My Dad Chose Suicide

Some of my Dad’s loves: His garden and his gun trophies. I remember this day. He had gotten home from his shooting competition one Saturday. He gave me the camera and asked me to go outside with him so he could get a picture of himself holding his cherished trophy in front of his cherished garden. I laughed a little thinking, “Dad, why do I have to do this?! It seems silly!” I am so happy I went along with that silly picture. Now I cherish it. He was so happy. It breaks my heart that he wasn’t happy the last months of his life.

‘Committed Suicide’ does not sit right with me. I have never been able to say that phrase. Just like we make choices in life, my dad made the awful, heartbreaking choice to end his life.

We have free agency in this life. We make choices everyday. Good or bad, we make them. Our parents hope we make the right decisions. I hope my kids can make good choices in life. But the way we learn is to add some bad choices in this life. We can learn from our mistakes. I believe my dad knew he made the wrong choice but it was too late. Did he just make that split second choice to end his life? He got the gun from the safe, leaving it open. That makes me believe it was quick, without much thought. But had he gotten the gun and tried before? We don’t know. But I feel in my heart he didn’t mean to leave us.

I had a dream within a few weeks of my dads death. I was in the back of the church, singing hymns. I saw him appear behind the chairs. He was looking frantic, scared, and confused. It seemed like he didn’t know where he was. He was rushing around looking for me. While seeing him so distraught, I kept yelling for him, ‘Dad! Dad!! I am here!’ I was now frantically trying to get his attention. I kept yelling for him but he couldn’t hear or see me. No one else was able to see him but me. After a few minutes of us both panicking, wishing we would see and hear each other, my grandma appears like an angel above him. Almost like a portal opening up, I could only see her face and arm reaching out for him. She grabbed his outstretched arm and pulled him through the veil, so to speak. And then they vanished. Like a mothers love, she took him away from his pain. Guided him to safety of the afterlife. She had been waiting for him. It was almost like he was stuck. Frantically trying to find his way back to his body and this earthly life. I don’t think he realized how bad of a choice he made that day his soul left this Earth. Until it was too late.

The phrase, ‘committed suicide’ sounds so cold and sterile. Like a morgue in the hospital. Everyone walking around somber and sad. Oxford Languages states that the definition of committed is, ‘feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly committed.’ If I know anything about suicide, feeling dedication and loyalty to ending ones life does not describe the act of suicide! Yes, there are those that think about suicide a lot. It can consume them. I have been there. And I have witnessed my dad sad and depressed. Most people who are suicidal are trying to find ways to NOT think about it. They are trying to find happiness and help for their depression. They are definitely not feeling any love towards the thought of suicide! It’s like an unwanted entity that just floats around you. You just want it to leave. But it has its way of convincing you that suicide is the way to go. There’s no dedication to this awful, conniving entity.

So can we change it to, he chose suicide? I feel like that makes it more personal. In a compassionate way. Saying, ‘After dealing with cancer side effects for months, leaving him malnourished, skinny, and exhausted, he chose suicide.’ Doesn’t that give it some compassion? Or that it sounds like he is human? We are all human, meaning we all struggle and make mistakes. Some of those mistakes are from bad choices. But we as humans can repent and forgive ourselves, learn from our unhealthy choices, and hopefully learn to choose better for ourselves.

I will say this over and over. My dad tried to get help. He tried to make the right choices. But I don’t think he was equipped to know what to do when he had shameful struggles. I think most can relate. I am an open book when it comes to suicide and what my dad went through. But there’s other things in my life that I don’t feel I need to open up about. And that’s ok! But as long as we can have someone to confide in, share with, and learn how to climb these struggle mountains, then I think we are on the right track to making good choices for ourselves. Educate yourself. There’s a plethora of self help books, online counseling, and guidance online that can help us through our hard times. Do it for yourself to get help. You deserve it the most.

Hugs,

Sarah

When Grief hits HARD

I had a breakdown for the first time in years. Nothing like it except for those breakdowns in the first months after my dad’s death. I was a sloppy, snotty, heap of mess on my bedroom floor.

Some things are better off not talked about. Or so we think. I am admitting that I am human and my breakdown was ugly. But it was real, raw, emotional, and to be honest, much needed.

It was a hard day dealing with the actions of one of my kids. We are in the process of getting him help, but in the mean time, we are truly doing the best we can with the resources given to us. I am also in the process of trying, again, to get VA benefits for my mom that I feel is rightfully hers. It was an overwhelming day. A family member And I were discussing options, along with frustrations, and at one point in our conversation, he said, ‘you are fighting for your dad.’ I instantly felt a lump in my throat with tears to follow. I wiped away the tears and finished the conversation. I made sure my kids were content (they had their kindles, so they were content for awhile!) and I went to my room and locked the door. I immediately let it all out. I cried and sobbed. I was a rocking, ball of a mess on my bedroom floor. I felt so much heartache and loss at that moment. I felt the devastating hole of grief left in my soul. It was like I found out my dad died all over again. Between my sobs, I cried for my dad. I told him I wanted him here. I missed him so much! I just wanted to call him and chat with him.

I have a couple saved voicemails from him. I downloaded and saved them so I will always be able to hear his voice. I haven’t played them at all. I would lose it if I did. Finally, after 4 and a half years, I played them. The first voicemail was my dad calling me to see how my father in law was doing (he had recently had major back surgery at that time). I could hear the happiness in his voice. He loved my father in law. They were both navy veterans who served in Vietnam. My dad had so much compassion for people, dispite his gruff exterior. A gentle giant my father in law would say. I played that message a few more times. It felt so good to hear his voice. The next message wasn’t as chipper. This voicemail was a month or two before he passed. He was depressed and I could hear it in his voice. He was calling to just talk. He was so defeated at the end. He didn’t have a will you live. We all thought he would get better after his hormone shot wore off. There were so many If Only’s I started thinking about. If only he had patience and waited for his next drs appt. If only he would take depression medication. If only he would start feeling better.

During this ugly grief episode, I dropped to my knees to pray. I couldn’t even put into words what was going on in my head. I just didn’t know what to do anymore. So many thoughts coming back from those first vulnerable months. I was just asking for help. Help to get through this. Help to feel peace again. Help to ease my pain of missing him. Then I looked over at my phone, and saw that my sister was calling me. Thank goodness. It was good to hear her voice and to listen about her day.

Fast forward a couple days later. I was still feeling exhausted from my grief. I was burned out. I felt like my prayers weren’t answered. But I should know that God always answers our prayers, in His timing.

I had a spa day with friends. It was my best friends birthday. She tried getting us into different spas but they were booked. She finally found a spa we could all go too. As I am waiting for my massage, a familiar face peeks into the waiting room I was in, calling me for my massage. As soon as we both enter the hallway, we just stare at each other, smiling. Then we gave each other the biggest hug. It was my dad’s best friend’s ex wife. I grew up going to their garage to reload bullets with my dad, attend parties where my dad did his crazy seizure dance on the dance floor, swimming, and where I babysat her girls. She asked how is it that we are here at this moment, and she happens to be the one giving my massage?! I believe that was the answer to my prayers. We ended up talking the whole time about my dad and our families. It was so amazing to experience that moment.

Later that afternoon I got a call from my dads best friend. We talked about how bizarre it was that I got his ex wife of all people to give me a massage. He said he had even more bizarre details to add. He was in his garage, and put some music on that he hadn’t listened to for awhile. It happened to be my dad’s favorite song. He got to thinking about my dad and reminiscing about the fun times they had over the years. After awhile he ended up going through his phone contacts. He got to my dad’s number and decided to call it. Just on a whim. He probably wanted to hear his voice just like I did a few days previously. His daughter went to the garage to find him and said, ‘Guess who mom is massaging?! Sarah Bruska!’ What a bizarre chain of events! And this all happened at the same time, about 1:30 in the afternoon.

I think my dad knew we both needed to talk to someone about my dad. And laugh about the stories we had of him. I am grateful for that moment I had.

I don’t think we are meant to live in perfect harmony and peace the rest of our lives. I think we are meant to figure out who we are, what we stand for, and how to enjoy the little things. We will have many hardships in our lives. Past, present, and many in our future. It does not let up in this life. Sounds depressing. But to me, it sounds like an adventure. I am growing and evolving into this person God wants me to be and in this time we live in. We are all here for a purpose, in people’s lives for a reason, whether we understand it or not. Sometimes I have no idea why I have to go through hardships, or why others have to go through troubling times in their lives. I do know that it is apart of life and we have to learn to cope! How do we cope? Lean on others. Find a support system. Enjoy the little things that life does have to offer.

I will never stop fighting for my dad. I will continue to tell his story. He absolutely wouldn’t want others to suffer in silence like he did.

Hugs,

Sarah

Elderly Suicide, A Shocking Epidemic

Waiting to eat my birthday cake with my grandparents.

According to an article on AAMFT, “Older adults make up 12% of the US population, but account for 18% of all suicide deaths. This is an alarming statistic, as the elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population, making the issue of later-life suicide a major public health priority.” 

Wow. What is going on here? I never realized, before my dad, that so many elderly men and women are taking their lives. From most articles I’ve read, family members and those closest to the victims had no signs, no inclination that this could happen to their loved ones.

There is a growing number of suicides in senior group homes. They are feeling more depressed, more lonely, and less capable of doing things they used to do. My grandparents were put into a group home when I was young. We visited them almost every weekend. As I was getting into middle school, I didn’t really want to go see them. I thought it was boring, they never remembered who I was, and they thought I was a little child, bringing me stuffed animals. I cringe now, knowing that I had the wrong attitude. It was always a sad place. Many of them were in wheelchairs parked in front of the tv. Some couldn’t talk or use the restroom by themselves. Some did and said weird things. Looking back, I wish I would have gone more to see my grandparents, and talk with the other residents. They don’t get many visitors, if any at all. These are the people that raised us, provided for us, and helped us become healthy, happy adults. I wish I would have given them more of my time, getting to know them.

I think there’s so much hidden and underreported depression in the older populations. As we grow older, its physically harder to do the things we once enjoyed doing. That can make a person more home bound, more lonely. What can we do to help? Visiting with them. Even if its only for 10 minutes once a week. Call and check in. Maybe even send a letter or a card once a month, letting them know that we are thinking of them.

What can the older population do for themselves? Reach out when feeling depressed and lonely. No one needs to suffer in silence. There’s so many people that can help. Have a positive attitude. Get involved with senior events.

Don’t forget to reach out to your older neighbor, friend, and grandparents. They will appreciate it more than you will know.

Hugs,

Sarah

Perseverance

The definition of perseverance from Oxford languages states, “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” I feel like that’s the definition of life! Life is hard, difficult, frustrating. But we can not be fearful of those difficult times. It makes us stronger and gives us confidence to persevere over the next hurdle of life.

Enduring the trials in life is the hard part. But we have to understand that those tsunami waves of grief and trials will eventually die down. The storm will calm and so will we.

Being a mom to 7 kids 13 and under is not easy! People often ask me how remain so calm and how I am able to move on from what seems like difficult periods in our kids’ lives. Like sicknesses that just run through all our kids. Hospital visits. Heck, shopping with all of them! I’ve definitely been through a lot and learned a lot. We’ve dealt with (and continue to) deal with health problems that our kids are experiencing. One of our kids only has one kidney. Another was born with many unrelated birth defects. We’ve seen so many specialists. What I am trying to say is that it will all pass. We have always persevered and gotten through it. So I’ve learned to have patience and just take it for what it is. This trial soon shall pass. We have to look for those rays of sunshine. Even if it’s small. A walk in the park, drinking your favorite soda, going out with a friend. We will always have trials, that’s just the way of life. We can enjoy those sunshine moments and cherish them.

I’ve relied on Heavenly Father and my family and friends for support. Heavenly Father has never left my side. He is right next to me when that huge grief wave hits. He stands afar like a proud but protective Father during the calm waters of life. I see his inner workings in my life and others.

I am proud of my journey. I have learned and grown so much. I spoke about my dad’s suicide in church recently one Sunday. I never thought I could actually use the phrase over the pulpit, ‘my dad died by suicide’. I couldn’t even say that word the first couple years. I would cringe every time I hear the word (still do). But I felt confident enough to finally say it. Even though it’s taboo, it really shouldn’t be. It’s real. And it effects everyone and every denomination.

A friend posted a wise quote the other day. It said, “I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am fearless because I’ve been afraid. I am wise because I’ve been foolish”.

We all have to start somewhere. I have been weak, afraid, and foolish many times in my life. We are able to see our past and learn from it. I am no where near perfect, and we shouldn’t judge others that are on their own journey. If you’ve been knocked down from grief, depression, and other trials, then you know how hard it can be to experience those dark waves of life. So why not help others that you see are struggling. We shouldn’t have to suffer alone.

Hugs,

Sarah

Pictures of my Dad and I

I was going through pictures and needed to have a place for them that I can look back on. And if it’s digital, even better because then I won’t lose it. Ha!

We went on so many hikes and camped a lot. He loves the outdoors so much.

He was a hard worker.

He loved my sister and I and were so proud of us.

Miss you dad! I remember the last time I saw you and gave you a hug goodbye. It wasn’t the strong hug that I was used to. It felt weak and dreary. Probably how he was feeling too. Emmy ran up and gave him a hug. So sweet. If I would have known that was the last time I would see him, I don’t think I would have let go. I would have told him that I am grateful for him and all the sacrifices he made for us. I would tell him thank you for always supporting me and talking with me. I miss you! I wish I could call you and talk. I miss our chats.

Hugs,

Sarah

Family History and their Secrets

If I could go back in time and change my career and education (for the millionth time), I would become a genealogist and researcher. I’ve always been an old soul, interested in personal histories. When I was a kid, I found an old black and white picture of a dirt road that was in front of my grandparents house. Desert for miles and a an old road that looked abandoned. That old road is now Craig Road in Las Vegas. I displayed that picture on my desk, where I would think about what life was life back when the wild west was new. What made my family come out here? What struggles did they encounter? So very interesting to me.

My favorite hobby is researching family history. There are many secret, taboo, and interesting stories in my family genealogy. I have scoured newspaper articles and records, trying to confirm these secrets as true. I need to find the concrete evidence that these dark secrets are true!

Let’s start with my dad’s dad, Stanley. I could call him my grandpa, but I never met him and all the stories I heard about him were not nice. He (supposedly) was born in 1902 to polish immigrants. Legend has it (sounds like a mythical story here), he took his brother’s identity so he could join the military early. His brother was 11 years old when he died. The story goes that Stanley and his brother were out playing somewhere when his brother tragically died. Only Stanley knows the truth. Some say they were playing by the train tracks when he was hit and killed by a train. A document I found said that he drowned. Whatever the story is, I don’t think Stanley’s family ever forgave him. He left early to join the Navy. He had many marriages and divorces (so taboo in the early 1900’s!). 4 marriages and divorces from what I have found. He was known as a cheater. He had many kids from different marriages. My dad had a half brother and 2 half sisters. Stanley disowned my dad when he was older. My dad remembers the fighting between his mom and dad, and seeing his dad walk down that dirt road with a bag in hand headed for the highway. He didn’t have a dad that played catch or helped him with school. It was just my dad’s sister (who tragically died at the age of 12 after a fall while visiting Valley of Fire with their church), my grandma, and my dad’s aunt and uncle. He didn’t really have a father figure in his life. Not until my grandma met and married my grandpa Al (I am allowed to call him that, he was the grandpa I knew and loved). My dad was in his late teens and needed work on his car. My dad introduced the mechanic to my grandma and the rest is history. But there lies a secret too.

My Grandpa Al Leto was my favorite. When we lived with them for a short while, he would play tea parties with me outside. He teased me. He would listen to the baseball games on their large radio, and watch the spanish tv station. He taught me how to scrape every last drop from my ice cream bowl (pretty annoying sound to my parents I am sure). He loved spaghetti. He dressed up as Santa for Christmas. He always had a joke. He would give me stuffed animals when we later visited him in the rest home. He loved my dad as his own. He said he was Italian and was from Florida. He also said he never had kids and wasn’t married before. My research has proven that was a lie! (Insert Maury Povich voice). His name was Al Favata and Through my research, he was possibly connected with the mafia in Tampa. He was married and had 2 kids, yet later divorced. His parents were from Italy and worked in the cigar factories. He was a member of the local Italian club. Him and his brothers owned a mechanic shop. He served in WWII and worked on airplanes. The pictures I found of him and his brothers prove that it is him. There’s no denying it! But there’s no denying that he loved and respected my grandma. He loved my dad and would do anything for our family. So what made him leave Tampa in the 60’s? Was it a bitter divorce? Was he in witness protection program? He didn’t seem like he would abandon his kids. This information doesn’t change how I feel about him. I love and miss him so much!

Celebrating my birthday
He was the best!
Eating spaghetti
❤️

We all have secrets and skeletons in our closets. Our ancestors had so many hardships. Hard upbringings. But they persevered. The facts paint a picture of their lives. My grandpa was still humble and loved to joke. Everyone loved him. I wonder how our family moved on and continued living. Back when no one shared their hardships or saw a therapist. They just hid their hard things and moved on. But I don’t believe that was easy at all.

My dad tried hard for years reading self help books. He had a really tough life. He served in the war, was raised by a single mother in the 1950s. Was made fun of in school, kids calling him a poor farmer boy. Tragically lost his sister. Dad disowned him. He lost friends. Story goes on. But he married a great woman (my mom!) and loved her deeply. He couldn’t respect any man who cheated. He raised my sister and I to be great, caring people.

At the end, I think he was tired. He was tired of struggling with his emotions that he would not show or talk about. He wasn’t raised like that. It’s hard and scary to do something different then what you are used to. Even though I preach going to therapy and taking time for yourself, it’s hard for ME to do it. I was raised in a family where we didn’t show any emotions or talk about sensitive issues. There weren’t hugs or pep talks. But it’s time to change and step out of our comfort zones.

I think we need to be more grateful for the people in our lives. Tell them how much we appreciate them. It goes a long way. It helps people know that they ARE good enough. Gives people confidence to keep going and trying. Let’s not just endure this life. Let’s lift each other up. And take care of ourselves while we are at it ❤️

Hugs,

Sarah

Sickness

My kids are battling a tough stomach bug. Making them delusional and lethargic from dehydration. My dad was just down to bones before he passed. He couldn’t keep much down either. My kids have been suffering for a few days each, I can’t imagine someone suffering for months like this. Having no energy, exhausted all the time, and can’t sleep. I can see why he decided it was his time. But I still wish with all my heart he chose to stay.

Driving to the hospital 45 minutes away to take my 5 yr old in for fluids and meds, I had lots of time to ponder about life. I feel so helpless as a mom when my kids get sick and nothing is helping them, no matter how hard I try. Worry and panic fill most of my days while I try to get my kids better. Lots of what if questions too. So the drive was good for me, in a way I guess. It was hard too because some emotions about my dad came out. I don’t know why it is, but when life gets tough and when I am dealing with trials, I always think about my dad. Missing him, questioning his choices, and trauma re-emerging surrounding his death. During this drive today, I put on some of his music. The Rolling Stones always remind me of road trips all over Nevada and Wyoming with my parents. Driving for hours in the middle of no where. Enjoying the outdoors, the scenic mountains and deserts these states bring. Stopping at picnic rest stops to enjoy some rest, lunch, and some fresh air. I wish I could go back to those days as a kid, enjoying the peaceful drive, watching my dad tap his hands on the wheel to the beat of the song. Listening to him singing to the songs. Window down, fresh mountain air breeze drifting into our 4Runner. Seeing lots of trees, lakes, and mountain passes. It truly was peaceful.

Today I cried while driving those same roads my dad traveled. With tears in my eyes, I whispered, “I miss you daddy. So much.” For a second, it felt like he was sitting next to me tapping along to The Rolling Stones song that was playing. I laughed. Then Cried some more. Thinking how I wish he was here to go on drives with. To make new memories together.

Why did he have to go? Why didn’t he leave any sort of goodbye note? How come he left so quickly without even saying he loved us? Weren’t we enough?

Hard thoughts to overcome and process. They aren’t as strong and emotional as the first few months but they are still there.

Hug the ones you love and cherish. Forgive those that are harsh. Lift others up. Let others know you appreciate them. We only have this one life, let’s try to appreciate what we have and work hard for what we want. Right now I am working hard on not getting sick 😅

Hugs,

Sarah

Where’s the Compassion Gone?

My Saturday walk

Where has the compassion gone? Why are people quick to blame? Why are people more and more self centered? As Mister Rogers would say, look for the helpers. But where are they?

Since I was a little kid, I have always thought about how actions and words can hurt others. My mentality was ‘put yourself in others shoes, would they feel hurt if you said/did that?’ I’ve always had compassion for others. I was always the helper. I wanted to help people that were in pain. I know how it feels to be heartbroken or how things feel like they won’t work out. I don’t want others to feel that pain.

I feel like I am a minority in the way I think. So many people just care about what’s best for them and don’t care about how those actions effect others. Why can’t people have compassion for others? Why not try and help? Maybe that person was having a bad day. I can forgive others for that. I get it. We all have bad days. But when one gets treated badly over and over, that’s where I’ve learned to draw the line (and set boundaries).

I just don’t get it. Be nice. It’s that simple.

I often think my dad was hurt so bad that he put on this gruff exterior. Tried to act like he didn’t care what others did or say to him. But really, he was such a compassionate soul that I think it maybe ruined him. He saw lots of hurt and pain from others that he had to set boundaries for himself. His dad walked out on his family. He later disowned my dad because he didn’t make the Navy a career. His half brother would reach out and ask for money. My dad was too nice and would always send him checks when he needed it. He finally set a boundary and told his brother not to write him asking for money anymore. That he would be more than happy to keep in touch, but he was sick of being used. Unfortunately, he never heard from his brother again. He was sick of being taken for granted.

Maybe my dad had lost faith in humanity at the end of his life. No one wanted to help him, the doctors saying he was fine. He was always the helper, and there was no one to help him. Gosh, I can relate to that sorrow he had. When faith in others just brings sorrow and regret.

My faith in humanity may not be where it once was. My spirit feels let down and tired. That spark isn’t as bright anymore. Drained and exhausted, trying to figure out how to move on and not let my light dwindle. Lots of forgiveness to work through.

How did Jesus do it? He was persecuted, yelled at, accused of many false things, hurt, beaten, and so much more. But his spirit was strong. He loved his enemies. A quote comes to mind from Hank Smith. Boundaries are key.

I have faith that I will get through this. I have faith that my dad tried his best, with everything thrown at him. His upbringing and all the sorrow he had gone through. I also have faith that we can all do better. I am not perfect, never will be, but I know I can work on myself and try and love others. That’s being Christlike.

A quote from a book I am reading, about France being taken over by Nazi’s during WWll. A young teen girl is talking with a nun at her local church: “You’re not alone, and you’re not the one in charge,” Mother said gently. “Ask for help when you need it, and give help when you can. I think that is how we serve God—and each other and ourselves—in times as dark as these.”

Isn’t that so powerful? We are not in charge, as much as we want to be. Pride and status are ugly things. God is in charge. And we serve Him by helping others. By doing that, we help ourselves by becoming true disciples of Christ.

I am not going to lose faith in myself. I matter and I am loved by my Heavenly Father. And so are you!

Hugs,

Sarah

Storing Grief For Another Day

I remember this picture being taken. He wanted both of us to pose the same way. We rarely took pictures, but I am so glad we took this one.

My grief’s waves have slowed down a bit lately. The boat I am on feels safe and secure, but I know there’s a storm brewing that will make the waves grow stronger. But I don’t want to think about that. I just want to ride the boat, basque in the sun with a smile on my face as the slow waves push me along my path.

It feels like it was forever ago that my dad was alive. I feel like my memories are fading. In a morbid way of thinking, sometimes I read my past blog posts so that I can remember those feelings I had. So that I can FEEL something about my dad again. I feel ashamed to even admit that. It just seems like its all fading away. It feels like a bad dream.

I took down my dad’s remembrance shelf where I had pictures of him, his very worn bible, his favorite cup, and American flags. I took them down over a year ago to do something else with the shelf. I put everything into a bin and just haven’t felt the need to put it back up. I feel like I am a horrible daughter to not want all his things back up where my kids and I can see them! I don’t hate him, I am not angry, I guess I just don’t have the energy to be hit with another grief wave that might come if I put them back.

I want to keep his memory alive. But how do I do that if I am not willing to listen to his music, put his pictures on display, or think about memories we’ve shared? I am in one of those grief stages that feels…. weird. One that I can’t really describe. One that I haven’t really experienced before. Is it contentment? Moving on and trying to enjoy my life? Just being numb to the grief? I don’t know.

I do know that things will change and I will be at that stage where I can confront the music, pictures, and memories again. I am ok with that. I have to continue to love myself and be grateful for where I am in this journey.

Lately though, I have really needed him. We had this one of a kind relationship. He was not a man of many words and didn’t really know how to say the right things when trying to comfort me when I was a teen, but he was PRESENT. He listened to me. He loved me. He was proud of me. I just want to go back to the memories. When we worked together. He would visit me in the office any chance he would get. I was very proud of him too. Everyone at work knew him and loved him.

His presence is what I truly miss. Maybe if I share memories, it will help me come out of this numb grief state I am in. Almost like my grief is on pause at the moment.

He picked me up at a friends house late at night, no questions asked.

I was harassed in middle school. He recorded what the people were saying (who were harassing me) and he took me down to the police station to file a police report. As much as I just wanted to hide and forget about it, his presence and his actions to shield and help his daughter taught me so much about loyalty and love. He was so angry and upset when he knew about what was happening. (I haven’t really shared this with anyone before, so I feel VERY vulnerable!)

He was present at every soccer game and every soccer practice. He sometimes would come straight to practice from work, with his uniform still on and driving his work truck. I had to sit in the back of the van on the ride home, hiding because he would get in trouble if I was in the company van with him!

He brought me to church with him. Just me and him. I remember being young and in Sunday school but was crying because I didn’t want to be alone. So my dad brought me with him into the adult worship hour and I sat next to him excited to be close to him. He bought me the beginners Bible and I would sit next to him on Sundays and we would read a few pages. He bought church children magazine subscriptions for me to read along with videos from Focus on the Family. I really loved those magazines and videos. Years later, I invited him to a church I was attending in high school and we would go together.

He took me to a fish store across town that he heard about from work. Together we picked out a fish tank, colorful rocks, and fix to go in it. He would clean it out with me too, which was not an easy task.

Anytime we were out running errands, which was usually every Saturday, we would stop at 7-11 to get slurpees or soda. He taught me the trick of sticking your finger in the soda so it doesn’t foam up. I know, not real Covid compliant.

He picked me up from the movie theaters that my friend and I were at. Usually my mom would take and pick up me and my friends. But in this specific day, he picked me up and told me my grandpa died. My dad was the one that would be the first to tell me about anything sad. He had a real soft side that no one really saw, through his gruff, quiet exterior. He was the one who called me in the middle of the night when I was in college in a different city to tell me my grandma died. He was the one that told me about one of our dogs that passed away while I was visiting my sister. Because of this, I would come to him first when things went sour in my life. Bad breakups, pregnancy complications, death, or any of those hard things to talk about. Not my mom, it was my dad who I told.

He helped me with all of my science projects throughout my time in school.

He came to the hospital as fast as he could after work to see me when I broke my arm as a kid. I remember him walking up to me with fear and compassion in his eyes, while still wearing his work uniform.

I think it was him that sparked my interest in engineering and pursuing my education in that area. We worked on cars, worked outside, reloaded bullets, ultimately figured out problems and fixed them together. I wanted to be an engineer since middle school. I eventually went to school for both mechanical and civil engineering, and worked my way into making a CAD career in the engineering field. We were able to ‘talk shop’ when it came to our jobs (with one of my jobs being at the same company as his at one point).

At his retirement party, he cried and gave me the biggest hug (my dad was NOT a hugger at all). He was sad that he wasn’t able to be PRESENT for me anymore because my mom and him were moving to a different state. He asked my uncle to take over for him and look after me. Mind you I was 20 years old and could take care of myself (thanks to my dad’s teachings) but I knew he was going to miss our times together.

I feel like I was my dad’s little shadow. The boy he always wanted haha. Because of his presence and example he gave me, he got a daughter that was strong enough to tell the boys off (and maybe add a few karate kicks in there that we learned from a class we took together), taught me how to fend for myself, taught me how to work hard (I had been working since I was 15 until I had kids), taught me to love nature, taught me love our country and military, taught me how to have compassion for others, taught me of about our Savior, and so much more.

His presence is what I miss the most. I want so badly to call him and help me put a sprinkler system together. He knew exactly how to plan and prepare a lawn and a garden. I wish I could have him here to help me.

Most daughters have better relationships with their moms. Mine was with my dad. Now I LOVE my mom so much and she’s a great mom, so willing to help me with anything! The unspoken bond my dad and I shared was like none other. Not perfect but unique to us.

But there’s something about a daddy daughter relationship that I miss so much.

Hugs,

Sarah

Carrying Trauma

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. My thoughts are a bit jumbled about my dad and life has just taken over. It makes me sad that I don’t think about him daily.

The trauma is still there. But the wound isn’t as fresh. I’ve gone so long now (over 4 years) since I’ve talked to my dad, even longer since I last saw him. Life moves on. But there’s a sadness with that too.

I am a different person with my grief. I have grown and evolved. I have witnessed so many little miracles and tender mercies. But some of that ‘noise’ isn’t so often anymore. I haven’t dreamt of my dad. I am not waiting for answers to my grief. It’s like a thing of the past. However, I am so grateful for those tender mercies I’ve experienced and how Heavenly Father helped me so much the first year. I still remember the feelings of peace and calm. And the answers that I received.

So yes, this trauma changed me. For the better. I am more mindful of situations and mental health. I have more compassion for others. I have a love for my Heavenly Father and a testimony of his love for me.

I miss my dad. Very much so. The other day, I had a split second thought of calling him to talk to him about something. It was heartbreaking that I can’t just pick up the phone and call him.

I carry this trauma with me always. Some times it’s been a burden to carry, but in spite of it all, I think I’ve carried it well.

Hugs,

Sarah