Two and a half weeks passed and I still can’t believe you’re gone. When my mom woke me up at 4:30am that morning, I immediately knew something was wrong but I kept hoping she and I were both mistaken. We weren’t. That morning was the longest morning of my life: city officials, some of which you knew personally, coming to investigate and report, family and friends trickling in and out, and finally, the coroner coming to pick up your body. I remember people whispering concern about me; I remember your brother being the first one there that morning, his presence bringing a sense of resolution and comfort; I remember hearing your cell phone ring and wondering just for a second why you weren’t answering it. Mom, Joey, and I hugged and cried multiple times that day – we usually aren’t big on group hugs but that day was different.
Our local community celebrated your life well, undoubtedly because you were well-loved and respected. I was always aware of how much people looked up to you, but to me, you were always my papa. You understood things about me, like how I processed my emotions or dealt with the world, better than anyone even when you didn’t want to admit it. You always told me that you didn’t worry about me. Sometimes that hurt because I wanted to be “worried about,” but now I know it’s because you had complete faith that I would be ok no matter what. You saw my strength even when I didn’t.
Missing you has been hard for me. I had a second interview for a job, one week after you passed away, and I had to call on the strength you saw just to make it to the interview. That was the first potentially life-changing event I’ve lived where I didn’t try to play off my anxiety and you consistently telling me “good luck” and “you’ll do fine – just believe in yourself,” anyway. That was our routine and it strengthened me every time. I did ok this time, Dad. I actually got the job. I keep wanting to burst into your bedroom to tell you so that you’d be proud of me.
I’m scared though, to tell you the truth. I feel lost without you, like I don’t know how to orchestrate my own life. Normal things feel like anything but normal – I could barely sit it through our first family dinner without you. Great sadness is in the room where you should be. I can’t walk into your mancave outside in the garage without crying – I have so many memories of big life talks we had out there. I always knew where to find you when I needed you and you never turned me away.
I don’t really know how to deal with all of these emotions, because there are so many of them. So many different ones. But I’m trying to be ok with that. I’m trying to find happiness in the midst of all of this grief too. Dameon’s been so supportive. He’s been helping Mom out like he always does and most importantly, he’s been helping me. We’ve been watching The Office dvds that you always got me for Christmas every year. It’s helping. I miss you so much but it’s helping.
When I miss you the most, I look at my hands and remember how we would put our knuckles together and giggle over our matching birthmarks. Here was this tangible display of our bond, the physical manifestation of us. And those birthmarks will be here, on my right hand, with me always.