When you lose a parent.

3/15/2011 01:49:00 PM
My Dad and I. I think I was about 8?

When I was ten-years-old my Dad died.

I was in the 5th grade at Ottawa River Elementary school. It was a split class of 5th and 6th graders. I came home from school and called my Dad's house like I did every day to talk to my Mom. My parents were divorced, but my Mom was at his house helping with his care.

My brother answered the phone and he said, "You haven't heard, have you?"

Ugh.

But he didn't SAY it.

So, if he didn't SAY it, it didn't happen today, right?

So, I changed my clothes. I remember what I was wearing (of course, I do.) It was the white-t-shirt that I painted with the art therapist who came to talk to me once a week about having a dying parent. (I humored her. She told me about the loss of her parent and I thought I was there to help her. Smile.)

Anyway, I was playing with a friend in the front of my house... (I think she even knew)... and the rest of the day was a blur.

I don't remember who told me that he had died.
I just remember feeling hollow.
I had only felt that once before.

--

I wasn't a kid, really. I was always a 35-year-old. (Ask my family - they can attest to this.) I've grown up with two not-well parents and some other circumstances that propelled me prematurely into adulthood. Don't get me wrong, I didn't go kicking and screaming. I always felt more at home with adults and talking about serious subject matter.

So, I understood all of this. I was fully aware of life versus death.

I had seen through a delicately protected prism what cancer does. Of course, I had seen this through my little girl eyes - but I remember it like it was yesterday. I saw how my Dad changed. I saw how his body changed. I heard how his speech and voiced changed. His skin changed. His hair...

I knew.

--

Before he died, my Dad sat down with me in my room. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was holding my teddy bear, "Tedit." (He had bought it for me on one of his many trips to Bethesda for his experimental cancer therapy.)

He just came right out and said it:

"Kylee, I'm going to die."

I nodded.

And that's when I felt hollow for the first time.

And that's when I cried.

I cried because no daughter ever wants to lose the strongest person they know.

No child should have to witness her Dad lose his battle.

--

Now I look back at that conversation and my eyes well up with tears because I'm a parent now.
And I can't imagine looking at my baby girls and telling them what he told me.

Oh, how brave.

How brave he was to do that.

And how thankful I am that he did.

When he died, I wasn't surprised. I understood.
Why? Because he told me that this was going to happen.

I wish more people had the opportunity I had.

--

When he died, I got his eyeglasses. I'd put them on every now and then and I remember the year that our prescriptions were almost identical. I could see through his eyes.


When someone you love dies, you always want to feel close to them, don't you?

So on this day, I remember my Dad. And I thank God for those ten years that I got with him. And I thank God that I have siblings who remind me of him.

I look at my brother and I see my Dad. Sometimes, and I love these times - I can hear my Dad's laugh when he laughs.

Ah, it's just another way to feel close to the one you lost. Thank God for those times.

Life goes on, doesn't it?

--

Hug your family today.

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26 comments:

  1. I'm typing through tears.

    I understand, but in a different way. My heart grieves for you and for him. You were both too, too young.

    I love you, Ky. You are one of the strongest people I know.

    Wrapping my arms around you. . . across the miles.

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  2. Oh, Kylee, you always seem to make me cry. I didn't know your dad passed away when you were so young, or at least I don't remember knowing that.

    You are so brave.

    And your dad is extremely brave for telling you. How difficult that must have been for the both of you.

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  3. THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL... and I am CRYING!!!!!! You write so beautifully and convey words perfectly.

    xoxo

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  4. Dear, dear, wise friend. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Hugs and love to you.

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  5. I was proctoring an exam tonight when I read this. I broke down in tears.

    How tough that must have been for you at such a young age. You are amazing. Hugs to you.

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  6. OMG, I know exactly that feeling....
    Again you made me cry!!!
    :(

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  7. I knew you lost your dad when you were young, but I've never heard this before.

    Hugs.

    (and thank you for sharing)

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been tough to write but in true Two Pretzels fashion, it was absolutely beautiful. Your honesty and emotion comes out in your writing in such a fluid way.

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  9. What an honest transparent post. My thoughts are with you on this day. I cant imaginge losing a parent as a young child. Im quite sure he would be very proud of the woman and mother you have become. Thanks for reminding me how precious life is and to let my family know how much I love them every day.

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  10. Not only would your Dad be so proud of the woman you've become but I'm sure his heart would be so happy about the man you chose to spend your life with. Thank you for sharing this with us!

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  11. thank you for this, my friend. it made me understand you better as a person and friend. this was such an unfortunate turn of events in your life, but i'm certain that you would not be the same person without it. thank you for your honesty and beautiful words.

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  12. I love you.

    You are a strong and amazing person and it sounds like you got a lot of that from your Dad. You certainly look A LOT like him.

    My thoughts are with you today. Much, much love to you.

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  13. I didn't know this story... I just knew you lost your dad when you were a kid. It's one of those things you're not sure you should ask about, ya know? Thanks for sharing.

    I'm crying at work... that never happens unless I read your blog. I should learn, no?

    Thinking about you today, friend.

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  14. I don't know you but through your words I feel your loss. I'm sitting here crying while reading this.

    It's amazing when you become a parent to finally understand your own parents...the love, the sacrifice, the bravery, the fears...

    Sending hugs to you today!

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  15. Oh Ky, you are just so beautiful. Thank you for this post. It sparked many tears...and allowed many to relate. Love you.

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  16. This is so sweet. I am so sorry you had to go through that at such a young age but I'm amazed at how strong you are. I think you are wonderful. Hugs!

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  17. That was a beautiful post, absolutely beautiful. There are about a dozen things that I want to say, but none of them feel good enough. So all I can express is, as I reflect on how proud you are to have had the father you did, I bet he would be undeniably proud to have a daughter who remembers him as fondly as you do. Your still-present connection with him is what everlasting love and admiration is all about. It's wonderful to read.

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  18. Wow, what a beautiful written and touching post.....you can't help but be filled with emotion when reading this. I agree with other comments, it sounds like there is a lot of your dad in you!

    HUGS to you.

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  19. My friend, you are so smart. And your heart so big. And your writing so perfect. And anything I could say is so poor, but I'm sure your dad smiles everyday when he checks on you. He made wonderful children, you and your siblings (at least the ones I got to meet). And your children. And your children's children. At the end you all came and will come from him. And I'm sure his laugh will travel through generations so you always remember.

    There's a saying in Spanish that goes like this: "Solo se aprende a ser hijo, cuando uno se convierte en padre". I think that is an absolute truth.

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  20. what a beautiful, poignant post, ky. not only was it touching to read your reflections on this huge, life-altering event you went through in childhood, but so meaningful to see how age and life experience changes ones perspective on so much. you come from good people, and your girls are so lucky to have you as their mom.

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  21. Oh, Kylee. This is hard to read. I hate that you had to experience this so young... or at all.

    Having to face my Dad's mortality recently rocked. my. world.

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  22. I absolutely loved your dad. We were all members of the same church/school. He was a kind, wise, fun-loving man. He never failed to help with an event or share an encouraging word with anyone. I was only in highschool when he went to heaven and it devastated me too. I remember him fondly and was very touched by this tribute. Hugs to your famiy today I will always cherish my memories of him.

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  23. I bet you miss your Dad every day.

    This was a powerful and beautiful post. Amazing that you are a parent now. I bet your Dad is looking down on you and his grandchildren and felling very proud.

    Love to you Ky.

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  24. I'm reading this a few days after we e-mailed about this day, and I'm still crying. Ky, this was beautiful. YOU are beautiful. What a special, heartbreaking story. Thank you so much for having the courage to share it.

    You are SO loved. HUG.

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  25. Dear Daughter

    I love you so very much, and I KNOW
    that your dad would be more than
    proud of the woman, mother and person that you are today. mom

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  26. Wow, Ky. What a beautiful post, and what a strong person you became so early. The way you write captures my heart sometimes. You're wonderful.

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