Love Without End, Amen
My daddy's birthday is tomorrow. He would have been 64-years-old. For those of you who do not know, my daddy died of a massive heart attack on April 16th, 2010. He was 61-years-old. Some days it is more than I can bear honestly. That emptiness.
I miss him, to say the least. He had been retired for a few years so he and I would talk on the phone a lot during the day. Every day at two o'clock on my way to get Noah from PreK at Upperman. Well, every day except Wednesday, when he went golfing with the guys. As I got older, he became not just my daddy, but my friend. I hope to have that relationship with my boys one day.
I often find myself envious of others who still have their daddy's. Do they know how lucky they are? Of course they do. Just like I knew how lucky I was to have mine when I did. But they don't know fully. They couldn't possibly.
What's the saying? Ignorance is bliss. I suppose that sums up it up best. What you don't know, what you haven't experienced, you just can't fully understand. And gratefully so.
I often worry about my friends who haven't had to experience this in their lives yet. It was only a few years ago I was one of them. Happy. Not that I am not happy now, I am, just different. In that moment, a part of me died too you see. I am not the same person I was before. I don't believe anyone who knows me could notice the change in me. I think it's more within.
I had been talking to my mama on the phone. It was a Friday night when my sister-in-law beeped in a couple of times so she took the call. When she immediately called back I knew something was wrong. She said "Ginger, let me talk to Matthew." I said "No mama, what is it?" She said, "It's your daddy." And with those simple words I knew.
I immediately threw things in a bag and called my friend Holly to see if she could stay with the boys (She did of course). So, Matthew and I headed to the interstate to go to Nashville. Why Nashville? I remember thinking that was where he would go, either by ambulance or Life Flight, and I would have clothes to stay for days if needed. I made the small, yet hardest decision of my life, for Matthew to call my step mom to see what was going on before we past the Baxter exit, in case we needed to go home. I had mumbled "please" probably a thousand times, literally if not more, up until THAT moment. That moment when everything changed. That was is it. He was gone.
I just didn't understand. Wyatt had spent the night with him a day before because we had taken Noah back to Chattanooga. It was our first visit since getting his autism diagnosis. We met at Crawdaddy's and had dinner. I felt bad, I had been kinda quiet at dinner that night because I had a lot on my mind from the doctor visit earlier in the day. Hindsight, he was kinda quite too. He didn't look good. I assumed he didn't feel good. He suffered from migraines but he wasn't a complainer so he didn't verbally say he felt bad.
Once we got off the exit, I started saying "no, no, no". Not loud, just a bit under my breath. I didn't stop until we pulled into that small hospital parking lot almost an hour away. I think now that I didn't quit because when I stopped it was going to be real. And it was.
Something else that stood out that night and still does today, when I reached my hometown everything was different. Like I was looking at the world through someone else's eyes. Not one thing looked the same and it still doesn't.
Another thing I said a thousand times over is "I didn't know." I remember seeing my mama and cousin Larue who had both lost their parents. I think I even said to them in the parking lot that night, we stood there for a long time, that I was so sorry. This sounds ridiculous but it's like it had just dawned on me that they had walked around in this big ole world with that kind of hurt for that length of time. Larue, who lost her mama suddenly in 1986 and my own mama had lost her parents in 1991 and 1995. I felt guilty for not understanding their pain more. How on earth did they do it?
I now realize you just do. You have no other choice. I will admit, it took me about a year to start functioning as a whole again. Like I stated before, I had just found out in December 2009, not four months before, my Noah had a diagnosis of autism and our daddy died in April 2010. My poor daddy's dad had died 30 years before. I wished I had asked him more questions about him.
One huge thing for me is that I do not have many regrets when it comes to him and our relationship. We were always close. He never missed anything me or my brother and sister did. Worked all day to drive by himself, some days, to watch me sit on the bench at times, for my basketball games. I know he loved me even though he didn't express it verbally and I believe he knew I loved him. Only thing I could maybe think of I would do differently is thank him.
A really close friend of mine told me that grief wasn't something you "get over". It will always be there. She explained it by saying suppose someone dug a big hole in your back yard and told you that you could never fill it. You were just going to have to learn to live with it and around it. And you do. Slowly at first and there are dips in the road, but it gets easier. Not a day goes by I don't think about of him it's just not as hard as it was to remember him as it use to be.
One huge blessing in my life has been my sweet JP. He is named after my daddy "Jonathan Paul Finn" (My daddy's name is Paul) Nothing more in this world that daddy loved than a baby, especially his grandkids. Some days he looks so much like him that it almost takes my breath. You talk about the true definition of bittersweet, because he would have loved him some J.P.!!! How sweet he is, how content he was as a small baby to just sit in that little crook of your arm, how much he smiles, how much he loves his sweets!!! (He loved to feed babies!!)
Happy Birthday Daddy! We sure miss you.