This morning when my alarm went off, I laid in bed for a while thinking about one of my favorite memories of my dad. I’m not sure if a dream prompted this calm and blissful moment or maybe it was because my jewelry hanger fell from my wall for no reason and I started thinking about ghosts. Either way, it was nice to go back there.
It was 1999, two years before I lost him. I was 21 and married with a baby. I had no clue how to navigate an adult relationship, let alone a marriage. But I was sure I would rock at motherhood. It was winter if I remember correctly. I had just put my baby to bed upstairs in his crib and was putting away everything I picked up at Wal-Mart. I was in the living room and the house was mostly dark. I was either meditating or hatching a plan to free myself and my son from what felt like prison. It was eerily quiet until the 24 pack of toilet paper I just bought fell down the stairs. I walked over and stood by the toilet paper for a few minutes, completely baffled that the t.p. had apparently walked around the railing I had placed it behind to get down the stairs. It was impossible. Next, I heard a loud thud and ran up the stairs to get my boy. By the time we had reached the living room, I had already convinced myself that there was a rapist or murderer in my house. I didn’t call my husband, or 911. I called my dad.
He was on the phone with my Uncle Jim, but the call-waiting beeped through and he answered. As usual, he asked, “what’s up babe?”. I told him I was freaking out. He said he would just hang up with his brother quick and then call me back. I could tell he didn’t realize that in my anxious and panicked mind, this was life or death. So, I casually said, “oh it’s fine. I’ll just call 911. Does 911 even work around here? I’m pretty sure there’s a murderer/rapist/burglar in the house with us.” That got his attention. I’m sure he was in bed already. And if my memory serves well, it was snowing, and the roads were bad. Yet somehow, he got to me in ten minutes and he lived 20 miles away. I don’t know how he did it. It seemed like he got there before we even hung up the phone. It was surreal.
He ran into my house and I kid you not, I saw Superman. He grabbed my baby boy and checked him over. He was so very attached to him. His little mini-me. He handed him back to me and marched up the stairs with a baseball bat. I don’t even know where he found this bat. I think it magically appeared. He was going to bust somebody up. No one was going to hurt his little girl and his precious grand-baby. I was safe. I was more than safe. I was probably talking smack to the imaginary murderer/rapist/burglar now that dad/Superman was here to save us. He was never upset that I got him out of bed and out into the cold winter night for no reason. He never even made fun of me for becoming so frantic over nothing. He would make that trip every night if I needed him to.
I have lost that. And I miss it so desperately. The day he died, it feels like I lost everything that held me together. I feel abandoned. I know he didn’t want to leave me, but he did. And some days I get angry because I can’t fix something. I fell apart last night in my garage trying to fix something that I know my dad would have been able to fix in about 30 minutes. This happens often. I came home today to a broken toilet and all the supplies I thought I could fix it with. I ended up sobbing on the floor, feeling sorry for myself that I can’t fix anything and I have no one. Anxiety kicked in and before long I was yelling, “why doesn’t anyone care about me?”. Dramatic right? Dad would have been here in a heartbeat.
I cry a lot because my heart hurts for one reason or another and I used to be able to pick up the phone or drive over to his house and just his voice alone would heal me. And his laugh, the way he would cover his face with his hands when he was laughing uncontrollably would always make me so happy and so thankful for this life. Countless times I would just watch him entertaining everyone and feel so proud that I’m the most blessed daughter there is. We used to sneak cigarettes together and then laugh at how good we were at not getting caught by our spouses. I moved to a new state to be close to him and even if he left, I would have just kept going wherever he was. Daughters need their daddies.
I don’t get to run to him when my heart breaks anymore. I miss the look he would give me when he knew I was about to make a horrible decision. I miss the look he would give me after I made that horrible decision. He would always be there, no matter what and he made sure I knew that. I miss his voice. I still remember it, but I know someday it will just fade away. I miss being able to be called “daddy’s little girl”. I had to grow up fast, but I still wanted to hold that title. It was my security blanket. I miss feeling like I have someone in my corner. Sure, I have my wonderful friends but sometimes I need my family and they’re all 300 miles away. Since he passed, I seem to have lost a lot of those connections and I know that is something he would never allow if he were here.
I miss knowing that there is someone out there who will always keep me safe. I latch on to anyone who gives me that feeling but it’s always fleeting. I always felt so special because he just loved me so much. I was his little girl. I’ll never be the same girl that I was when he was alive. I’ll never be whole again and I think I will always be searching for something that I will never find. I’m just chasing. Running in circles trying to feel safe and taken care of. And loved with no limits.
As badly as I want to be an independent woman who needs no one, I’m still pissed that I don’t have my dad. My fixer of everything. I’ll try to fix whatever is broken, but more times than not I end up in tears and angry that other girls get to have their dads but I don’t. “Girls”… I sound like I’m 10. Maybe my heart is stuck there. Maybe someday I won’t feel like the biggest piece of my heart was ripped from me and there’s no way to get it back. Maybe he’ll come to me in another dream and tell me I need to lighten up. One way or another the damn toilet will get fixed. But for now I’m just going to be a tad angry, a little sad and really jealous of the heavens.