the furthest worry from your mind. And yet... it happens. Whether or not your dad seems healthy to you, whether or not he had a good report at his physical two weeks ago (...he did), whether or not you're too young to lose a parent (Steve was in first grade), it can, and did, happen.
My dad's heart attack was caused by an arrythmia. Basically, a random funky heartbeat. So, the reason? I really wish I knew. I know that it's definitely the single most defining experience of my life, but I still wish I knew WHY. I shouldn't judge people, but I look around at other people who are just... awful, in some ways. And I know I probably think of my dad better both because he was my daddy and because he's not here anymore, but I can't help but wonder why he's gone before some other people. I don't think anyone who knew him thought of him badly. At his viewing, all kinds of people who knew him only through working with the business showed up. Through solely a business relationship with a lot of people, he established such rapport with them that if I go into Napa today and mention my dad's name, they'll remember him, and maybe even remember him bringing Bill and I in there in the Jimmy, and them giving us Tootsie Roll Pops for free even though they were on sale for a quarter. Lots of people who only knew him from working with our family business respected him enough to come to his viewing. It amazes me, and impresses me, that he was able to create such a great business with such strong customer loyalty, despite having lost both of his parents by the time he was my age and following honest business practices and still making time for family. I know I'm probably biased, but ...that doesn't mean I'm wrong.
I think I miss him most or get sad the most when I think about the *big* moments in my life he'll miss, or the people he'll never meet. My dad wasn't there for my graduation from high school, and he won't be there for my graduation from college, or my wedding, or when I have kids. He has never met most of my best friends now, and he's never met any of my boyfriends. He won't get to walk me down the aisle and give me away; he has never gotten to interrogate or intimidate a guy before a date. He never heard me play french horn decently; he never got to tell me that I wasn't allowed out in what I was wearing. He didn't get to help me choose Purdue (though he probably would've pushed for me to look at IU a little more/sooner than I did, lol); he didn't get to see me all dressed up for proms. There are a million more moments, and I hate that any *big* happy moment in my life is going to have this little piece of my heart holding back from being entirely thrilled. When I get married, I'm going to want to be elated, and I'm sure I will be- but there's going to be some little piece of me that can't help but be sad that my Daddy's not there too. No moment that should be happy will be entirely perfect. I know the moments won't be ruined... but it still bothers me. I'm selfish, and I want my daddy with me.
I feel bad sometimes because I treat telling someone about my dad like this necessary evil. Whenever I meet someone, and start to get to know them, I don't immediately bring it up, but I also feel like I should tell them at some point, because I've been in too many situations where I don't mention that my dad's no longer alive, and then somehow the topic randomly comes up and things are horribly awkward. And I think when I tell people, I try to pass it off as not being a big deal, because I hate when people pity me or treat me differently. But I really hope it doesn't come off that way, because my dad's dying definitely WAS a big deal. Still IS a big deal. I think I treat it like a tumor or something sometimes, though. The conversation where I tell a new friend about my dad is just something I feel like I have to get through and do to avoid it being awkward later. And then I feel awful that I treat talking about it like a chore. But I think a lot of the ways I deal with it aren't the best... they're just how I am.
I miss him even more when I'm upset about something. And this semester I've missed him probably more than I had anytime recently. As you all have read way too many times, I just don't quite feel like myself, and I feel like I don't know who I am and who I'm supposed to be becoming. College is supposed to change you and develop you and teach you and transition you to the adult version of you. And I feel like I'm going backwards in almost every aspect. I'm losing my sense of identity, and I feel more and more weak as time goes on. I'm less proud of myself, and more lazy, and less close to God, and more pessimistic, and I just feel like I'm more lost than I've been anytime in the past few years, at least, and I need someone who knows me and gets me to give me the right advice. My mom and I are pretty close, I guess, but I always felt like a daddy's girl. We just got each other, in so many ways. And I just wish I could talk to him, and find out his advice, and feel his arms around me to comfort me. I know it's probably immature, but I just feel like if he were here, he'd be able to help me figure out what's going on with me, and help me get over it. I'm sick of feeling so bad about and so unhappy with myself, but I'm basically stuck in this rut, and I know the things I need to do to get out of it, but for some reason it's just really, really hard. And my friends help- don't get me wrong... some of you help SO much. But other times, I feel like a little girl again and all I want is my daddy to hold me and hug me and make everything better. And then I feel even worse, because I know he can't be there. I'm sure it's just wishful thinking, and he probably would be able to do no more than anyone else can for me right now. But I still wish it.
I know I've said most of this before, but I don't care. And this was long and rambly and now I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face and my nose is running and I don't exactly know why I started writing, or why I went on the tangents that I did. I know this makes very little sense, and I did a horrible job of expressing anything of worth. But... I think some feelings just can't be expressed in words, no matter how much you try, and I think I just need to go upstairs and have a good cry more than I need to sit here like the English nerd I am trying to make this make more sense.
Anyway. Happy birthday, Daddy... I miss you like crazy, even though I know you're in Heaven and that has to be amazing and wonderful.
I love you sooo much.
-Originally posted 12/26/05.