Life Changing Moments

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When I was six years old, my world was changed forever. Not as a result of the “I lost my teddy bear” or “I outgrew my favorite dress up clothes” kind of changes – though those are no doubt impactful – but I experienced the “I no longer have two living parents” type of life alteration. It was July 3, 2005 and to this day, it remains the most terrifying day of my life. I remember chaos, tears, and a feeling that something wasn’t quite right –  who knew my six-year-old self was capable of detecting such emotions so deeply.

            I hadn’t even begun first grade and yet my life felt like it was at a standstill; an utter and complete stop. Much like a midlife crisis…forty-five years too early. Prior to that day, I was a shy kid– the kind of shy people come to perceive as muteness…I even used to cry when my turn came for our daily class performance of “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar.” However, after my dad’s passing, I grew even more quiet. With my best friend now gone, it was my mom, my six-week old sister, and I against the world, with our closest family over 300 miles away – and I didn’t know what was going to become of my life. I don’t remember much of what occurred that summer after the funeral, nor do I remember much of my sister’s first year milestones – but I’ve no doubt emerged from the experience a person I may never have become otherwise. I was forced to grow up much earlier than most – not because my mother forced me to, but because of the circumstances I found myself in. There’s a certain response people (and animals) have in regards to stressful or scary situations: it’s called the Fight or flight response. For me, the outcome was a fight in the form of stepping up and taking on more responsibility.

            Though I’d much rather have my dad than maturity, growing up early has had its definite perks; the most exhilarating one being the moment new people find out my age (in a setting other than school) and explain how much older they thought I was. My dad’s passing itself has given me a new outlook on life – aside from the “life is short” mentality, which is without a doubt one of the truest statements ever recorded: my dad was 30. My new outlook consists of a lens I like to call “How can nobody see what I’m seeing,” and It’s something that came with the grown up sense of life. This lens allows me to see into the depths of souls – well it feels that way sometimes. This lens gives me power and comfort in knowing that observant and perceptive enough to see through lies and view individuals as they are. I’m not saying this lens allows me to read minds or will help me become a top notch detective someday, but it’s most definitely a piece of me that I can’t imagine not having.

            Everyone loses a parent at some point – it’s just the nature of life – but that loss is one so great a pain that I would never wish it on another, especially a six-year-old girl who looks up to her father with so much admiration that her sixteen-year-old version strives to be the great mind he was. Losing my dad at such a young age has made me all the more grateful for what I’m given and how long it remains in my life. I’ve never told my mom I hate her – the thought hasn’t even ever crossed my mind. Sometimes I worry when I don’t hear from my loved ones for extended amounts of time. I’ve seen firsthand the will and perseverance it takes to raise two young children as a single-parent and I only hope to have the same determination as a mother to my own future children someday.

I haven’t felt like a true “kid” since that summer back in ’05 and I don’t know that I ever will. Growing up hits us all at different times in our lives; for some, it’s becoming an older sibling, for others it’s college, and still for others of us, it’s the loss of someone we couldn’t ever imagine life without. I was one of those unfortunate bunch. I can’t deny that I am who I am today because of my past – it’s part of what makes me truly me – but I’d do anything to see my dad again.

 

-Show not tell → share some moments

– Get specific

– Actions from my mother

– Snapshot of me and my dad

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