It’s been said that you never know how you will handle a life-altering event until it happens to you. Some people are very private, closed-off, and process everything internally, while others tell the whole world in hopes that it will help them cope with what’s actually happening. There is no right or wrong way.
As a blogger, I’ve become accustomed to sacrificing a lot of privacy to share stories with my readers, and even though my most current devastation has taken me while to get down in writing, I still knew sharing it would be my own way of processing things – so here. we. go.
On October 7th, 2015 just 6 short months ago, the world lost someone very special. Some people knew him as a police officer, others as a car magician and an avid outdoors man, but I knew him as dad (Dadio to be more specific). I saw him just a month before he passed, after quitting my job and going back home to Wisconsin to gather my shit, so it was not something I was prepared for. That phone call from my mom is something that I will never forget. I heard what she was saying but I refused to believe it. It seemed as if my world was shattering around me, and I had my first experience of heart break. For some reason, I thought that if I didn’t say it out loud, maybe it wouldn’t be real.
That’s why it’s taken me so long to write this post – I thought that if I just went on with my day/life like nothing happened that I would just go back home to Wisconsin and my dad would be waiting for me. I thought that I would just wait a few days and call him on Sunday for our weekly chat over the Bears game. But as the stabbing pain in my chest began to deepen, I realized I was in denial.
The situation was very real. Within hours, the hospital, funeral home, multiple family members and a lawyer had called. I answered none of the them. The thought of reliving the situation over and over again just didn’t sit well with me. Once the stabbing pain in my chest had lessened, the only thing I could feel was the overwhelmingly sick feeling I got when I tried to call my dad’s phone and it went to voicemail again and again.
The next week was a blur. Somehow I managed to get in my car and drive back to Wisconsin. That 7 hours in the car was the hardest drive I’ve ever had to make. Being alone that long with your thoughts can be a dangerous thing. My mind was racing. I started to think about the last time I saw my dad. He was happy, and from what I saw, healthy. As I was recalling that last visit, my sadness had suddenly turned to anger. I was mad at him for not telling my brother and I he had cancer. It was a secret that he had kept for months because he didn’t want my brother and I to “worry” about him. I was mad that my mom had kept it a secret from us for a month (a request per my dad), I was mad that he was no longer going to walk me down the aisle one day, let alone know his grand kids. I even got mad at the smallest, things like the fact that I now had no one to call when the Bears played (or when Jay Cutler was being a total bitch), when I had car trouble, or just needed to hear his voice.
After the sadness set in, I truly thought that I would never laugh or be happy again. How could I, knowing someone so important to me was gone? This feeling stuck with me the whole time I was in Wisconsin. I was physically and mentally a wreck.
Since I’ve never dealt with a major death before, I wasn’t sure how I was going to react after the initial shock wore off (if it ever did). But once I was with my brother, he and I decided to deal with it the only way we knew how – with humor and our sarcastic, witty personalities. My dad wouldn’t have wanted it any other way since he was ultimately the one that made us like that after years of teasing us and playing jokes on us. I’m not sure the funeral director understood it, let alone appreciated it as much as we did, and I’m pretty sure everyone from our hometown thought we totally lost it, but to each their own, right?
Like with most things he did, my dad had a method to his madness. He didn’t want us knowing he was sick in fear that we would worry and he wanted us to remember him as he was, not sick. My brother and I mourned and are still mourning in our ways, but in order to get through that week we wanted to celebrate the life that he lived.
After a week of what seemed like hell on earth, my family had my dad’s memorial service. We watched the Bears play, ate his favorite food and exchanged funny stories about him. It was the perfect way to celebrate his life. All of his favorite people and things together in one place.
Since then, I’ve had good days where I can talk about my dad and laugh, and bad days where I can’t even look at a photo of him without crying. But as time passes, I’ve been able to see the good this unfortunate situation has done in my life. In an effort to deal with anything else but the passing of my hero, I threw myself into my work. I decided to relaunch my blog, further my career, and reinvent my lifestyle!
It was official, in losing my dad, I finally found myself. My nose that I hated for being too big now reminded me of my dad who had the same facial features. The weight on the scale seemed so minuscule compared to everything else. What people thought of me no longer mattered because I knew I could make it through anything after what I had endured the past few months. I’ve learned to accept all of myself for exactly what I am and my main goal in life now is to do just what my dad always used to tell me “Don’t worry, be happy.” I know that with everything I do on my journey of happiness he is watching over me and following me every step of the way.
Love you Dadio,