Eight years ago today one of the most tragic things that can happen in your life happened to my family and me. My father lost his life in a terrible car accident. Every year on this day I am reminded of him. Of course I think of him at other times too. It’s the anniversary that always hits me though.
It’s something we all have to face at some point in our life, the death of a parent. I was young when my dad died. However, I’m the eldest of two younger sisters and they had him for even less time. He never got to meet my sister’s two beautiful baby boys Ethan and Jackson, but somehow I know he’s with them just as he’s with me and my sisters and our mom too.
I feel that it’s important to honor him on this day. I try to take some time out each year to think about how his influence in my life made me who I am and all the gifts that he gave me. He taught me so much. I remember specific things like the fact that he was always using big words around me and telling me I needed to have a good vocabulary because it would make me smarter and better able to communicate in the world. I remember how much I am like him and how much of him is carried on in the world because I’m still here and remembering.
I’m sad because of all the things he’s missed in the time since he’s been gone. He would’ve have loved this internet thing. My sister was living at home right before the accident and she had just gotten a new Mac. My husband, my sister and I were showing him how you could take digital video and make your own movies just a day before he died. He teased my sister about the fact that he was going to be spending lots of time bogarting her computer. He was so smart and it really would’ve been a world he would have relished exploring.
June 30th, 1997 is one of those days in time that I will never forget. It is etched in my memory. I remember all the things that happened that day. I remember what I was doing. I remember talking to my mom on the phone about the great weekend we had visiting. We were all together, my sisters, my husband, my brother-in-law and my parents. We went out that Saturday night to celebrate my sister’s first wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful dinner and laughed heartily about the fact that my dad, my brother-in-law, and my husband had all recently caught the same interesting documentary on the History channel. He liked that kind of programming. Apparently my sister and I had found mates with similar taste, it was a good chuckle. Later that night we all went to a coffee shop and played board games. Usually we fought when we played games. It was different that night. We teased each other, but nobody really got upset or competitive, we just went with the flow. My dad had his first mocha and remarked how much he liked it. We really enjoyed each other and being together. I think this is where my philosophy of ‘everything happens for a reason’ embedded itself in my life. We needed to be together and we needed to enjoy that time because that was the last time we were ever together that way. He died two days later.
And I distinctly remember the phone call. My mom’s good friend left us a message. We never actually answer the phone and I don’t think we even had caller ID at that time. She didn’t say what happened, but I knew I had to call her back right away. She told me that dad was in an accident. All I could think about was getting to my mom. My husband and I pulled everything together as quickly as possible, dropped keys off at our friends house and headed back the way we had just come the day before.
When I got to my parents house I found out that the state patrol had come to the door that day to tell mom. Fortunately my sister was with my mom and the authorities informed them of what happened. I am so grateful to my sister for being there. They found out together and they had each other at that horrible moment. It was our worst nightmare and it had come true.
The following hours, days, weeks and months were a blur. It was the first death in my life. I had no idea what to expect and honestly the grieving process still surprises me. You don’t get over it.
And this anniversary I am away from home. I am away from my family, my husband, my doggies and everything that makes me feel safe. In fact, I’m not even in the country. I wasn’t sure how this would go and I don’t think I ever want to be away again on this day. However, life goes on and we have to live it. My dad would be really proud of me. I’m doing my work and contributing to my profession in my small way by sharing knowledge that I have learned. This day is always going to be hard no matter what the circumstances. I was lucky to have him as long as I did. I’m grateful and I’ll spend the day with memories of him and I won’t be alone anymore.
As this is my first year of blogging and this is the first June 30th, I document these thoughts in his honor. Life is precious and it is important to treasure the quiet seemingly simple and mundane moments. (like playing board games with your family and drinking mochas)
One last lesson he imparted on me that I want to share with you. He always said, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, take that away as a thought for the day and give your parents a hug too.