As I have been writing these posts, I have been able to rekindle friendships and tell the people in my life how much I love them. It has truly been an awesome experience so far. I read on the news today about a mother and two children who died in a tragic car accident. The woman has a husband and another child who survived her. As soon as I read the headline, my heart filled with heaviness and grief for the loved ones involved in this tragedy. Life is so short. Even when it is lived to 90 or 100 years. I feel that it is essential we tell those who are in our lives what they mean to us because of life's unexpected turns. I hope and pray this sweet husband and wife had a loving embrace followed by loving words before the crash. My heart and prayers go out to the family involved with today's devastating deadline.
With this in mind, I want to write about my sweet father. Perhaps one of the hardest parts of dealing with his death at age 12, was dealing with his absence while growing up. For the first several weeks following Dad's death, I would expect the front door to swing open around 6:00 P.M. My dad usually found my mom first thing to give her a big hug and kiss and then we'd eat dinner as a family. Days went by unusually slow for a while. 6:00 P.M. would roll around and the door would remain untouched no matter how much I wished for it to magically bring back my father. The heartache and depression seemed unbearable at the time. I often remember walking around the junior high halls feeling hurt that no one really understood what I was going through. It seemed that most of them thought their bad hair day was enough to scar their junior high career. It did not seem to register for many of them the realness of life and death. Because of this, I often felt jaded and isolated. Also those kids who seemed to show concern didn't really know what to say or how to approach me, so I watched as they stared at me or whispered to their friends about what was going on. Ugh, junior high is hard enough without having to deal with all of that and then go home and deal with a heart-broken mother and a home without my Dad. It seemed unfair.
Looking back now, I realize that there were probably a lot of kids dealing with equally hard problems: divorce, abuse, and poverty. I wish I could have realized that then so many of us didn't have to deal with it alone, feeling empty and hurt. I do have to say that I was blessed enough to have a twin sister who was always there for me. We knew how each other felt without having to talk about it. I was also extremely blessed to have a mother who did all she could to make sure my childhood wasn't a black hole. Also, later on, I met some wonderful friends who were able to replace a lot of the pain I felt with joyous memories.
Although writing about all of this feels good, I haven't mentioned what I miss and love about my papa. You know the saying, "The best thing a father can do for his kids is love their mother?" Well, according to this statement, my dad did the best thing for his children because he was absolutely smitten with my mother and it was almost sickeningly too sweet. My parents had the most romantic marriage. They loved to spend time with each other dancing and playing games. As children, we knew at 10:00 P.M., my parents were no longer parents. They put us to sleep and then had the rest of their night to themselves to build their relationship, even if it meant working together on something. My dad was also sickeningly sweet to us, his children. He loved to give us "bear hugs" and what he called "slobbery kisses." He spoiled us with love.
My father had an amazing testimony. He always told us that he never doubted. There is no doubt his strong testimony must have been a gift from the Holy Ghost. I remember one of the last Family Home Evenings we had, my sweet Dad almost begged us to follow the commandments and live the gospel so we could be together as a family again. In his eyes, even at 12, I could see that he believed whole-hardheartedly in what he was teaching us. He believed in the gospel and the strength of the family.
Dad, I love you dearly and tenderly. I wish M could have the opportunity to be held by you and have one of your slobbery kisses. However, I know that you are still near, watching over my sweet family and being there for Mom. Papa, I'm always missing you.