I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t dealing with a struggle. Honestly, it seems that every stage of life comes with an new set of hurdles and sometimes life forgets to give you the instructions on how to handle them. I’m only 34 years old, but my understanding is that these struggles are there for us to experience and grow from. Every struggle I’ve had in my life has been hard, some extremely difficult, but they have all taught me a lesson and sculpted the person I’ve become, hopefully for the better! Let me share one with you today as I’ve spent some time pondering life’s lessons.
My Father’s Death- My Father died early in life, too early. He was in his early 40’s, just a few years older than I am now. My parents divorced when I was young, and he moved back to his home state of Arizona. I lived with my mother, who had remarried, and therefore didn’t see him often. As I grew up, I always got excited for summertime, because that is when my sister and I would get to fly down to see him for a few weeks while on break from school. It was always a magical time for us, as he spoiled us rotten. Looking back now, I think he felt bad he couldn’t see us all the time, and always tried to squeeze everything he could into those few weeks. So naturally we only did fun stuff, and there were very little rules. Every summer was an adventure, and the memories will always be close.
I remember my mom getting a call one day when I was in 6th grade. It was my dad. I knew something was wrong as my mom asked me to go to my room while she talked to him. This was odd. I heard her crying on the phone. I was a little confused. They talked for over an hour, and finally the call ended. I don’t remember the exact words, but my sister and I came out of our rooms to talk with Mother. She told us that Dad had gotten sick, and that it was serious. I remember being scared, but also not knowing much about his sickness. It was a hard time for my sister and I.
Over the next couple of years, we spent a little more time than usual with my Dad, flying down for Christmas, staying a little longer in the summer, and talking much more on the phone. Although he put on a brave face and always tried to make light of the situation, we both knew deep down that time was a factor. Although we laughed and enjoyed the next couple of years with him, his condition worsened quickly. By the last summer visit, he couldn’t even get out of bed unassisted. He has a nurse around the clock. We spent that summer with an Uncle and Aunt taking us to every fun attraction they could while we were on vacation at Dad’s, but the summer was the least favorite I can remember.
My dad died that Fall. I remember the phone call from my grandfather telling me the news. Although I knew the day would eventually come, I was not ready. Not even close. I cried. I cried a lot that night, all by myself. I remember going to school the next day. I don’t know if I was just numb, or didn’t want people to know, or just didn’t know how to react. I don’t know if anybody does in that situation. I didn’t talk much about my Dad’s sickness with my friends or family, as I was still trying to learn all I could about it and understand it.
The funeral was hard. It was weird watching everyone talk about my Dad and remember him. They all had different memories of him, most of them different from my own experiences of him. In that moment I saw that there was much I didn’t know about him, but I didn’t want to believe that. I was jealous for a moment that I had missed so much of him while he was here. I just wanted to hold on to the good memories I had with him. Sometimes, I still pretend those memories are all there ever were.
As time passed and I grew up, I came to the realization that there was a lot I didn’t really know about my dad. Although he loved me an my sister very much, he had a lot of struggles of his own, some that he never overcame, and never talked to my sister and I about. This was hard to deal with as time passed, as I felt I never really got to have an open discussion and honest answers from my Dad. I’m still waiting I guess.
As a 34 year old adult, I’ve analyzed my Dad, our relationship, my parents marriage, everything you can think of many times over and over. You always wonder what if??? The realization I’ve come to is that life is full of experiences, both good and bad, and your decisions can play a major role in how things turn out.
My Dad loved me and my sister very much. I think he really loved my mother too. He just had too many vices that he couldn’t overcome. There were many decisions he made in his life; some good, and some bad. They all had consequences. I have learned something from this lesson especially.
This is just a small blip from my timeline, but I felt I needed to write it down today. I don’t know why, as I don’t talk about it often. In the past I’ve often internalized conflicts, and never talked about them. I’m finding as I’ve gotten older, it’s good to talk about your thoughts and emotions. There are people who will listen and understand.
I didn’t write this blog to make anyone sad. I wrote it to show that hard situations are a part of life. Struggle is a part of life. Loss is a part of life. On the flip side, they give you great perspective if you allow. You can see the light through the dark. The pain brings with it sweet relief, over time. Time allows you to grow and gain vision and understanding. Nobody has all the answers, but part of this life is having the experiences and learning something from them, especially about yourself.
I know God has a purpose for me, and it is more than I can comprehend today. But as I continue to have faith in him, he opens my eyes a little more each day, and I begin to see his plan unravel for me. I want you all to know that I have experienced great pain and sorrow. I have experienced letdowns, sadness, anger, and even death. These were hard experiences, but they gave me something in return. They gave me perspective. They gave me gratitude. They taught me patience and understanding. They strengthened my faith. They gave me the life I now have, and I am grateful for experiences I have had. They allow me to share messages like this one, and know that I am not alone.
I love you all, and am grateful for your love and support of my family. I hope on a small level, you can feel my love and support for all of you!