It feels like just yesterday I wrote my original letter to you, but today marks one year since you've been gone. You always told me "don't blink;" life comes just as quickly as it goes. I never thought I'd learn it this early in life, and I never thought I'd learn it by losing you, but I'm glad that you were the one to teach me. Not one day goes by that I don't think of you.
I'm still so connected, yet so disconnected to you at the same time. It's tough to describe. Today hits a little hard, but I've come to a few realizations that will undoubtedly help me pull through today, and every day for that matter. The realizations created feelings that I cannot describe. They're not sad. They're not happy. They're not depressed. They're not elated. They're a combination of all that overwhelm me with a sense of chaos, but also overwhelm me a sense of peace. These feelings are some that I have never felt before, but I welcome them just like I welcome any other feeling, experience, or situation. To be honest, I'm happy to simply feel again. The numbness that I experienced this past year was the most painful thing, as paradoxical as it sounds.
Through this experience, I've learned a few invaluable life lessons:
1. Capture Moments. Photography has become even more important to me since you've passed. I love to capture moments, feelings, and experiences. Reminiscing and revisiting old memories have become some of my favorite past times. Although I find myself revisiting the same photos of us (I do not have too many recent ones), I cherish those the most. I wish would have listened and scheduled the family photos that you endlessly asked me to do. I stalled because I thought they would be "cheesy," and now I'm kicking myself in the ass, wishing that I would have listened. If I knew they would have been the last that I had with you, I would have fully embraced the cheesiness. I know, I know... "I told you so." Dad wins. He always wins.
2. Find Strength in Yourself. You raised me to be an independent person, but we all know that I relied on you emotionally, not to mention financially, growing up. You were my best friend. You were the first person that I turned to when things got sticky. After you passed, I was forced to be my own form of support. I had a lot of help from family and friends, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, I learned how to help myself more this past year than ever before. I learned the type of person I want to be. I learned the kind of people I want to surround myself with. I learned what I want in my future. I learned how to find strength in myself. They are the most liberating, fulfilling lessons in the world.
3. Appreciate Life: Because you were strong, I was strong. Because you were honest, I was honest. Because you were a dad, I was a beloved daughter. There's not enough words in the world to thank you for all that you have done for me and for everyone else on this planet. I think it's safe to speak for our family and friends and say that you truly made an impact on all of us. You were always happy-go-lucky, Buddy. The man who always had some tunes 🎶 on and a big, dorky smile on his face. Because of you, I want to know that I always live my life exactly the way that I want to. I always want to appreciate the things, the experiences, the people in my life. After you passed, I found myself stuck in a cloud that I could not escape. I lost my sense of color and had trouble finding my sense of appreciation, but I'm fortunate to have found it again. As cliche as it sounds, I've realized that life is truly a blessing and it is 100% what you craft it to be. Thank you for teaching me to never, ever lose sight of that.
Today and always, I would give an arm and a leg to have one more moment with you. To exchange one more message with you. To play with Zoey one more time with you. Although you're no longer here physically, I know you're here spiritually. Your death forced me to become the woman that you always wanted me to be. I will never fully fathom why you had to leave so soon, but I find solace in the lessons that I have learned without you even being here.
Thank you for forever being my dad. Thank you for always giving me your all. I love you forever. ♥︎