Existing in a World My Dad Doesn’t

Existing in a World My Dad Doesn’t

Fourteen years ago today my daddy died. The years go by but the story remains the same.

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He was admitted into the hospital on a Monday early evening, diagnosed and he died seven days later of end-stage liver disease. No one knew he was sick. An alcoholic, yes. On his death bed, no. I was twenty-four years old when I held his hand as he took his last breath and died.

It all happened so fast.

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Credit Image: orangeaurochs on Flickr

The admitting doctor was flabbergasted by our decision not to bring him in sooner. How could we not notice the long list of warning signs that oh, by the way mimic those of a drunk man?

Was it my fault? Should I have seen the signs earlier? If we did something sooner, could we have saved his life? The answers to these questions didn’t matter. We were faced with the situation at hand.

As the oldest child, I had already been forced by default to give up my childhood to help raise my brothers and sisters after my mom up and left. And now, by default again, I was forced to make all medical decisions for my daddy.

The doctors didn’t think he would make it through the night. He remained in the hospital for seven days. Doctors, nurses, social workers (my baby brother was still a minor), hospice care workers and family members all had questions and needed answers, from me.

I wasn’t allowed to process the gravity of the situation. He died, and I wasn’t given time to mourn. There were more decisions that needed to be made.

I had to figure out which funeral home to use, reserve the church to hold the funeral, pick out a burial spot, decide not only on a tombstone but what to write on it.

I had to provide the church with reading selections and songs. I had to select a prayer and picture for the little pamphlet thing.

I had to chose pallbearers and arrange transportation to the church, the burial site and back home.

I was in charge of putting pen to paper and writing an obituary for a man I refused to believe was really dead.

I had to chose the casket and buy the outfit my daddy would be buried in.

Oh the angst of realizing inside a Dillard's that it didn’t matter if the bottom of his pants weren’t hemmed because no one would be viewing the lower half of his body.

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Every year around this time, my range of emotions are in constant conflict with each other. I am left sad and confused.

I want to remember him for being the amazing daddy of my memories. The one who raised five children as a single dad.

The one who handed down his passion for the game. The one who gave all of his amazing wisdom in the form of sports analogies.

The one who instilled in us the importance of discipline, hard-work and respect.

The one who was unashamed to bust a move on the dance floor and play the drums like a rock star on the steering wheel of his car.

The one I credit with for  all the good I have inside in me.

The one who I desperately wish my kids could meet and have in their lives.

Instead every year on the anniversary of his death I am filled with rage. I am so damn mad at the man who drank his life away. The one who was consumed with addiction.

The man who embodied the definition of functional alcoholic, excelling at a well paying job for more than twenty-five years but drinking until he was drunk Every. Single. Day.

People often ignorantly say it gets better with time. They are wrong. It has been fourteen years since my daddy died, and I miss him more today than ever before.

I think this scene from Grey’s Anatomy titled the Dead Dads Club says it best.

Like George, I don’t know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn’t. Lucky for me, I don’t have to. When the anger subsides I am left with the truth. My daddy lives through me.

So on this day I will embrace the anger, the rage and the sadness but I will praise God for his legacy.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  {Jeremiah 29:11}

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