I always like to keep my pain hidden. I do not like people knowing when I am sad, mad, angry, or anything in between. This just leads to extreme blow ups because all of that built up energy comes out at one time. I have always thought “Other people have it worse than you”. I think this has what kept me from showing my true emotions for most of my life. However, I do not think this is always the case. Sometimes I think I am the “other people” that quote is referring to. Recently, it has felt like this world has beaten me down like I owed it money or something. I am not asking for sympathy, but I would like to tell my story.
Here is some background information. My parents have been divorced since I was three years old. We did the thing where I would see him every other weekend for quite some time, but the slowly faded into seeing him once a month. It sometimes was longer than that. The older I was, the less I wanted to see my dad. I did not see the effort from his side so I did not show it back. It would be one thing if he lived close to me, but he was always one to two states over. I would have to make a week or weekend out of seeing him. I did really want a relationship with him especially once I was in my late teens, I have lived with my mom and brother my whole life. We are all very close. Now to get into the real details.
August 6th 2018, my grandmother passed away. This was my dad’s mom. She had always adored me. I will never forget how tightly she would hug me every single time she would see me. She would always do whatever she could for me when I was visiting, and my time there was never enough. She always wanted just one more day. I used to always look forward to going to their house in Pennsylvania because she would always have these magazines waiting for me. They had little games in there for me. They would come monthly so sometimes when it had been a while since I had been there, they would pile up for me. I will also never forget one year she got me a birthday carrot because I didn’t like ice cream cake. The older I was, the less and less I saw her. I have a lot of regrets about that. My dad and grandmother were living in Delaware for quite some time. I would take the Lewes Ferry over to see them. One of the last times I was up there, I did not get to see her. We had made plans to see her, but for some reason it never happened.
I remember being at work when I got a text from my dad that he needed to call me urgently. This was during a time when we thought had dad had been using drugs because he had looked very thin. I thought he was going to admit that to me. He had told me that my grandma passed of a heart attack in his arms that day. It was the most emotion I had ever seen from my dad. I had talked to him for hours that day. That week I even talked to him every single time he called no matter what I was doing because I wanted to be there for him. He told me these stories about how he thought something super natural happened after she passed. He thought his mom was saying goodbye in some way or another. He was telling me how things can change in a matter of seconds so you should never hold in your feelings. He said you should tell people you love them every single day. He wanted to fix his relationship with me. It was the first time I genuinely believed every single word coming out of his mouth. It felt like he had a moment of realization. I was so excited because I had never felt so close to my father before. He had always felt like a friend to me. The funeral came and went, and I could tell from there that things weren’t going to change. I specifically remember trying to say goodbye to him after the luncheon, but he was just too focused on talking about cars.
This began a six-month period where I did not speak to him at all. He would text me, but I would pretty much ignore him. He made it seem like he was going to fix things with me, but he never actually did. He was just working on finding a new job. This job was in Texas so I never would’ve seen him. Some of these next details are a bit of a blur so bear with me. February 24th, 2019 I was woken up by my brother around ten in the morning. He was crying. I was confused. He told me he needed to talk to me. I was so stressed out that this point because I had never seen my brother like this. He hugs me tight and says, “Dad died this morning”. I don’t think I can explain how I felt in that moment. I was confused and overwhelmed. I walk into my moms’ room and she hands me her phone. It is my Uncle Bill. He is married to my dad’s sister. He explains to me everything he knows and we hang up. I sit there with my mouth wide open for what it felt like an eternity. I had never expected this news. I had thoughts in my head about if he had died, how would I feel? Would I even invite him to my wedding? Would it be better if he wasn’t around so I didn’t have to wait around for him to reach out to me? My mind was racing.
I called all of my closest friends and told them. I think this moment really made me go from a child to an adult. Even though I was twenty years old, it felt like this whole situation aged me significantly. My brother is four years older than me, but I still felt like I had to be the man of the house. I would come home to see my mom a complete mess. Even though they had been divorced for about seventeen years, she was so hurt for me and my brother. She also deeply loved this man once upon a time. I hated showing my feelings around anyone so I just was strong and was there for everyone. I forced myself back to college so that I wouldn’t fall behind. It also helped distract me. The week after my father died was the longest week of my life. I had to plan a funeral. I had to decide what to do with his body. I had to talk to so many people and it was so overwhelming. This was the last thing I thought I would have had to do to at twenty. One moment that does not leave my mind is when I got to see him one more time before he was cremated. You can skip ahead if you want to avoid details. I saw his cold, lifeless body there. It was sickening. I needed to see him one more time since it had been so long. I do not know if I regret it or not. I don’t think anyone should ever see something like that. I just wanted him to wake up. Be back to his goofy self. I got to say my goodbyes with my brother which is what really hurt.
After this day, I feel like I can not recall very much. I think I was so out of it that my memory went blank. I have a lot of regret in all of the loss I have in my life. Especially my father. I found out he was scared to reach out to me because of the rejection I was giving him. The last text message I have on my phone from him is me giving him the cold shoulder when he was trying to compliment what I wore to a Christmas Party. Everyone tells me it was his job to reach out to me and it isn’t my fault. I should’ve just over extended so I would have a relationship with my dad. This is the worst way it could’ve ended. To this day, I have never fully mourned over his loss. I have never given myself time. I block it out and have other things that happen. I went to see therapists for this, but honestly that was just a waste of my time. I think I have gotten more relief from writing this than the ten plus house I spent with those people. I was told my dad had passed because of a bad heart, but we were still getting an autopsy done. It felt like everyone really knew what was going on but me. It came in and my brother didn’t want to read it because he already knew what was on it. I always wanted to know. It wasn’t for a few months later when I insisted that I got the toxicology report so I could read it. Based off of that, it does not look like it was just a bad heart. I took one positive from this. That is that I see myself as some sort of helper for other people. I go out of my way to reach out to other people who lost their parents and talk to them as much as I can. I pride myself in this. I want to try to make it as easy as I can for them because I do not think I had someone to guide me through the pain.
Fast Forward to January of this year. Everything seems to be going great in my life. Well that changed quickly. My thirteen-year-old dog started getting very sick. It was so sudden. He was a boxer named Scooter. He was the best and most loyal dog I have ever seen. I am not being biased. He could be walked with no leash. He would never get into things. He was like a father to my other dogs. It felt like he was going to live forever. He has never been sick and out of no where we had to put him down within a few days. In a blink of an eye, he was gone. It seemed like he may have had some sort of tumor that lead to bleeding in his stomach. Just like all of my other loss, this death hurt me so badly. I blamed myself a lot for this, but I don’t know why. I specifically remember a few days before his stomach swelled up with blood, he got tangled in my blankets and fell off my bed. I always thought his name something open up and that lead to his death. He loved to lay right between my legs in bed. He was the first pet I lost as an adult so it hit me so hard. I had two cats, two other dogs, a mom, and brother, but my house still felt empty without him. I was twenty-one when he passed so he pretty much raised me since I was eight. This hurt like losing a family member. I will never forget holding him on my lap as puppy and pretending like he was riding a scooter.
The final domino that fell was when I lost my fourteen-year old dog, Ollie, just last week. She would have bee fifteen next month. My family had no doubt that she would’ve hit that birthday. Her medicine was keeping her very healthy and very happy. She looked better at fourteen than she had at twelve. She was my mom’s little girl. They always stuck together because they were the only girls in the house. Ollie was the daughter my mom never had. She looked so well that every time someone came over, they would compliment her. The doctors would call her an anomaly because she had lived twice her expectancy. She was special. I got a call a week ago today when I got done work. I had to rush home because she had been having a bad seizure. This continued on and off from eight o’clock at night until one o’clock in the morning. I had such a bad feeling from this. She had never experienced a seizure before this. She had a bad heart that lead to fainting, but that is it. It was a sight I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It is so sad to see a loved one go through this. That could have been her last night, but my mom wanted to keep fighting. There was not much of a change over the next day. She couldn’t walk or get up. She kept twitching. It seemed like she was in another world. I did not want to remember her that way. It was heartbreaking. Saturday morning, Halloween, was her last day with us. It still feels fake. I just want to go down stairs and see her little head peak up at me.
Life hasn’t given me a minute to understand what is going on. I learned life doesn’t stop for you. You can’t be left behind. I have had so much loss, but I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. I am strong and have fought through. I have grown a lot from the whole situation. I’m not perfect, but I am trying to be the best I can be. I still think about how my dad told me to tell people I love them every day just in case I don’t get the opportunity. I have used this with all of my feelings. I don’t hold them in anymore. There is no point. You have one life so might has well get as many opportunities as you can.