I Will Never Be the Same

My Dad died from lung cancer when I was 13 years old. That’s my “tag line” when people ask me about him. It sums up all the information they need. But for me, it carries a greater reality I felt when he died – that I will never be the same.

I will never be the same . . . as I was before. In some ways, I see life as a puzzle – every experience you have forms a piece of your unique puzzle. When combined, they form the entire picture of your life. My Dad took a piece of my puzzle with him, a piece that will never return. I am incomplete without it, without him. We shared memories that nobody else shares, which means he knew me differently than anyone else. When someone you love dies, that part of you dies as well. You can’t re-live that memory with anyone else. Your puzzle may grow, but you can never replace that missing piece. And because of that, I will never be the same again.

My view of the world also changed. Before Dad died, I was young, innocent, and naive. I saw God’s beauty in the smallest things – plants starting to bud, cocooning butterflies, the exact color blue of the sky. When I found a four-leaf clover, Dad laminated it for me to preserve that small wonder. When I had questions, Dad would answer them. He always had the answers. The world had infinite joys to discover and I had endless curiosity. Life seemed to go on forever and I never thought about death.

After the funeral, that all changed. I lost my parent, my hero, and my teacher. I thought a lot about death and dying. I still had plenty of questions, but nobody to answer them. And they certainly weren’t fun questions.

So I learned things on my own – great big things that I couldn’t have understood any other way. I learned the importance of telling people that you love them. Don’t ever let them wonder how you feel. Of all the things I regret, missing the chance to say “I love you” will never be one of them. I also learned to never pass up an opportunity to give or receive a genuine hug. When Dad was dying, I was terrified. I didn’t know how to act, what to say, so I sat in silence. He asked me, “Aren’t you going to give me a hug?” When we hugged, he started to cry. That memory has broken my heart ever since. He never should have had to ask. There are few words and fewer acts that can convey more emotion, more truth than a hug. They are the simplest, most perfect way to ease despair, to share joy, to demonstrate empathy, or to show love. Anyone who knows me knows that my hugs are free and frequent.

I will never be the same . . . as someone who hasn’t lost a parent. One of the hardest things about losing a parent is feeling that nobody understands. Even worse is feeling different and seeing those differences every day. When your friend shows you a car his dad bought for him, or you see how happy her dad looks to walk her down the aisle, or when they complain about something their dad did . . . you know you’re not the same. Your “memory playlist” is shorter. You can’t add more memories and you can’t relate to your friends with longer playlists. It hurts, it’s lonely, and there are some days you’d do almost anything to be the same . . . as you were, as they are.
But sometimes being different can be a good thing. At first with bitterness, now with acceptance, I realized that there is no promise of tomorrow. You are given such a small time, and you never know when your time will run out. Many people don’t truly appreciate this. How can they if they’ve never had to think about death? So treasure your life, make it worthwhile. Spend your life doing things that make you happy because you may not have the chance later. My life has been fuller, more beautiful, and more fun because I take chances that come to me. If my dad hadn’t died, would I always have played it safe? Would I have jumped out of that airplane? Would I have swum with dolphins or learned to scuba dive? Would I have hiked that mountain? Something tells me maybe not.

Because of my dad’s death, I will never be the same. I traded innocence and “fitting in” for understanding and appreciation. I lost my dad but gained something in return. Would I give up everything I’ve learned if I could have my dad back? I don’t have that option. The only option I have is to make those changes as valuable as possible. If Dad can see me, I want him to know that he’s still teaching me and still answering my questions.

Photo Credit.

6 Comments:

  1. Lisa said on February 17, 2015 at 3:58 pm ... #

    What an inspirational story. I suffered a very similar experience to you and it literally feels like you’ve climbed into my mind and wrote my thoughts. Amazing writer.

  2. maria romina cendana said on March 6, 2015 at 11:52 am ... #

    I lost my dad 1month ago from liver cancer I’m 26 and my brother is 22.. I have 3 kids my dad love them so much and my kids always ask me about their grandpa . We miss him so much .. No word can explain the pain I feel everytime I miss u ..

  3. Archana said on March 18, 2015 at 8:25 am ... #

    Papa, U know people are changing their moods. Nobody is taking care of my mother. Specially elder one with whom
    you had so many expectations. The younger one is getting worse & the elder one is selfish. His concentration is on his wife and child. My mother is burden for him. He behaved badly with her many a times. Papa, what can i do? Just can share all these things with you.

    Missing you

  4. Anonymous said on March 22, 2015 at 12:29 pm ... #

    Jaspreet , we had lost my dad on 24 march 2012. Our life became zero . We can never cone back from this grief . We always fell lonely.no one cares & no one can understand . Our life is dull. All look waste

  5. Mitch said on March 29, 2015 at 10:54 pm ... #

    i just lost my day 1 week ago to a massive heartattack, i never knew my real mother and was never close with my step mom, i feel like my heart has been ripped from my chest, me and my dad used to spend every day together we worked at the same place even rode in the same car joking all day, he was my teacher.. my friend..my everything,
    now i just feel empty, nothing i used to do before makes me happy i feel so numb to everything now,

    i need to ask do you ever feel like yourself again ? do you feel happiness they way you used to ?

  6. Jeff said on April 7, 2015 at 9:58 am ... #

    I am 53 now and at the Age Of Only “5” I Lost My Father From A Heart Attack Which I Was UNFORTUNATLY There To See! This Loss At Such A Young Age Has Caused Me So Many Problems With My Mental Stability And Still Does Like His Passing Like It Was Just Yesterday! I missed out in The Opportunity Of Being Taught The Ways Of This World And What It Means To Be A Man And A Whole Lot Of Other Things! I Often Get Upset With GOD Knowing How This Would Cause Me So Many Problems! My Late Mother Would Always Tell Me “NEVER QUESTION GOD EVEN IN TIMES IF SUCH HURT AND PAIN LIKE THIS!” I am A Father Now With Two Beautiful Daughters And It Hurts So Much That My Mental Challenges Has Caused Them Hurt Along With Only Having Part If A Father Even Though With My Difficult, Very Difficult Challenges, I Try My Best But They Deserved Better And I Will “NEVER FORGIVE MYSELF” Because Of Knowing That They Deserved More And That They Would Never Had To Question If I Truly “LOVED THEM!”

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