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I never missed an opportunity to tell you that I loved you...

kali shey

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(Reposted from my online journal, written April 2nd, 2008 at 10:17 pm - my father passed away on March 18th, 2008)

I couldn't write about this when it happened, because I couldn't accept it yet. It felt like a bad dream, it was so surreal. I still don't want to accept it, but I will probably feel that way for the rest of my life.

My father passed away on March 18th. He was only 62 (though he looked and acted about 45). He was on his way home from our house and he called me about 20 minutes before it happened. He was turning onto the highway from a well-traveled side road when another driver ran a red light and slammed into him on the driver's side, killing him instantly. My mother and I, not knowing yet what had happened, agreed to meet on opposite sides of the pass and look for him when he didn't come home. She found him, at the accident scene. The police were there, roads were closed, and he was still in his van, with a yellow tarp over his body. I was on the other side of the pass, 20 minutes away, unable to get to her because the road was closed, until a deputy came to get me and got me through the barricade. I asked him to stop before the accident, because I didn't want to see, and he agreed. Another officer brought my mom to meet me, around the corner from where it had happened. I could see yellow flashing lights from the clean-up crew, and blue and red flashing lights from the police cars in the distance. I can still remember her words over the phone to me as her voice changed and began to crack and break. She said, "It's him, it's him. Dad's dead".

I didn't want to believe it, and I called my little sister who was out of state at the time. I told her what she had said and that it could possibly be another van, since that particular model is very popular, even down to the paint color, so not to panic yet. She completely broke down, and breaking it to her hundreds of miles away was almost as difficult as hearing it myself. She packed a bag, raced to the airport, got a flight out and was here within 12 hours of my phone call.

At the funeral home, since most of his injuries were internal, he was in what they call 'viewable' condition, meaning we could view the body and have an open casket, if desired. I had seen him within an hour of his death, so I chose not to. I wanted to remember him the way he was when he was standing in my kitchen, alive and well, and smiling, playing with the dogs. My mother, sister, and my Dad's sisters elected to see him, mainly because they said they had to 'make sure it was him'. I understood that, but being in the next room and hearing my baby sister let out a shrieking, guttural sob was almost enough to make my legs give way beneath me. I never want to hear that sound come out of anyone again, as long as I live.

We all decided on cremation, for various reasons, and began planning the memorial service. It was beautiful. Hundreds of people came, the flowers were gorgeous and the stories people told were heartwarming and amusing. My sister and I decided to have a small amount of Dad's remains placed in keepsake cremation pendants, which are designed to hold cremation remains, a lock of hair, or dirt from the grave site. Mine looks like this..


My sister chose a silver heart. I will get into the strange happenings since receiving the pendant at a later date..

Prior to the service, we went to the sheriff's office to see the van, and I took pictures. I wasn't sure I would be able to do it, but a part of me needed to know what he went through in his last moments. There wasn't a lot of blood, due to the type of injuries he suffered. I took many, many photographs, for the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit if we decide to file one. That decision will depend on whether the DA decides to charge the other driver with vehicular manslaughter, in which case he will (hopefully) end up in jail. At the accident scene, there were no skid marks on the pavement, indicating that the other driver didn't even bother to try to stop. There were many witnesses, all of whom said it was the other driver, not my father, who ran the red light, and in fact, ran it well after the other light had turned green. The other driver, age 69, was not injured in the accident.

People ask if I am having trouble sleeping since his death. I tell them I don’t have trouble sleeping.. I have trouble being awake. I see people on the roads now, driving like crazy, always in a hurry, and instead of thinking ’what an a**hole’ or flipping them the finger, I get angry, and very sad. I think to myself that someone like that, someone who couldn’t be troubled to stop for a red light, is the reason my Dad isn’t here now for me to call when I have a bad day (or a good one), to forward a funny email to, to bring me Gatorade and movies when I’m sick, to tell me it’s going to be ok when I’m down, or just to hug me and tell me he loves me, something he did often while he was alive. I wonder if the man who killed him has children, sons or daughters, and what it felt like to have to tell them that he took someone else’s father away.

At the funeral, there were so many stories, so many tears, so many wonderful people who loved him and whose lives will never be the same. The things I loved about my Dad, his integrity, his compassion, his zest for life and infectious smile, the practical jokes and the way he took care of everyone, always ready to help in any way he could, these were things hundreds of other people also cherished. You begin to believe, when you are close to someone, that only you and others that close can properly appreciate them. What a wonderful thing to find out that everyone, even people who only met him a handful of times, also noticed and appreciated those qualities. My father was not a perfect man, but he was a good one, and he was a perfect Dad. And, as devastated as I am that he is no longer a phone call away, I have so many wonderful memories to look back on, something not every person can say about their father. He loved us, my sister and I, his ’Girls’, he loved our mother, his siblings and his extended family, something we never had to question because he told all of us, all the time.

My father was my hero, my best friend, a trusted authority on almost every subject under the sun, someone I could laugh with and the only person I could cry in front of, and the person I trusted with anything and everything. We talked every day, usually multiple times a day, and even within an hour of his death. I had just written a tribute to him in one of my classes, and last Christmas, when someone asked me what I ’wanted’, I had said I wanted to freeze time so that my Dad wouldn’t get any older and he could be with me forever. I hadn’t known, at that time, just how little we had left to spend together.

I miss you, Dad, more than you will ever know. I never missed an opportunity to tell you that I loved you, and I am so thankful for every memory, for every silly moment, for every day you were alive, and I know that, even in death, you are watching over all of us, sending messages through license plates and mysteriously fixing a leak in the Jeep that we could never find before, no matter how hard we tried. It is heartbreakingly difficult to accept the tragic death of someone who never missed an opportunity to truly live. You will live on in the stories and memories of the family and friends you held so dear. We will never forget you.


(Reposted from my online journal, written October 18th, 2008)

Today is 7 months.

I still reach for my phone before I remember. I still feel like I've been hit by a truck when I do. I still think I can go visit him, and he'll be in the garage, smiling at me as I pull up. I still can't wait to tell him so many things, stupid little things that mean nothing... except now, they mean everything, simply because I can no longer say them.

I have to look at pictures to see his face now, a man of such life and expression, reduced to poses in front of water falls, family photos, birthdays, with none of the in between. It's the in between that I miss the most. The everyday.

No day would have been the right day. No amount of time would have been enough. But I wasn't ready for this. I watch old videos or see old pictures, and I'm jealous of the girl in those photos... the girl who still has her Dad. I want my life back. I want his life back.

I want to keep going and I want to stop feeling like all that means is waiting for it to be over, so I can see him again.

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It is now 2011. Over 3 years have passed since I wrote that. On the one hand, it feels like forever since I've seen him or talked to him, and on the other hand, it feels like no time has passed. My grief has not gotten better.. I have just gotten more used to the pain.

I cannot concentrate anymore. I am on antidepressants. My father was killed during finals week of my first term of college. I started college late (at 30 years old)... I remember agonizing over whether I should even bother the year prior because I was about to be 30, and he said "You're going to be 30 either way... what have you got to lose?" He was really proud of me for going back. Now I feel completely lost.

My other family members and I, although I love them, have a complicated relationship. That's all I really want to say right now... but I may get into that later. For many years (and up until his death) he was the only 'family' I felt I had, making his death even more complicated and confusing. My younger sister has since had a baby (my nephew is 6 months old now) and things are better between us, but no one will ever replace Dad. He was unique in his capacity for truly unconditional love, compassion and encouragement.

People expect me to be okay now, because it's been 3 years. I'm not okay, and I am starting to wonder if I will ever be okay again. I feel stalled, like I am wandering around in limbo somewhere waiting for a taxi to take me out of hell. I was going to write a book... I was going to be done with my Associate's degree by now... instead, I am strangled and held hostage by grief. I don't know if I can even finish school at this point, because my ability to concentrate is completely shot.

This is my first time on a support forum like this. I feel horrible reading the stories people have posted, having lost their loved ones so recently. I remember that time, right after... at least I have become accustomed to the pain. It is no longer an invading stranger, but a fixture in my life now. My heart goes out to everyone here, regardless of how long since their loss. I know that the pain never really goes away.

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I'm so sorry for your loss.I feel your pain & I know how alone you feel in your own sad little world ,still mourning your loss,while the rest of the world has forgotten that our loved ones ever existed & just moved on.They don't understand why we can't do the same.

When you lose a parent who also happened to be your best friend it's unbearable.It's like you lose your foundation, the source of your strength & courage.The world suddenly seems so empty & meaningless.Whenever I was feeling down,I'd just go to her,she'd hug me,stroke my hair & say it's ok,don't worry, you're strong enough to get through this,I know you are & suddenly I'd feel so much better.I know we all think that our parents were great people but few of us are actually blessed with truly remarkable ones.My mom was selfless,generous,kind & compassionate with a smile that could wash all your sadness away.

It's been over 2 months and I still can't get through the day without crying.Every inch of the house holds so many memories.I still can't bring myself to put up pictures of mom around the house,too painful to look at,a constant reminder of our irreplaceable loss.Everything in the house reminds me of her.I try my best to be brave but I still breakdown about a dozen times a day.When I think how I'll never see her sweet face,that kind smile,hear her gentle voice or hug and kiss her again,first I feel utter disbelief followed by uncontrolable tears & a silent panic attack.It takes me several seconds to catch my breath again.I just wanna lie down on floor & throw a tantrum like a 3 year old,crying" I want my mommy".

Everywhere I look I keep seeing mothers & daughters,laughing,enjoying life,making memories.I cry whenever I go outside since it brings back so many memories of mom,the stores where we used to shop,places where we used to eat,the things we used to laugh at together.I still cry at every little thing that reminds me of her.

I've read all of your posts.You are an amazing writer.You've a gift.You remind me so much of my sister.My sister & were our mom's caregivers.While I took care of most of the household chores ,my sister was my mom's nurse,incharge of her meds,physiotherapy & all other needs.She was her constant shadow,had dedicated her heart ,soul & all for the past 2 years to making her well again.Now that mom's gone she feels so lost,like she's lost a battle by unfair means & can't bring herself to admit defeat.She's even more devasted by her death than me.

My dad has been on antidepressants for more than a year now. I've talked to my sister about antidepressants to help her. She told me that talking to a stranger (psychitiatrist) won't help her 'cause he doesn't know what she's been through,all she needed was to talk to me, to help her process all the doubts & questions in her head so that she can finally get some closure. All antidepressants have several side effects & the one that frightens me the most is reduction in bone mass density leading to osteoporosis.My sister & I are already at a genetic disadvantage since both our maternal & paternal grandmothers had it,so did my mom & all her sisters.

Moreover meds dull your senses & my sister has always been a very creative person just like our mom,just like you.She can design,draft,stitch,sew ,enbroider,crochet,knit,draw & paint, knows tatting ,doll making ,flower making & various other handcrafts.Though I can do all of the above she is exceptionaly gifted.I'm sending you some pics.of her works as an example,all done by hand.I've a closet & a storage room filled with hundreds of our projects together.I guess to be a creative genius you also have to be sensitive,emotional,temperamental with a touch of crazy & she is all of the above.When she starts something she forgets to eat ,sleep & wouldn't give up until she is done.Mom was her special project.The 2 of them were very close.

Though my sister & I are both science teachers we always wanted to have a clothing store of our own,may be a little boutique.She is an awsome designer & I do a decent job at drafting & stitching.Together we make a great team.We've had various people asking us where we got the clothes we're wearing,if we made clothes professionally & if we would consider making something for them on order. We always laugh & say,No we're not professionals ,we just do this as a hobby.Lately I've been encouraging her to take up her hobbies again. It requires going through a lot of her craft supplies,bringing back old memories, plans & tears .But when she's working on one of her projects she looks so much at peace & I get a glimpse of her old self.

I hope you too find the strength to go back to what you love,finish school & write books,just like you always wanted.You'll be awesome at it.I know it's so hard to do & feels nearly impossible right now,but do what I do,try to imagine what your dear dad would've wanted for you.How happy & proud would it have made him to read your first book,dedicated to him.I can hardly tell you what to do as I'm struggling myself,but please try to dig deep inside you & find the courage to do so.Don't give up on your dreams & please don't let such a great talent go to waste.Keep writing ,we're all listening.





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Thank you so much. It's strange how sharing these emotions and encouraging words with total strangers can be so comforting and uplifting.

You and your sister do some very beautiful work! I do believe that creativity is helpful to the healing process. I find it is sometimes hard to access that part of me (especially writing, since that is what I was doing when he passed away) and it is very hard to stay focused a lot of the time. I was told this would pass, but it doesn't seem to be changing much. I want to write a book about grief and how people handle it, because some of the responses I got from family and friends after this happened were really appalling. I think it is such an individual process for everyone, and that should be respected.

Thank you again for your kind words and for sharing your story with me. I am always here if you need to talk (and that goes for anyone here).

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