This time of year is the time of year for family, friends, joy, and generally being kind to others of every walk of life. It is a time of year when we reflect on ourselves and our lives and look at what we are thankful for everyday. For some it is their health or achievements they have done through out the year, for some it is a time to make goals for next year on what they want to improve on. But for some, it is a time to remember those we have lost throughout the years, what they meant to us, and what it has been like having to live without them.
Losing my grandmother at age ten was hard. I still miss her everyday of my life, even though it has been eleven years since she passed. I think about all of the great memories with her, how the holidays were always so special because of her. I think about making gingerbread houses with her, putting up the tree, and her cookies that she always made a million of it seemed. Losing someone in your life at a young age is hard because I feel like you don’t truly understand why they have left, what happened to them. You don’t process it the way you do as an adult.
Losing my dad this year, at age twenty-one, was terrible. I think I felt more losing him than ever before, even if he wasn’t a hundred percent in my life at all times. I think about him daily, who he was, why we lost him, his last days here on earth. I think as an adult it hit me way harder than when I was young because I could understand it better. I understood more of how he died, why it was so traumatic for me, what it now meant for me. It directly effected me being his only child, having to deal with his affairs, all while trying to process his death.
This time of year I think of him frequently. On Thanksgiving I was subconsciously waiting for him to come over, to watch TV with me, to eat deviled eggs. I miss his laugh, the way he cackled at the funny commercials like they were new every time. I miss him asking me about school and work, feeling a bit annoyed because we have had that conversation forty times. I was waiting for him to come over early, eating with us, talking about our family and what we have been through. I miss listening to him complain about his medical problems, which ultimately ended his life.
I wished he was here to meet my boyfriend, who I think he would have loved. I wish he was here to eat green bean casserole that was made specifically for him. I wish he could have been here to eat the buttered rolls I knew he loved, to take home a huge to go container of food that he would devour. I wish he was here to do all of his little quirks that I took for granted all the time. I wish he was here to talk to most of all.
I believe in my heart he died the day after Easter this year. I say believe because that is not what the official report says for various reasons. I remember him coming over, eating with us, and then not taking left overs. That was the first time in my life he didn’t take left overs. I thought it was weird, but I thought maybe he was just trying to eat healthier and didn’t want to have fattening foods around him. I should have questioned it more, but I didn’t.
Losing my dad at this age has made me appreciate my life more, to really be thankful for the people around me everyday. It makes me want to live life with my loved ones while I can, to talk to them more and check in on people more often than I have in the past. I think losing him was meant to happen at this age for a reason unfortunately. I think he died way to early. I think he was supposed to be around for at least ten more years, but his time was cut short. I don’t know why, so I try not to question it too much.
This was traumatizing for me in many ways; the most being the fact that I had to deal with my emotions while trying to figure out his life from pieces of paper telling me about his life. I had to put everything in order with the help of my grandpa and aunt while trying to grieve a man that was half of who I am. I learned more about him in the week following his death than I knew in all my years of being alive, being his daughter.
This experience sent me into some of my worst moments of my life so far. It made me more depressed than I had ever been, made me question every aspect of my life. It made me want to die, to never have to deal with pain again. It really pushed me off an edge I thought I would never have to be on in my young life. It really, truly, sucked. There are better ways to put it, but that is the most simple way of putting it. I know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but when you’re in the middle of what’s killing you, it makes it really hard to see what being stronger will look like.
Trauma at a young age is different than trauma when you’re an adult. You look at everything in many ways rather than a few. You see what an event really does, what it looks like, how it feels after knowing and loving someone for a long period of time. I think as a kid you can only process it to a point; you don’t see everything the way you do when you’ve been alive for longer. People shield you from things when you’re young, but when you’re an adult you have to see everything for what it truly is. It can be horrible to have to see it, but you have to. You don’t have an option.
Of course I am thankful for what has happened to me, regardless of how traumatizing it was at the moment. I think it has made me stronger, more appreciative of what I have in life, who I have in life. I had to go though some trauma to get where I am, to get the help I needed, to realize it’s okay to not be okay, to ask for help. I never would have asked for help in the past, but I now know that if you want to be your best, you need help from others around you. You need love, understanding, you need to talk to someone. It doesn’t make you weak; it shows that you’re strong enough to admit when you need someone.