Realizing Your Greatness During Bad Times

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

"Grief is never something you get over. You don't wake up one morning and say, 'I've conquered that; now I'm moving on.' It's something that walks beside you every day. And if you can learn how to manage it and honor the person that you miss, you can take something that is incredibly sad and have some form of positivity." ~ Terri Irwin

Today marks 8 years since my dad died.

And it still feels like yesterday.

8 years may seem like a LONG time. But when you lose someone of this magnitude, time holds no meaning. I can still remember getting that call, finding out that he was gone. He was only 61.

But I also remember his laugh, his deep voice calling me "Marce" and the gap between his two front teeth. I remember his smile and how he always looked at me with such pride. I was his only daughter, his oldest child and I was a reflection of him through my personality and spirit. 

I have his eyes, nose and chin. I inherited his love for baseball and the gift of gab. When he walked into a room, he owned it in a way where people were drawn to him and his light. He had kind eyes but a strong presence. He was simply, a quiet storm and anyone who has ever met him, never forgot him.

He always left a lasting impression wherever he went.

I cherished those times we'd spend hours walking around Home Depot, him showing me various tools and giving me tips or how-to's on building things from shelves to even installing my own light fixtures.

I lived for our movie moments... he exposed my brother and I to the art of cinema and we watched everything from old spaghetti westerns to action movies. He'd take us to the triple feature in Times Square where my brother and I fell in love with old school kung fu flicks from the Shaw Brothers.

Every Easter, he would make my brother and I sit through King of Kings, which was one of his favorite Biblical films. At the time, we were so annoyed (that movie is LONG) but now every Easter, I watch it with a new appreciation. 

My dad loved music... some days he'd be rocking out to some Jimi Hendrix and some days, he'd be sitting in the dark, listening to Barbra Streisand. I still cry when I hear the Commodores' Easy because I can hear his deep voice singing along to it. 

I miss talking to him the most. He was my mentor and advisor. He always knew the right things to say or do. And he reminded me of my greatness. So when he died, I felt lost. How was I to move on if he wasn't here in the physical sense. Who would help guide me on my life's journey?

Through loss (my brother would die 3 years later and then my oldest niece, his daughter, would die 7 years later), I was forced to find my voice on my own and realize my greatness. And that is a gift my dad left behind for me that is more valuable than anything else.

I'm sure he knew I would be okay without him and I would not be shocked to find out that that was part of his final thoughts as he laid in pain on the side of the NJ Turnpike, 12 miles out of the Lincoln Tunnel.

But I had to learn that on my own. I learned that I'm stronger than I ever thought I was. And I learned that it is possible to realize your greatness during bad times.

I've been through A LOT in the last 8 years. But I have also accomplished a lot. I continue to hear his voice in my ear, edging me along on this path. Now I have my brother pushing me and my niece.

It's not easy but I commit to taking it one day at a time. I'm still mourning my niece who has only been gone 7 months and sometimes it is overwhelming to grieve for 3 people. But I push through.

So on this day, I cry, I feel so heartbroken and I'm so sad. But I also feel hopeful and proud of how far I have come. I know he is proud of me. Grief is something that holds no timetable and it's a different journey for everyone. I try to stay focused on channeling my grief into something positive. Some days I am a mess and some days, I am winning. 

But one thing I do know, I'm still standing. My heart hurts. But I am still here.

I love you, Daddy. And I miss you very much. You will never be forgotten.

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