Finding Happiness After a Devastating Loss

No one is ever prepared for loss.

My father and I did not always see eye to eye, but I know he always had my best interest at heart.  My father made sure that I had the childhood that he didn’t; He spoiled my mother and I with gifts and every now and then he would spoil us with time.  He took us on vacations, and supported me when I decided to change my major in my last year of college.  He always forgave me when after I had made him extremely angry and he never let anything I did to upset him keep him from loving me. He made sure to let me know that he appreciated my mom and me (his way of saying he loved us) until the last day he could speak.  I say the last day he could speak because if you’ve ever watched a loved one’s health deteriorate you know that they can’t always express how they feel through words near their last days.  My father loved me and although his love may have been different from anything I’ve seen on television, I know that it was genuine.

On Monday, July 3rd, my father passed away from an 11 month battle with Stage IV Lung Cancer.  I wasn’t prepared for him to leave my mother and I so soon.  It was as if his health declined so quickly that even though one of us had visited him everyday any time he had to be in the hospital, it never felt like it was enough.  Those last two weeks were definitely not enough time, but when is it ever.  There was so much more that I wanted to talk to him about or just sit with him and enjoy his company.  I was not prepared for that to be my last Father’s Day with him or the last time I would see him wave or smile, or the last time I would hear him laugh or crack a joke.  We definitely couldn’t imagine the magnitude of pain we would feel.  Since he passed, I haven’t felt like myself.  I still talk to my friends and I try to remain upbeat, but I know that when I go home a vital piece of my life is missing.  I probably overdid it with trying to appear as if I was not broken, but now it is hitting me like a ton of bricks, but instead of letting it keep me down I am taking those bricks to rebuild.

It may sound cliché, but I realized that life really is too short to not be happy.  He was only 66; that may seem old, but when you’re only 25, you want your parents around way longer than that.  After moping around, I decided that I will no longer make decisions only with my mind, but also with my heart.  I think it is possible to be scared to be happy.  Some people can just jump right in with an open heart and an open mind and can literally be happy in any situation, but not me.  I question everything if it seems like it is too perfect or if I find myself too satisfied.  Is it even possible for a person to be too satisfied? Anyway, too many times before I have put too much energy into overthinking about a situation and it’s caused me to miss out on a lot of great things or question people’s motives even though they are doing them out of love.  I need to accept the amazing people and blessings that come my way without questioning them.  I am learning to accept who I am because life is too short too be worried about what other people think of me or to be disappointed in who I am today.  My journey will never be complete; death is the only thing that can stop me from traveling, but until that day comes, I will always continue to grow into a person I can be proud of.

I love you, Dad!

– J.S.Atkins


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