July 21st started out very weird. It ended just as weird, too.
There was a large fire that happened in town and I remember everyone talking about it, and the pictures being sent around. I remember that even though something so strange happened that morning, it didn’t really phase me.
I continued my day helping out at my job as usual. It wasn’t until I got the phone call.
Funny how as I look back on it, I was more afraid of that phone call instead of the fire.
The conversation started as usual until there was a pause.
The pause right before they say, “We have bad news.”
In that instant everything was OK. Up was up, the sky was blue and it was Thursday. “We have bad news” came spewing out of the phone, before I could even process what exactly the bad news could be.
It was said. My father had passed away unexpectedly.
Up was down, the light turned to darkness, and I wished it wasn’t Thursday.
All I remember after that, was dropping the phone and running outside of the building. Running to where exactly? I still can’t tell you. I guess I was running away from the news, trying to run away from my reality. The reality that I just received this horrible news.
My sister was working with me that day, and she ran out trying to understand what was wrong. I found out later that she thought I was acting hysterical because she thought our cat had ran away. It didn’t cross her mind that the news could have been so bad.
I still regret how I told her. I blurted out the words, “Daddy died.”
Tears streaming down my face, clouding my thoughts and my vision, she stood there frozen. Looking at me with disbelief, yet her first instinct was to comfort me.
A 14-year-old comforting her 20 year old sister. Sisters who have the same father, yet she was the strong one. She was the one who didn’t cry, the one who was telling our coworkers what had recently just happened, while I was breaking into a million pieces.
Once I temporarily finished crying, all I wanted were answers.
I still didn’t know how, where or why. How can someone give such life changing news without explaining why? Two sisters waiting in the parking lot filled with aching sadness and devastating confusion didn’t know why.
We had to wait to be picked up from our mom. Maybe she had all of the answers, maybe she can say that all of this was just a misunderstanding – a mistake.
As she pulled up, I saw it in her face that there was no mistake. My father, her ex husband, it was him. Another wave of tears drowned us.
When your heart aches, you cry. When you cry too much, your head aches.
Too much aching for the duration of the car ride back home was filled with silence. The disbelief overwhelmed our thoughts. The only thing I wanted to do was to call him and have him answer his phone, so I can hear his voice for one last time.
So many thoughts were going through my head. The main thought was how my younger brother was going to take the news. He is only twelve. How do you tell a twelve-year-old boy that the only man role model he had in his life, was gone.
The 30 minute drive seemed like an eternity. I wished it lasted forever; I never wanted to go home. I never wanted to see my brother cry, but we did.
My sister and I stayed in the car while our mom went upstairs. She entered the house and my imagination went wild. I imagined how she told him, how he reacted, and how much his heart ached, too.
We waited in the car until she told us to come up. Walking up those stairs seemed longer than ever before.
We both walked in with caution, awaiting to enter the dragon’s dungeon. We were scared but we knew we wanted to comfort our little brother. The worst part is seeing the people you love in pain. It’s even worse when you are in just the same amount of pain, too. You feel helpless.
We all stood there hugging one another, huddled, never wanting to let go.
Tomorrow is November 11th, my father’s birthday. He would have been 53 this year.
The first birthday where I can’t pick up the phone and wish him ‘Happy Birthday.’ The first and sadly not the last.
It hurts that I am in New York alone, celebrating someone’s life who is no longer living.
Happy Birthday, Daddy. I love you and I miss you!