peace

Every morning, my husband and I do about 15 minutes of yoga together. A quarantine habit that stuck, we lay our mats in the living room floor and start our day with a short practice. Our YouTube yogi, Kassandra, always encourages us to come up with an intention–a word or phrase for how we want the day to go.

It’s been 21 years since my daddy died. Today, on the anniversary of his death, Today, my intention was “peaceful.” Peaceful for him, wherever he is.

Peaceful for me as I continue to exist without him.

I’m so thankful to have a stepdad who’s exactly the kind of father you want to have–attentive, funny, supportive, always there with a word of advice when you need it. My stepdad (who I just call “Dad”) is like the dads I saw on TV growing up. He’s what I always hoped to have, and I’m grateful he stepped into that role in my life.

But my daddy is always present, even in absentia.

My daddy suffered from alcoholism; that’s ultimately what took his life. Even though I know he was sick, I can’t help but feel like he gave up on our family. He didn’t try to get better for us (at least that’s what my my 9-year-old perspective gathered). I’ll never know what he thought, or felt, or hoped for in those last few years he was alive.

I wish I could come to peace with that, the not knowing.

Would my parents have stayed married? Would my daddy and I have a close relationship? I have so many questions I’ll never know the answers to. I’ll never know how things would have been had he gotten treatment, and it tears me apart inside.

I try to comfort myself with the thought that maybe someday we’ll be reunited. Maybe my daddy will be waiting for me, ready to take my hand and lead me into wherever we go when our lives end. Maybe we’ll finally get to sit, and talk, and cry, and he’ll answer the questions that have run through my mind since he died 21 years ago today.

Until then, I’ll think of him and ask the universe to keep things peaceful…for both of us.

On Fathers Day, I Ate Tomatoes

My father died when I was 13. 

Since then, I’ve felt his absence with each year. So many milestones were met without him there. Getting my first boyfriend. Passing my drivers test. High school graduation, college graduation, move to a new state, receiving my MBA–each passed without his presence. 

Every man I loved made his way into my heart without first gaining the trust of my father. Perhaps this is why I’ve been so unlucky in love. There wasn’t a man who loved me more than any other man could to provide an example of what true love is, to set a standard by which I could evaluate every man who comes into my life. 

My daddy was an alcoholic who lost his life to cirrhosis of the liver. I’m angry at my father for some of the choices he made, but I don’t doubt for a second that he loved me and my mother. Addiction has gotten the best of many, so I can’t judge him–what good would it do anyway?–and sometimes addiction is stronger even than love. 

Regardless, I’m proud to wear my father’s name. I miss him every day and cherish the memories I have of him: his laugh, his smile, how he used to call me “Mama.” His undying love for UK men’s basketball. How he’d wear jeans even on the hottest days and rarely seeing him without a hat. How we used to fight over the last tomato from our neighbor’s garden, but in the end we’d always share it.  

So today, Fathers Day, I ate tomatoes. I drank a beer (his beverage of choice). I cried for the missed moments, those that have passed and those that are to come. But I smiled too. I remembered the good times and I thanked God for sending me my daddy, even if I only had him for a short time. 

I miss him so much. But I know he is watching over me. I hope he’s proud. 

  Tomatoes, with a sprinkle of salt, and a beer in honor of my daddy.