June 17, 2017

This is a year of firsts. I am not talking about the year of 2017. I am talking about October 7th 2016-October 7th 2017. The first year we will have spent without my dad. We have had the first Thanksgiving without him. I had my first birthday without him. The first Christmas. The first New Year’s Eve. The first Easter. The first birthday for my daughters without him. The list can go on and on. The main one I am thinking about today is that it is the first Father’s Day without my dad.

He was the most amazing person and I have so many wonderful memories with him. He had the best humor. I like to think I got mine from him. He was so athletic. I am sure he was let down by me never becoming a “real”athlete. I think I was athletic, but was always so clumsy and would run into things or go to the wrong basketball hoop during a game. ha!

He made everything fun. He loved movies and music. I hate that I can’t ask him who sang a song that I hear on the radio anymore. He loved knowing dates (of pretty much anything) and knew so many random pop culture facts. He was pretty much the smartest person I have ever known.

Family Photo: I mean look how amazing we all look

He and my mom were always so loving to each other in front of us. They always instilled in us to do our best and do the things we wanted to do. YOLO was never a thing back when I was younger, but I like to think that he started that idea for me and my brother when we were little. We went on a month-long trip out west because he and my mom wanted us to experience something amazing.

I was actually invited to the high school prom with him and I thought I was so special to be able to go with him. Check out my jewelry.

We would go on trips every summer. He would drive on backroads all the time and that used to drive me crazy. I would just want to get to the destination as fast as we could. I get it more now. He wanted to see more things and show us more places. I think he wanted to take it all in without being rushed.

He loved kids and was so amazing with them. He was the best papa to my daughters. Even when he was tired from dialysis, he would still play with them. I am so sad that they won’t know him when they are old enough to appreciate who he really was to them. 

What won’t get out of my head is the last 10 days of his life. I am assuming it’s a grief thing. I have so many thoughts about things I would have done differently and things I wish I could have said to him. He was such an amazing fighter. He fought cancer multiple times, had so many surgeries (including a heart surgery in 2014) and fought the kidney stuff since the heart surgery.

I wish he hadn’t had to go through so many health things and wish he and my mom could have lived an easier life. I know that the cancer made them who they were. Though I don’t want to give cancer credit for anything (F*** CANCER!), I think it made them appreciate and experience so much more of life together and created so many more experiences for us.

I feel so blessed to have had him as my father and will never feel I had enough time with him or that my daughters had enough time with him. I feel even more blessed to have Jake as a wonderful father to our daughters. I see my dad in my brother all the time now. He is a wonderful father too and I love seeing him with his sons. 

Here is a little excerpt from his journal that I feel like sharing. These were going to be the chapters in the book he was writing. I think these alone are little lessons on life and I wish he could have finished the book.
1. Be Competitive. (Hate to lose more than you love to win)
2. Be Strong (for others)
3. Be Compassionate
4. Be Loving
5. Be Honest
6. Be Morally Strong
7. Do Not Be Holier-Than-Thou
8. Learn Patience
9. Be Fair
10. Be Consistent
11. Learn from Mistakes
12. Listen to Advice
13. Be Compliant
14. If You Don’t Like It, Don’t Do It

I tend to write this, but why not write it again. Life is way too short to waste it doing things that don’t matter. Find your passion and do it. Make memories that mean something. If something is holding you back, fix it. Love the people who love you and care about you and forget about the people who don’t. Take time to take in all the good things happening around you.

*One more thing: EXIST in photos. I was so focused on photographing him with my family because of all the things he was going through and never knowing what could happen, that I really don’t have many images of me with him. EXIST.