Please note…this got super personal and a little bit more intense than I had intended. With that being said I feel so much better after typing it and decided I want to share it anyway. It’s a great discussion in how words can stick with you.
If you guys follow me on here you know that I love a good first line to a book. I love the way just one sentence can set the tone and suck you in without much more than a few words. I love that feeling of reading that first line and knowing that I am in for a great read.
First lines are similar to first impressions; both very important. Think about it, the first time you meet someone and talk to them they form an opinion on you (yes, everyone does this and if you say that you don’t then you’re lying). Obviously opinions can be changed, but whatever that person things of you after that first impression is a big deal, and to make that opinion change can be very tough.
But what about last words? Think of the last line of a book. The last line sums it up (or leaves you completely hanging if you are in a series). The last line is closure. The last line makes it final. If it’s not the best last line then do you really feel sold on the book?
In real life last words matter. We read them all the time. I think there are actual books of famous last words. And if the last words that someone says before they die aren’t that great, then we tend to judge the person even though they are no longer with us.
What about last conversations? How much do those matter?
To me, a last conversation is something that I treasure. Forever. It’s something I look back upon during moments of struggle. It gives me strength.
Last year I wrote a post on this day about my dad. I shared with you 13 memories of my life with him, because I was having a really hard time dealing with it. Writing down those memories helped me feel like I had shared him with the world, like I have always wanted to. I have so many people in my life that I would love for him to meet, kind of including my own husband (ok, he knew my husband when we were kids but I feel like that’s a little different).
This year has been difficult. I have had a year with some ups and many downs, and there were so many times I wish I could just run to my dad like I did as a kid. My parents were notorious for making crappy situations better as a kid, and I though I have talked to my mom plenty and she has helped me out I still have this longing to run to my dad. It has gotten to the point where I have been having dreams about him being alive right now (and that is not fun to wake up from). So this year I want to write again. Because I want to remind myself what it is that I am doing, and what it is that I am trying to accomplish.
I want to be the person that deserves the last words that he spoke to me.
My dad had been sick all summer long, but the beginning of August 2002 he was officially diagnosed with cancer. Within days of the diagnosis intense treatments were started. This started our month of emergency room trips, hospital stays, and other general scares as we tried to cope with my dad being this sick and us doing whatever we could to make it better.
I remember one day, about a week before he passed, I came down to the TV room and started watching baseball with him. The Minnesota Twins were always on our TV that summer. Baseball was my dad’s favorite sport; the Twins his favorite team (I apologize for their unfortunate playing this season dad). I spent a lot of time watching them play that year with him, and it was always fun. It became one of the few moments that we were able to do something together and bond, because he really didn’t have the energy for much else. On this particular day we started talking. At this point school was starting up. My sister was entering public school for the first time, and I had joined the 8th grade volleyball team. He and I talked about what was going on at school, the things I was busy with, the Twins game, and his sickness. That last one was not exactly a subject my 13 year old self was super pumped to talk about, so I don’t really remember a lot of that. But this day I remember him stopping and looking me in the eyes. He started talking about me and how I was handling all of these big life changes and scary moments. He said “Emily, you have been such a brick during this whole situation. I am so proud of you and I love you.”
Now I am sure we talked a little bit more after that, but the next day while I was at school he was taken in to the emergency room, the day after that he went into a coma.
Today I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around that sentence. My dad would tell my siblings and I that he was proud of us when we did something to be proud of. He wasn’t one to hide his feelings or anything like that. He wanted us to know that we were loved. But it’s that first part, the part about being a brick. I remember those few weeks from diagnosis to death. I refused to cry in front of my dad. Is that an oldest kid thing? I have no idea, but I refused to do it. That’s not to say that I wasn’t scared out of my mind, but I would go cry in my room by myself before crying in front of him about his sickness. I couldn’t do that to him. I had been helping out even more around the house. Helped out even more with my siblings and was taking on a whole new school year. I guess I did give off the impression of brick-like strength. And to hear him tell me that…it just made me want to prove myself more. This attitude of proving myself went until the day he died, and the brick started to crack just a little bit.
Through all the ups and downs in my life my brain always circles back to that comment. I think about the girl that my dad saw when his life was flipped upside down and the strength he saw in me at that moment. Do I still have that strength? Can I still get that strength? I remember what he saw and I strive to still be that person.
I hope that today, and any other day that seems tough, I can be brick strong.
So today I am going to surround myself with some of his favorite things. Crank some Led Zeppelin, watch a baseball game, eat a Hershey’s bar and then try to cleverly make it look like I didn’t eat it and offer it to my husband (yeaaaaa, my dad and I used to play that “joke” on each other all the time. I was a real funny kid guys), jam to some Petra, maybe watch Princess Bride and quote along with it. I am going to surround my stuff that is very much my dad.
Whoa, so sorry. That got way more intense than I would like. Here’s some fun stuff to end it with…
My dad did a killer Grover impression. As I was looking something else up this popped up and I just knew it was meant to be.
I love you so much dad. And I definitely miss you here down on Earth. Looking forward to the day that I see you again!
Is there anything that anyone has said to you that you, to this day, remember and think back to?