Two months shy of my 25th birthday, my dad passed away. It is impossible to sum up in writing the emotions I felt. There have been happy moments, bittersweet moments, and moments of utter, crushing sadness.
Over time, though, the number of happy moments increased. I found that my loss made me appreciate the 24 years I was privileged to spend with my dad. I’m thankful for our positive relationship, for the forewarning I had before his passing, and for my ability to continue living out his values now. I’m also grateful that my dad regularly told me he was proud of me. And I am proud to have had such a great man as my dad.
I was in a safe space to cry and laugh—whichever I needed.
Last year was my first Father's Day without him. I spent it with a best friend who understood the pain I was going through. I could talk to this friend about grief and bittersweet memories if I wanted, but I could also talk about pop culture, work, life, memes, and other things that had nothing to do with my dad. I was in a safe space to cry and laugh—whichever I needed.
People want me to share my bumpy ride of grief with them, and I'm thankful for that love in my life.
It means a lot to have friends who simply show up—who just check in, and are there. I want people to understand that however I react to Father’s Day—whether I celebrate or am just “broken” for the day—is okay. Last year, friends texted me on Father's Day to see how I was doing. Even if it was a mundane “Hey, how's it going,” it reminded me that I have options and that how I'm feeling is not anyone's burden. People want me to share my bumpy ride of grief with them, and I'm thankful for that love in my life.
This year, I have a little more energy and focus than I did last year. I plan to honor my dad by talking more about the love he showed me, and the selflessness he showed to others. I want to celebrate him and talk about him in ways that he was too humble to do himself. He was truly a one-of-a-kind person. I want to use my reflections about him to help give others the understanding that time with your parents isn't guaranteed—you have to make the most of that time while you have it.