It wasn't until he died that I truly knew what a greatfather, friend and human being he was. I had a wonderful family, with twobrothers, a sister and two parents who loved each other very much. I neverthought anything bad could happen to them or me. As the youngest of four, Ipretty much always got my way; maybe I was a little spoiled. I had just startedeighth grade and was playing soccer on the weekends. The best part was having mydad as coach. He was great, making it to every practice and game despite hisdemanding job.
My life took a turn, though, on October 16, 1997. My fatherwas taken from me in a matter of minutes. He and I were coming back frombasketball tryouts, and having a great time telling each other about our day. Wegot home, I finished my homework and proceeded to go to bed. My dad wasn'tfeeling well, but you would never have known because he never complained. He cameinto my room to say good night and that he would see me in the morning. It feltlike any other night.
At midnight I woke to see an ambulance out front. Irushed out of bed to find my dad having a heart attack in our family room. Inever felt so sick in my life. My own father, in perfect health, was having aheart attack. The thought that had never passed my mind before was a reality. Theparamedics kept telling me he would be okay, but I couldn't believe them. As mydad left the house on a stretcher, I thought this might be my last time seeinghim alive, so I yelled, "I love you." My father looked so scared, butgave me a little wave. Hours went by and we didn't know anything. Finally, my momcame home and told us the doctors just couldn't save him. I felt as though mylife had ended - I had nothing to live for. I was in total shock. I couldn't evenlook at my mom, brothers or sisters. I didn't want to see them crying. The firstfew days were really hard, but my family and I got through. We knew Dad wasgiving us strength.
It has been three years and I have been able to go on,but I would not be here today if it weren't for my family, especially my mom. Shehas shown me and my siblings unconditional love through it all, and we havesurvived a tragedy. I miss my dad so much I sometimes just want to crawl into ahole and never come up. But I know I have to keep going - my dad would want meto. My dad will never see me go to my prom or graduate, but what really kills meis that my dad will never walk me down the aisle. This will be so hard when thattime comes, but I know he will be there in spirit. I always remember that eventhough I don't have my dad physically, he is with me every day.
I willnever forget the impact my dad had on me. He taught me so much about life and howto live it. I look back at my memories of him; they are gifts to last a lifetime.If I could say anything to my dad today I would tell him thanks not only forbeing my dad, but also my hero and role model. Not everyone is so lucky to have afather like mine, but if you are, appreciate the time you have with him becausenobody can predict the future. In my town there is a memorial to my father withthis inscription:
to win the respect ofintelligent people and the
affection of children;
to earn theappreciation of honest critics and
to endure the betrayal of falsefriends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave theworld a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden path or a
redeemed social condition;
To know that one life breathed easierbecause you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.