It’s hard for me to believe that this past Friday marked eight years since my dad lost his battle with lymphoma.
Each year, when my mom reminds me of the day, because it is something that I mentally detach myself from, I go through a whole reflection process of how it all happened and how I sometimes still can’t believe it.
Losing my dad, when I was 18-years-old, will forever be one of the hardest things I have, or will ever, go through. Mentally, I don’t think anyone is ever ready to lose a parent, but at my age I definitely wasn’t. However, now that I have had time to move on and grow up, I now understand that God has a plan for everything – even if, at the time, you don’t understand it.
My dad got really ill my first year at college, and eventually lost his battle that same year. Today I am going to write a little about my family and how I now, eight years later, have accepted what happened.
My parents got divorced when I was 5-years-old. Fortunately for my brother and I, following our parent’s divorce, they remained really great friends which made things a lot easier.
Growing up, I typically took my Saturdays to be entirely with my dad. It was our day and I wish I could have more of them. I grew up quite the daddy’s girl and sometimes I think that is why I really struggled for a while with him not being around, and understanding why God could do such a thing to our family.
When I was in high school, my dad, who didn’t play golf, would go out to the golf course with me and carry my clubs as I walked 9 holes. It was our weekly Saturday ritual – he would pick me up from my mom’s house, we’d walk the course if the weather was nice and then go to dinner that evening. He’d also take me to Blockbuster and let me, “pick out,” a movie for our viewing that night. He would let me pick one out that was SciFi or something he would like, which is probably where my love for Star Wars began.
I remember a lot of times, in high school, being that girl who didn’t go anywhere on the weekends, but a large part of that was due to valuing my time with my dad – which now I am so glad that I did.
My dad was a Vice Principal, so he had really high expectations for my brother and I, and knew every excuse in the book. So even if I wanted to go be a cool kid and walk around the mall aimlessly like kids do – my dad already knew the excuses and it wasn’t going to happen.
There was this one time I decided to color my hair red by myself, and it turned out flame-fire red like Gene’s from the X-Men when she turns into the Phoenix and I remember how mad my dad was. He told me I looked like a kid that belonged in his office…haha!
When I went away to college, at first, I got pretty aggravated with my dad. He never made it to any of my golf matches and kept telling me he, “Didn’t feel up to it,” which really confused me. My dad had always been this super active guy, but he started not feeling well and his doctor couldn’t give our family many answers as to what was going on.
For months, my dad was misdiagnosed – which used to frustrate me so much because if his cancer had been noticed earlier he may have been able to beat it. But hey, you live and you learn!
I remember coming home for winter break and heading over to my father’s house to see what in the world was going on with him. That December day, I pulled up to his house around lunchtime and half of the blinds in his house were closed. It was really strange considering my dad was the early bird in the family! I opened the locked sliding door and found a frail version of my dad sitting on his couch in his pajamas in the dim light.
I remember thinking then that I wasn’t going to have my dad much longer and that something was seriously wrong. I called my mom that day crying so hard she thought I had totaled my car. I just remember hearing this voice in my head saying that he wasn’t going to be around much longer, and it was so difficult to wrap my head around it.
My dad had always been a large guy – big-boned and maybe 180-190 lbs, at least. That day, after calling my mom hysterically crying and us driving him to the hospital, we found out he only weighed about 135 lbs. It turned out that my dad didn’t feel good because of his cancer. He had lost his appetite around Halloween and hadn’t really eaten anything for over a month.
It’s so wild to think about what your body and cells are capable of when you think about it. I think what happened to my dad is such a big part of why I try to fuel myself in the best way possible and be on top of my game as much as I can. My dad was an extremely active man, but I don’t think the fast food or microwave meals did any favors to his health.
When my dad got sick, I was so mad at the world. I like to think I was really tough through the whole situation, but deep down I was the hot-mess express and I think it is important that I tell you all that.
When I reminisce about that time in my life, I kind of cringe at how mad I was and how much I questioned how anyone could believe in God when he could do such a terrible thing to me and my family.
From the time my dad was diagnosed and through his three-month battle and going through Chemo, we learned a lot about the toughness that runs in our family’s blood. My father fought and fought, until his body couldn’t handle it anymore. As I sit here crying while I write this, the tears are happy because I know that a part of him lives on through me.
Often I think that is the attitude that we need to have after going through tough situations like that. Now that I have grown as a person and have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities since then, I have a different perspective on everything.
You see, losing my dad was one of the hardest times I may ever go through – but I truly thank God for that struggle. I wish my dad was here every single day, but when I think about the path my life has gone on since then, I understand now that God had a plan for us.
Just for example, after my dad passed my mom took me to my first NASCAR race. I mean, who knew that a couple of years later I would be graced with the opportunity to work in that sport? Then, while working in it, I just happen to meet the most amazing guy – one that my dad would be proud of! It’s truly crazy.
God surprises us in the most interesting ways.
It’s kind of amazing to think about it too, but the day my dad passed I was actually on a golf course in Savannah, GA for a college tournament. I remember wanting to be at home after the doctors had given us the, “he might make it two more weeks,” spiel, but my dad and mom insisted I go to the tournament.
So off I went to Savannah, and sure enough the morning of the day that my dad passed, I “Eagled,” a Par-5 from about 200 yards out with a 4-wood – of all things! If you play golf, you know how random that is. I couldn’t hit that shot again if my life depended on it and, in my heart, I am positive that my dad knocked that it for me on his way up.
My coach was up at the green, when I hit the shot, and I just remember his crazy-self running all around the hole cheering.
What I really just want to stress in this blog post is that you will have times in your life that are extremely hard. You may not understand why you’re being put through what you’re being put through. Whatever you’re going through might make you mad and you might hate everything at that point, and that’s ok – you’re allowed to be upset and angry.
But what you need to understand is that God has a plan for everything in your life. As Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
He has a plan for you, so keep your head up.