There are certain times of year that are always hard for me, and Father’s Day is one of them.
I lost my father to pancreatic cancer when I was 20-years-old.
Loss is unfair, unforgiving, and quite honestly it sucks. I’ve learned it’s important to turn that heartbreak into something positive. Here are nine lessons I’ve learned since my father passed away.
Every day is a gift
Although a cliché, I treat it like the law. My family’s life was flipped upside down in a moment, and none of us saw it coming. My strong healthy father passed away from pancreatic cancer three and a half years ago. His prognosis was four months. He lived 16. His will to live every day and courageously fight for his life gave him and our family the beautiful gift of time. Don’t waste one second of it.
Happiness is a choice
If my dad had a catchphrase it would be this. He lived with the mentality that “happiness is a choice,” and after his death I found it hard to be happy. His words echo in my head every day, and every day when I wake up I choose to be happy to honour him.
It’s ok to feel sad
Yes, it’s ok to feel sad. After my dad’s diagnosis I didn’t know what to think, or do, or feel, so I turned to a friend who had recently lost his brother. He told me not to hold it in. Don’t be afraid to feel.
A smile goes a long way
Some days were tougher than we could have imagined. Whenever someone in my family sensed we were sinking, we all would count out loud “1, 2, 3,” and then smile as big as we could. It always ended with us laughing through the hardest times.
Think about your loved ones every day
I think about my dad every day. I want to call him on my way home from work to tell him about the new position I got, how I need his golf expertise when I keep shanking my drives to the right, that I want to introduce him to my amazing friends and boyfriend. Knowing he won’t see my sister and brother-in-law welcome their daughter into the world or see me get married is a tough pill to swallow. However, I find peace in the fact that I have 20 years of unforgettable memories.
Hold on to the memories
Ever since I was a toddler, everyone said I looked like my dad. And although I didn’t like hearing that back then because I thought it meant I looked like a boy, now I love that I have his eyes, smile, and even his crooked nose. He lives through my sister’s mannerisms, my brother’s humour, my killer dance moves, and my mum’s unconditional love.
Parents are also people and they can be vulnerable
My parents have always been my rocks, my unwavering pillars. When my dad got sick my parents exhibited superhuman strength and bravery, but I also saw a new vulnerable side to them that showed me that they are people too. I became even more appreciative of all the things my dad had done for our family. From working crazy hours to dancing his heart out to win the “Best Dancing Dad” award at the Father-Daughter dance, he truly was the best. The people who put their lives aside for yours, your needs before theirs, will one day need to you to be the person there for them.
Be good to your friends
My dad preached the importance of being good to your friends because he knew one day that you will need them more than you ever realised. To all the amazing friends who kept my family fed, gave us rides, sat with us, ran errands, created a charity in my dad’s honour, I’m eternally grateful.
You can’t possibly say “I love you” too much
If you love someone let them know. All. The. Time. When my father died I was heartbroken, but because of him I know that no matter how much your heart breaks, it’s important to continue to love. Love you to the moon and back, dad, Happy Father’s Day.
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