Living in Peace

Today marks 10 years since the day my dad passed. Was killed? Taken from me? I change the language around depending on my energy. Anyway. It was Friday, April 25, 2008. It’s Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Seeing as I was 10 years old when it happened, I’ve now lived as many years without my dad as I was blessed to share with him. It’s a weird reality to face but I’m facing it finally.

For a long time I didn’t face the realities of my dad’s death or where that left me in the world. I thought I had (or was?) yet not really… I did a lot of crying to myself, and lashing out at others, but could never really identify exactly what I was feeling. Any meltdown I had from 4/25/08 on was accompanied by a “I just miss my dad” (amidst hyperventilating and heavy tears). I do miss him. That’s true. I mean, he was mine. MY DAD. I wouldn’t call myself a daddy’s girl (I’ve always been pretty much attached to my mom at the hip), but man I loved the hell outta my daddy. To me he did no wrong. He was everything to me. He colored pictures and painted with me. Sang songs and choreographed full performances in the middle of our kitchen (occasionally with his original lyrics). Walked me to the dollar store and let me pick out whatever I wanted. Watched that movie Dreamgirls with me over and over again. Let me stay up way past my bedtime playing Pac-Man until eventually he’d carry me upstairs and put me in bed. And bought me canned sodas from the gas station, even when my mom said we were only supposed to be drinking water. And more. Beyond that he was the first and most important man to show me love. So when I lost him, I lost that.

I knew I’d lost the opportunity for my dad to walk me down the aisle. And, trust me, that debutante ball was the last thing I wanted to do my senior year of high school, not having my dad there, but there was a deeper loss I took and didn’t even recognize. I lost my example of love. I lost the genuine, unconditional pride and admiration that exuded from my father’s eyes every time he looked at me. He made me feel special, because to him I was. I lost all of that but again, I didn’t know, so I couldn’t address it. How can you take control of an issue you don’t even realize is there?

I’ve realized in the past few months the negative ways in which I’ve internalized the loss of my father. I realize sometimes I victimize myself. Sometimes I hold myself to a lesser standard than I would’ve had he still been on this earth with me. I forget to want and require for myself what he would’ve made me. I use his loss as a crutch. Remember Aaron from “Concierge”? At some point that night, before I made my way onto the elevator and out of his sight for a few hours, he asked me “what would your father say if he knew you were here right now?” to which I replied “my dad is dead.” Looking back I know that shouldn’t have been an excuse, but that was the space I didn’t know I was in. In that moment I couldn’t fathom the fact that, if my dad were alive, he’d never allow me to be in this place disrespecting myself the way I was. Beyond that, I would’ve never allowed myself to end up in such a predicament in the first place. But I’d lowered my standard.  I’d fallen victim to the daddy issues I didn’t know accompanied me.

I was a little girl who’d grown up without a father. I can’t be that little girl anymore.

I still mourn my dad’s death. I still cling to memories and things that were his. I literally will freak out if I leave the house without his birthstone-ring on my finger. And this may sound childish but every now and then I open the box of special items I have tucked at the top of my closet and hold his shirt up to me for a moment. After all these years, his scent is still there and it comforts me. But I’m not moping around anymore. He would not want that and I don’t want it for myself either.

I promise I won’t post every time this date rolls around. In fact, I hope this is the last post I make in such a way. Ten years is a big deal, yet I’ve made such great strides in just the past 6-7 months alone. If God wanted my life to end that day he would’ve called me home too. He didn’t. So I have to continue to live. We all do. And not only do I have to continue to live, but I have to do so in the best way I can, knowing his death is never in vain.

I’m living in peace while he’s resting.

When India.Arie said “and if I am a reflection of him, then I must be fly,” I felt that in my spirit.

– Jade M Ernest

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