Seven Years Down…A Lifetime to Go: Coping With the Loss of a Parent

On February 7, 2010 my dad died. His passing was very unexpected and as you could imagine it was very hard to accept. I rarely ever share the details of this day with anyone because I don’t want pity and also it’s a very private part of my life. However, I am deciding to share my story because this part of my life taught me a lot and I think others could benefit from reading my story and also how I overcame this part of my life. So let’s start from the beginning.

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One of four of the last photos taken of my dad

February 7, 2010:

The east coast was hit with a massive snowstorm in 2010. Snow covered cars, yards, everything. Schools were closed and most employees weren’t going to work unless they were essential workers. My father was an essential worker. As a building engineer he was responsible for making sure the building he worked at ran smoothly. Many of the guys he worked with were stranded at work because of the weather. My dad was called in to relieve some of the workers.

I remember waking up that morning and I knew that my dad was outside shoveling snow. I just knew it. I remember jumping out of bed and going to wash up and then getting dressed in my winter gear so that I could go outside and help him. If you know me then you know how strange this is because I don’t do manual labor. EVER. For anyone or anything. Yet, on this day everything in my being wanted to be outside with my dad. I remember going outside and seeing him working. I greeted him and we hugged and he kissed me on the cheek. I grabbed a shovel and started to help. I remember him saying, “Take your time. Pace yourself. You don’t have to do it all at once. Take your time.” As we worked my mom and sister soon trickled out of the house and began to help too. Pretty soon most of the neighborhood was outside shoveling their driveways as well. A few hours in we decided to shovel out my mom’s car. Mind you I’m 5’1 1/2 and the snow we were in where my mom’s car was parked came up to my mid-thigh. Needless to say I went into the house to thaw out once we were done.

Soon after my mom and sister came into the house as well. It was Super Bowl Sunday so my mom was preparing to make “Super Bowl food” like she always does. I’m sitting at the kitchen table as my mom moves around the kitchen and a thought comes into my head. I wanted to go back outside. However, my body won’t move. I’m sure by now some of you are thinking this girl is bats**t, but I lie to not. I could move about my home effortlessly, but every time I thought or tried to move my body towards any door leading outside of my home my body would not move. I went upstairs to get my mom something and returned to my seat at the table. As I sat there confused and thinking WTF is wrong with me I hear a loud bang on the door.

My mom hurriedly goes to answer the feverish knock. It’s our neighbor from across the street. As he tries to catch his breath I hear him say, “call 911 Thomas is down.” My mom runs and grabs the phone. Me…well I’m still confused. I get up from the table and head to the front door. I go outside. I had on a black t-shirt with The Beatles faces on it and purple sweat pants and turquoise flip-flops. It was about 10 degrees outside. I didn’t feel it. As I’m walking outside I keep thinking to myself “what’s the big deal?” Mind you I’m thinking worse case scenario he slipped on ice or something else major, but minor. Make sense?

I make my way down my driveway which is quite lengthy. About 4-5 cars can fit on it in a row. It is also on a hump and it has pillars lining it. To see over the hump you have to get to the first set of pillars. I made it to the first set of pillars.

Nothing prepared me for what I saw. I can still remember hearing myself scream “daddy” from my soul as I ran to him. I reach him and I’m standing over him crying and screaming hysterically. My father was lying out in our driveway motionless. His body position mimicked a starfish. I’m in shock. I never imagined this was the problem. I never imagined this would be my dad. My neighbor snaps me out of my hysterics.

My neighbor is kneeled down by my father’s side giving him chest compressions. I remember him yelling to me “I need you to focus. I need you to breathe into his mouth while I press on his chest. Can you do that?” I nodded my head yes. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I kneel down to my father’s side. I’m staring him in his eyes. His pupils are huge. His face was cold. His lips were ashy and grey. I go to breathe into his mouth. So much slobber spills out his mouth and onto my face. I wipe it away and I try a few more times. Then I stopped.

I remember looking into my dad’s eyes. It was almost like the world slowed down. Like it was only us left in the world. I was crying. A tear fell from my eye and fell on to his face and rolled down his cheek as if he were crying. I was holding his hand. Praying to God that he take me instead. “God please don’t let my father die,” was all I could think of. I hugged him. Crying so hard I was shaking. I never let go of his hand. I stopped hugging him and went back to looking at him. I knew. I shook my head in a yes motion, as if signaling it was ok for him to go. I kissed his hand. I told him loved him and got up and walked away.

That night at 7 pm, my mother arrived home from the hospital to let me and my sister know that our father had died. I later learned he had a heart attack and the doctor believes he died instantaneously. Meaning by the time he hit the ground he was dead.

The Aftermath:

For months after my dad died I didn’t leave the house and I didn’t talk to anyone. I stayed home in my bed in silence. If I did decide to go to school I spent my day crying. Most of the time I didn’t do my work or I’d just find a way to go home early. I was vacant. Of course I could laugh and talk with my friends, but that dull ache in my soul followed me everywhere I went. I became extremely anxious and paranoid. I hated not being with my mom because I was convinced that she was going to die too. I was always nervous and watching my surroundings. I didn’t feel comfortable anywhere and I hated being outside of my home. My mom tried to help me, but what could she really do except love me through it? She suggested therapy and I declined several times, until one day I decided to go. It helped, but a bigger breakthrough helped even more.

I don’t remember what day this was specifically, but I will never forget this day ever. I had just arrived home from school and I remember walking from my bus stop to my house and I was infuriated. I don’t know why I just was. I reached my home and I saw my dad’s truck outside and I became even more furious. Once I got inside my house I was so angry I could barely breathe.

I stomp upstairs and I go into my room. Trying to catch my breath, I begin to deeply inhale and exhale. I close my eyes and walk in a circle trying to calm myself down. I finally get to a point where I feel like I can breathe and I stop walking. I open my eyes and there it was…my favorite picture of my dad and me. I become angry all over again. I screamed! I screamed, I yelled, I cursed, I fought the air. In a nutshell, I went ape s**t. I grabbed the picture and I just screamed and stared at it. I was crying so hard I could barely see. However, after about 15 minutes I started to feel better. Tired, I sunk down to the floor holding the picture in my hands. I cried some more. All I kept thinking was “you left me.” I just remember praying to God that He would take my pain away. At that point I was so tired of being sad about the same thing. Of course it’s my dad so I’ll never not be sad about it, but I couldn’t take myself anymore. I couldn’t take the pain anymore.

I got off the floor and got into my bed. Uniform on and everything. Still holding my picture I drifted off to sleep. That night I dreamed of my dad. That night I was finally able to begin my journey to peace and begin my healing process.

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My favorite photo of me and my dad

Overcoming:

Honestly my overcoming process was simple. I prayed A LOT! I had to forgive God first though. I was angry with God for taking my father from me, but I had to realize that my father’s journey ending was a singular event in his life that affected mine. I had to realize that it was his time and I had to respect that and get past it for the sake of not losing my own life in the process. I surrounded myself with people who loved me and also I genuinely decided to be happy. I decided to live. I also had to forgive myself. I had to allow myself to know nothing was my fault and there was nothing I could do to save my dad. I had to let go and let God.

Now:

I still have my days, but I am much much better with dealing with his death. I’ll be honest and say you don’t ever really get over it. I know they say time heals everything and I believe in that because I’ve experienced it. However, in this case this will always be painful for me no matter I what I do. However, I don’t allow myself to stay sad. My dad was an amazing man. He was loved and respected. He was strong and he was honest. He wasn’t afraid of anything and he loved the hell out my family and me. I’m honored to be his daughter and even with our ups and downs he is still the GOAT to me.

My father’s passing made me grow up though. It made me see life on a larger spectrum. It made me not become so co-dependent on others. I also think it made me love harder.

People tell me all the time how much I remind them of my dad and that makes me feel good. We are twins in a lotttttt of ways. All in all, our memories are something I will cherish forever. He is someone I will cherish forever. I mean he is the reason why I’m so smart. My dad always pushed me in school, made me solve puzzles, watch him fix things, etc. He taught me a lot and he wanted me and my mom and sister to know how to take care of ourselves. He was sooooo funny. He is still to this day the only person to make me laugh from my soul. He was gentle and kind-hearted. I loved spending time with my dad and just being around him. He is also where I get my diverse taste in music from. I never told him, but I always thought he was cool. Even though he wasn’t (haha).

Well to wrap this up I want to say thank you to my mom for being my best friend and greatest confidant. I don’t know how you do it, but you do it every time. Thank you for just being you. Thank you to my family and friends for loving me through my pain and being there for me always! You all are so special to me I can’t even describe it. Most importantly, thank you to God for healing me and continuing to bless me even when I turned my back on you. I sent up many prayers about needing to get through this part of my life and you pulled me out of my darkness and gave me a new set of eyes. Thank you for blessing me with a stellar example of what a father is supposed to be.

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Baby Bazey and her daddy

To those reading this. I pray that you hug your parent(s) a little tighter today. I pray you love them through their faults and I pray that you both appreciate one another always. Life truly is short. Love yours.

 

I love you forever “old man.”

 

-xoThomas’s Daughter, Bazey

 

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