– Cassandra Velez-Noble, California
I am writing this story because my friend Stephanie asked me to. It’s taken me nearly 2 months to write because…well it hasn’t been an easy one for me to put into so many words.
On February 9, 2009 my entire world changed when I lost my father.
Well, I lost the only man I’ve ever known as my father. The man who raised me from the time I was 2 years old. The only man whom I’ve ever called “Daddy”.
Father’s day passed not too long ago and I can’t say that it’s easy seeing everyone’s Father Day posts on social media. Other dates that are difficult for me are February 9 (mentioned above) and April 6 (His birthday.) Christmas is hard too but Thanksgiving is probably the worst. Thanksgiving was his holiday. He’d make the turkey. He’d make us say what we’re thankful for. We’d stuff our faces and have turkey tacos the next day. I always enjoyed turkey tacos.
Losing a loved one is….almost indescribable. The pain is a kind of pain that digs deep into your soul. It takes a piece of your heart because you feel, you know, that a huge chunk of your world is now gone. Vanished. Never to return. The only thing left is echoes. Memories.
I remember it as a coldness. On the day I lost him I felt so very cold. To my bones cold like I would never be warm again. My heart broke in a way I never knew it could.
I was a daddy’s girl. My younger sisters and I were daddy’s girls. He had our names tattooed on his wrist like a bracelet. He was overprotective. He would tell us (jokingly, I think) that we weren’t allowed to date until we were 35. I remember how upset he was when he realized we were starting to like boys. He had a loud booming voice and seemed to make friends everywhere. He used to always tell the same story as often as he could. The story was “I asked God to surround me by beautiful women. God must have had a sense of humor because the beautiful women he surrounded me with are my daughters.”
It’s so weird losing a loved one unexpectedly because well…it’s unexpected. He was so safe and secure in our world. I remember that night he told us goodnight. I never in a million years would have imagined that we’d lose him the next morning.
Sometimes I dream that he’s still here. In my dreams he’s just on vacation, in jail, or at his own place because he and my mom got divorced. (They didn’t divorce. She’s still his widow.)
To be honest, even though it’s been over 6 years I still have some rough days. I miss him so much. There’s been so many events I wish he could have been here for: my high school and college graduations, my sisters’ high school graduations, the birth of my nieces, etc. I’m not engaged yet, but I really would have liked it if he could have walked me down the aisle.
Even though losing my father was the worst thing I’ve ever faced in life so far, it showed me that I am so blessed to have such a supporting group of family and friends. Their outpouring of love truly kept me whole when I felt like breaking down.
I don’t want this to be an incredibly sad story, so I will begin to write some positive things. Even though losing my father was the worst thing I’ve ever faced in life so far, it showed me that I am so blessed to have such a supporting group of family and friends. Their outpouring of love truly kept me whole when I felt like breaking down. I remember Nancy being my first friend there at the hospital. She didn’t stay long, but I was glad she came. I remember when Maggie and Kandice came they took me to McDonalds. I was still in a state of shock. Everything felt so surreal. Kandice wrapped her arms around me and though I was sad I felt comforted. When I missed school, Rebecca and Lee came knocking on my door. We walked and talked. I don’t remember what we talked about. Maikia picked me up during lunch and drove me to McDonalds. I remember her being there to listen. I remember telling her how I felt angry, and I wanted to be mean and bitter at the world but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t.
I know that sometimes when we see someone we know has lost someone we don’t know what to do or say. All we can think of saying is “I’m sorry for your loss. You’ll be in my prayers.” I know that each person is different. Each person deals with grief in their own way. For me, I’m just really glad that I had friends who were there. Who showed they care. It makes me feel better knowing that I’m not alone.
So how does a young 17 year old girl cope with the death of her father? Well, I already mentioned the love of friends. I’m not going to deny it though, the love of God also helped me in the process. Some may read this and believe that my faith in God is just a crutch. That believing in a higher power and a life ever after is just a lie to myself. Maybe so. Maybe so but I can tell you that without God I don’t know where I would be I remember I would go to the altar to pray and I would feel this warm feeling in my chest. I know how my heart felt. I know how broken I was, but He kept me from being the worst version of myself.
He’d tell everyone that we were going to be rich and take care of him one day. He never once tried to crush our dreams. He never told us we couldn’t do something. He believed in us in the best possible way. I wasn’t even his biological daughter, yet he loved me like I was.
I like to believe that my dad is watching over me in heaven and that he’s proud of the accomplishments I’ve made so far. He used to ask me how I fit so much stuff in my brain. He used to be so proud when we would bring home good grades. He’d tell everyone that we were going to be rich and take care of him one day. He never once tried to crush our dreams. He never told us we couldn’t do something. He believed in us in the best possible way. I wasn’t even his biological daughter, yet he loved me like I was. I loved him like he was.
One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
I can’t say that things magically get better. I’ll never wake up one day and be like, “Okay. That’s it. I’m done grieving.” I know a part of me will always grieve the loss of my father. I know that I’ll always miss him. Yet I also know that the world doesn’t stop spinning. Life goes on, and that is wonderful. Utterly, completely wonderful.
With every day that I live, every choice I make, I hope I’m turning into the kind of woman my dad would be proud of.