Today marks 19 years. 19 years since I said goodbye to my dad. 19 years since I’ve felt his touch. 19 years since I’ve heard his heartbeat. 19 years since I’ve heard his voice. It’s been so freaking hard. And other times, it’s just been my normal. I’ve lived much longer without him than I did with him. I lost him when I was 14. Now I’m 33.
This last year has been an interesting one without my dad. Going through a divorce and all of the aftermath had me thinking about him more than I had in a long time. Early in my betrayal trauma treatment, my therapist asked me to watch videos of my dad and “invite him back into my life.” I was having an extremely hard time feeling like there were any men I could wholeheartedly say I trusted 100%. I remember my therapist asking me if there were any, even just one. I immediately thought of my new dad (my step-dad) and how much I love and respect and care for him. And I know he feels the same towards me. I told my therapist that I could trust him. He then asked me if I was certain even he would never walk away from me. And I started bawling because I didn’t trust that. Not even a little. I also realized how deep this distrust really did run – that I didn’t trust that any man could love me enough for me to know he would never leave me or betray me. As much as I hated feeling this, I felt like my dad “left” me when I was a girl, even though he didn’t choose to have cancer. And he certainly didn’t choose to die from it.
While doing my therapy assignment, I found a gem of a video from when I was a little girl. You can hear my dad say to me “Go gettem’, Dani!” I love it because it’s exactly what I can see him saying to me through all the crap I’ve been through this last year. I know he had faith in me when I was a kid, and I know he still has faith in my now. I’ve felt him in my life more this last year. I know he’s been here. I know he’s been here for my kids. Through more of my treatment, I’ve felt him right next to me. I’ve seen and felt him hug me. I’ve felt his support for me and complete faith in me to not just get through this time, but to learn all that I need and grow in the ways I need. We’ve all needed more help this last year than I probably can even comprehend.
When I was pregnant with my first child, a son, I remember thinking that I didn’t “need” to name him after his grandpa. I always thought that I definitely wanted to name one of my kids after my dad. But once I got pregnant, I was so excited about looking through names and picking one. I even had another name picked for my baby that I had shared with everyone. I vividly remember a night that I was laying in bed alone. I had my hand on my stomach so I could feel the little kicks that were just starting to be strong enough for me to experience. I had such a strong, overwhelming feeling come to me that the name I had chosen for my little boy was not the right name for him. Timothy. His grandpa’s name. That needed to be his name. And I knew it really did.
My Tiny Tim, just like his grandpa, has been such a blessing in my life. He has so many features from his grandpa. He looks so much like him. This kid has been such a huge rockstar this last year. I’ve watched him feel things that no kid should have to feel. I’ve watched him grow up much faster than he should be required to. I’ve admired his strength when he had to change schools. I’ve watched him step right in to help when he can tell his mama is having one of those really bad days. I’ve been grateful for his love towards his little brother and sister when they all play well together. This little boy of mine is one of my greatest joys. I’m grateful for that night and that strong impression because my Tim and his grandpa both deserve to be acknowledged and recognized for the amazing people they are.
I miss my dad. I’ll always miss him. But I’m so grateful that I know that he’s here WHENEVER I need. I’m also grateful for this last year and all the treatment and work I’ve done to KNOW that my dad didn’t leave me. I didn’t do anything wrong to cause his death, either. I’m glad this last year has allowed me to feel peace surrounding the death of the first man I loved. It’s always amazing what beauty truly comes from ashes.