It’s hard to believe that I lost my dad fifteen years ago at the mere age of 15. It shattered my world and definitely changed my life path. I was devastated, lost and very confused. Kind of strange to think I've lived more without my dad than with him as he is still such a part of my life.
You see, my dad was my BEST friend and my strong foundation. I struggled with learning disabilities, muscle weaknesses and whatever the diagnosis at the moment was, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Asperger’s and more. I was in “special ed”, psychical therapy and speech therapy during my younger days. It was my dad who never gave up on me, giving me amazing opportunities like teaching me how to ski, scuba dive, and the power of knowledge through reading and through that encouragement, I developed a deep love for books.
I fell apart after his death. He spent so much of his time encouraging me, teaching me and loving me in spite of my many challenges. I think now maybe he saw some of himself in me. He too struggled with math, had problems citing the alphabet and fought against anxiety everyday.
Today, I wonder how different my life would be with him still in it? Who would I be as he is so much a part of who I am. Do I struggle at times with that same anxiety?
Do I question what is in this life worth living for? Do I still grieve? The answer is Yes, yes and yes. I often wonder, where do I belong? When you struggle with learning disabilities yet speak fluent Chinese, are an expert in religion, the instincts of a lion and the wisdom beyond my years there is still the mental health part that always gets in the way.
My anxiety is real. It is not something that I chose. I have found meditation to work for me, without it – it would be debilitating. The workplace is difficult as people are very judging; I have sleeve tattoos, yet am extremely articulate and they often wonder why I have struggled to find jobs. When I have found good jobs, anxiety usually wins. My anxiety causes me to be very impulsive. The impulsivity has had me just walk out. To me, there is a reason – when a co-worker walks up to you, 15 years after your dad dies and says to you, “you know your dad’s in hell for killing himself.” If I didn’t walk out at that moment, I could’ve punched him. Those are the things that are still said. The pain never goes away. Do I have happy moments? Of course, and I thank my mom for recognizing the need for unconditional love because if I did not have her and that love, along with the determination to fight against an illness that has won in several generations on my father’s side, I may not be here.
I keep fighting for me, and I see it as an accomplishment I know would make my dad proud as both of us can’t leave mom in the same way.
So dad, today and everyday I think of you and am reminded of your encouraging words on a daily basis. I miss you and as mom says, "Love Never Dies - it gets stronger." I will continue to fight to find my way to beat this terrible illness that took you away from me way too young. It is because of you, I am who I am even though I do not see you, I feel you. Feeling you is better than not having you at all.
by Chase Woodrick