"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Friday, September 21, 2012

RIP Daddy

All of my posts usually have some strong emotions in them…and it takes a lot out of me to put it all out in the open. But that’s what I do…and this may be one of the strongest I’ve ever written. It’s most certainly the most painful I’ve ever typed.
                My dad died, September 18th. It was sudden to all of us, we wouldn’t have even known anything was wrong had some strange circumstances happened on Sunday. It’s a long story that I’m not going to go into at the moment. But someone wanted me to start asking questions…and when I did…I found out how sick my father really was.
                It turns out that on Friday the 14th, my father was taken from jail and to a hospital nearby in Florida, for stomach pains. It was a ruptured appendix, and after surgery to try and remove it, he developed sepsis. The sepsis took over his body, shutting down his organs, and put him into a coma. His condition was so extreme that trying to start him on dialysis on Monday only worsened his condition. He was not expected to make it through the night Monday. Tuesday I got the call, as most of you have read, that it was just a matter of minutes, hours if we were lucky, until my dad passed away. I said my final goodbyes in a way that I never thought I would have to…and waited for the final call.
                At 4:30 my aunt called…he was gone. My instant reaction was stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced. I had to pull my car over to the side of the road, and found myself curled up in the seat dry heaving. I couldn’t see straight, couldn’t breathe. All I could see was him handcuffed to that hospital bed…with no one there other than a prison guard. Even as I think about it now it makes me physically ill. It shouldn’t have happened like that…no matter what he’s done on this Earth…it should NOT have happened like that. Once I finally calmed down, I pulled down the mirror in the visor of my car to wipe my eyes. I didn’t think before I did it…and the restraining order I have on him fell into my lap. Something broke in me. Something completely snapped…and suddenly I was remarkably calm. Eerily calm.
                My father has been sick, mentally and physically for a very long time. Something that I am very aware of. But this was not expected by any means. I had plans of going to Florida in 2 weeks to conquer my fears and go to his trial. Anyone who has been reading knows all about it, and the battle I’ve been fighting within myself. The things that my father has done over the years are indescribable. They are horrible, and he has hurt SO many people that I love dearly. He has hurt me more than I can even begin to explain. But he is my father. And now he’s dead.
                I spent 14, almost 15 years with my father. Going through the old pictures from when I was little have been breaking my heart. Remembering when we went to the horse barn with a bag of carrots and apples…and he taught me how to feed them without getting my fingers bit off. Riding around in his old green MG convertible that the floor was rusting out of. Going on the boat or to the beach and spending hours in the sun and water. The hours he would spend playing his guitar and making up stupid songs like “Ant Highway” and “Down by the Bayou”. How I wish I could remember the words to those damn songs…
                I would be lying to myself and to everyone else if I didn’t admit to having an EXTREME level of guilt right now. I’m sure my grandmother will be thrilled to know that…as I can tell how angry she is with me for not maintaining a relationship with my father. But while I feel the guilt, I know that I shouldn’t. What I’m fighting the most with is that he died alone. It kills me…and I can’t help but feel that I should have been there holding his hand. At the same time…I couldn’t be. It’s not my fault, it’s not something I did intentionally. This was incredibly sudden for everyone involved…and God knows that I would have been there if I could have been. I don’t feel guilty for not speaking to him…I don’t have to justify it. It was for my own safety and protection…and whether or not others understand that…I do. Sometimes you have no choice but to “love from a distance”…and a part of love is watching the people you care about make bad decisions. Sometimes there is just strictly nothing you can do. This was that kind of situation. I couldn’t change him, God knows I tried. But I couldn’t. The other half of it…is the last time I spoke to him. I don’t remember it specifically, we had a lot of horrible phone calls all very close to one another around that time…but I do know that it ended in a restraining order. I made the biggest mistake of my life in that phone call…and I didn’t tell my dad that I loved him. I’m not sure I’m ever going to recover from that. I said it when the nurse held the phone to his ear on Tuesday before he passed…but it wasn’t the same. It’s been haunting me in the back of my head for days…and it’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself for. No matter how mad you are at a loved one…there should NEVER be a reason you don’t tell them that you love them.
                I am still calm. Nights are horrible. I can’t sleep to save my life, and once I do drift off I have nightmares and wake up in a panic. I cry…a lot. Certain songs have been really getting to me, and eating just leads to getting sick a matter of hours later. I feel like I’m walking around in a fog, nothing seems quite real. I’ve got a crazy weekend ahead…and then a week in Florida…but at the moment, I’m a walking contradiction. I’m feeling five thousand different emotions whirling around at lightning speed…but at the same time I feel nothing. I’m numb.
                I don’t know if I’m in denial. Or maybe this is just the calm before the storm. I really don’t know. I WANT to feel something. I WANT to break down and cry. But nothing is happening. Sure, occasionally it kind of hits me and I get upset. At night for example, or during one of those songs. For the most part though…I’m way too calm. It scares me a little bit. It makes me wonder if I emotionally removed myself from the situation long ago…and will never feel anything. Am I that cold-hearted that I don’t care?
                Clearly, I don’t have a clue. I’m mad…at the world randomly…and then I switch to being bouncy and smiley like I usually am. One minute I find comfort in all of the good in my dad (which I’ve been fighting to remember him by)…and the next I’m furious at the fact that he never gave enough of a damn to be there for his kids. That he said the horrible things he did to me, and physically/emotionally hurt me just to gain power.
                Writing this has made me feel so sick to my stomach…maybe that’s why I’ve been avoiding feeling anything. I don’t want to process this. I don’t want to feel anything…because the feelings HURT. Hurt more than anything has ever hurt before. It’s a level of pain that I didn’t know even existed. I’ve said this a few times in the past few days…and it still amazes me how true it is…but this is honestly the worst thing that has happened in my life. The hardest thing I have ever faced...and I can only imagine it is the hardest thing I’ll face in my lifetime.
                I have lost loved ones, people that were extremely close to my heart. I have lost a child. I have lost a spouse. Yet somehow…losing the person that hurt me more than anyone else ever could…is remarkably harder.
                It’s strange to me that I posted the picture of my father on Saturday in a post titled “The last time”. I was talking about the last time I saw my father…and when I wrote it…I had NO idea what was going on. Little did I know that that that picture really WAS the last time I saw my father…forever. It’s strange how God tries to prepare you for things ahead of time…and how you don’t realize it until later.

Dear Dad,
I’m still mad at you…I can’t lie and say that I’m not. You hurt me…you hurt my family…and worst of all, you created a situation where my little sister has to grow up without a father. I’m mad that you wore your body out with drugs, and that you chose to do things that kept you on the run, and then locked in prison. I hate that you weren’t there for my graduation, that you’ve never for a second told me you were proud of me, and I’m angry that you will not have the chance to be there for my wedding. I hate that one day I have to explain to my children who their grandfather was…and I hate that I honestly don’t know what I’m going to tell them…or how I’m going to explain that there was good in you…even though I refused to be around you.
I’m sorry that I wasn’t there. I’m sorry that I didn’t end that last phone call with an “Even though I’m mad at you, I love you”. I’m sorry that I wasn’t the daughter you wanted me to be…and I’m sorry I couldn’t bring myself to support you while you were in jail.
A part of me always hoped that something miraculous would happen and we’d have a chance to fix things between us. Reality told me it wouldn’t happen…but I had some crazy hope that we could.
I don’t know where you are. I certainly hope heaven. It would bring a lot of relief to me if that were true…and there was some way I could know that you were. I’ve prayed for you every day for years. I hope those prayers worked somehow. I hope you had some kind of a chance to come to terms with everything happening to you before you passed.
But most of all…my biggest hope, is that you heard me on Tuesday. I really really hope you heard the words I said, and I hoped you believed them. I hope you know that when I say I love you…I mean it to the deepest ends that I possibly can. I love you SO much…and I hope that in your head I am always that bouncy little blonde haired, blue eyed, little girl with the crazy curls.  
I hope you can see me now, and I hope that your head is clearer. I hope you’re proud, and I hope you realize how wrong you were about all the things you said I was.
I promise to see you in every sunset. I promise to show my kids, and your kids the waterfalls, the creeks, and all the hidden spots we used to go to. I promise to use the good and the bad I learned from you, to be a better parent to the children I hope to someday have. I promise to think of you every time I hear a guitar, and I promise to never stop finding comfort in music. But most of all…I promise to never stop loving you. Even when I’m mad and hurt…I promise that I will never forget how much I loved you.
I will always be your QOTHB and you will always be my KOTDW.
-Your bunny (only because I remember how much you loved to call me that)
RIP Daddy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


In an attempt to distract myself today I took myself to get my hair done and relax for a bit. As I sat in the stylist's chair...I got a call. The nurse I've been speaking with called me to say that he was at my father's bedside and that it wouldn't be long now. He gave me the chance to tell my dad goodbye. He held the phone up to his ear so I could say what I needed to. What was said will always remain between me and my father...and I hope he actually heard me. 

I wish I could be there to hold his hand one more time and hug him...something I haven't done in 3 years. But at the same time...this gave me a small bit of peace. I was public...and I'm sure I'll later think of all the things I could have said. But at least I got to say the basics. The 4 most important words. That's been a theme today...the hardest four words and the most important. 

My father is dying.

But most,

I love you...goodbye.

The four hardest words I've ever had to say

I’m probably about to share too much…and I honestly don’t care. Writing calms me down…and it’s pretty clear that it’s what I need to do. The past 48 hours have been some of the hardest I’ve ever experienced…and the emotional pain I’m currently going through rivals anything I’ve ever felt. I’m in the middle of a waiting game that no one should ever have to be in. It’s taking everything I have to type the next few words because it’s something that I can barely bring myself to admit. They’re by far the 4 hardest words I’ve ever had to say. My father is dying. Not in the sense that these are his last few days…but in the sense that these are his last few hours. I want to be there…but there is no way I could make it in time to say my final goodbyes. I am helpless…and completely heartbroken.
                The emotions going through my head are scaring me a little bit. These are things I didn’t even know I could feel for him. There’s sadness, anger, guilt, confusion…every emotion under the sun. There might even be some denial. My father is dying.
                Sunday night I got a phone call from a blocked number…a man claiming to be my father’s defense attorney…and he told me that he had committed suicide and was no longer with us. I lost my mind…and shut down. Come to find out (after my mom and aunt made a lot of phone calls)…that it wasn’t true. My father was in the hospital, but he was alive, and it was for something unrelated. He hadn’t attempted suicide…he had been transferred there for stomach pains…but he was definitely still alive. I calmed down a bit thinking that everything was going to be ok. Throughout the day on Monday I made more phone calls…demanding answers. I finally got in contact with someone who told me the full truth.
                My father was taken to the hospital last week for stomach pains. They did exploratory surgery…but were never able to get him off the ventilator. He then developed toxic shock, and his organs all shut down. His blood pressure is only being kept up by medications…and there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it through last night. I vowed to go down there…see him one last time. I was told I could have 30 minutes, no more no less…to say my goodbyes and attempt to make peace with the situation. They were going to put him on dialysis to keep him alive longer…and hope that somehow we’d get a miracle and he’d pull through this.
                Dialysis didn’t work. It put him in worse condition…and there’s nothing they can do. I got word first thing this morning that my father will most likely die today…and I can’t do anything about it. I can’t make it there in time…I can’t tell him all the things I wanted to say…and I have to live with that.
                I can’t put into words how much this hurts. I’ve imagined this day for a very long time…and always thought that I’d handle it better. But nothing could have prepared me for this. This has been such a long road…of horrible horrible experiences…and really tough love. Yet here we are…and instead of feeling the closure I thought I’d feel…I couldn’t be more thrown off. I can’t even think straight.
                I am so mad at him for putting all of us in this situation. I’m mad that he wasn’t the dad he was supposed to be. That he didn’t see me graduate, won’t see me get married, will never meet my kids. I’m mad that I have to edit what I say to my siblings because I can’t tell them the full truth of the man he was. I’m mad that my little sister is having such a hard time because he’s never been there for her. It hurts me that she’s hurting…and it infuriates me that he’s the reason behind her pain. I'm trying really hard to remember the good times right now…but my mind is so confused and I’m struggling.
                I’m sad that I haven’t gotten a chance to say goodbye. It’s something that’s going to haunt me for a long long time. I know I’m going to have to come to terms with it…but I guess I’ve been in denial for so long that I don’t really know how to handle this. This waiting game is beyond horrible. Having to just sit here and wonder when it’s going to happen. Is there a chance I could make it in time…should I try…I don’t know. So many unanswered questions that are hurting me.
                I know I shouldn’t say this because I know it’s not what I should be feeling right now…but I’m feeling guilty. I know I had every right to cut him out of my life a year ago…but it’s bothering me now. I needed him out of my life for my own sanity…and it was his actions that caused it. There’s this deep feeling in me though that’s eating at me. If I’d taken one of those phone calls…if I hadn’t gotten that restraining order…I might have been able to say all that I wish I could have said now. This is a perfect example of NEVER letting someone leave without making peace with them…no matter how mad you are. I don’t even remember the last time I talked to my dad…but I know it wasn’t a good conversation, and it’s got me wishing I’d done things differently. It’s a very hard pill to swallow.
                You never know when the people you love aren’t going to be there anymore. And when suddenly you’re faced with them being gone shortly…it knocks the wind right out of you.
                I know people are trying to be helpful and trying to make me feel better. But with the next person to say “I know how you feel” or “I get what you’re going through”…I might lose it. I don’t even know how I feel right now. This isn’t just someone losing a parent…which is horrible all on its own I’m sure. This situation is absolutely insane. My father is an inmate…a felon. Someone who has terrorized everyone that I love, and caused my family mass amounts of pain. But again…he is my father. Nothing will ever change that I grew up with him. When he wasn’t being insane…he was my dad. He played his guitar all the time, he made a huge swing for me out of a tree branch in the front yard, and he gave me three siblings that mean the world to me.
                I started looking through pictures…because I know it’s just a matter of time before we have to start planning a memorial service. I know that might be morbid…but I need to prepare myself, and I’ve gone into problem solving mode. I found a bunch of pictures of me running around with the curls he loved so much bouncing everywhere, and flowers tucked behind my ears. Pictures of him pushing me on that swing he made…and pictures of the baby raccoons we literally found IN our kitchen wall once.
                I don’t know how to feel right now. All I know is this is some of the strongest pain I’ve ever felt…and the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. These next few months are going to be hard and I know it. Yet again, I’m sure I’ll hear about how I’m sharing “too much” on the internet…and how this is private. But this is my outlet. This is what calms me down. And right now I really don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. I’m doing this for me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The last time

I  typically don't post pictures...but I came across the one the other day while I was cleaning out the memory on my computer. This was the last time I saw my father in person. I believe it was June of 2009...I hadn't seen him in 2-3 years at that point, and I was on my way back to Ohio from Florida. I had just graduated college, and was about to graduate high school. I was 18 and it was one of the most awkward lunches I've ever had. We met in the airport during my layover...and we sat in this quiet restaurant...both trying to fight the silence. 

After lunch he walked me to security. He brought me a huge vase with flowers, but I couldn't take it with me on the plane. I handed it back to him, thanked him, and went to walk away. I held it together...until he yelled behind me how he loved me and missed me so much. Even now as I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes. I wish he knew what love meant...and that it was strong enough to combat all that he's done.

That was 3 1/2 years ago...and other than that's been closer to 5-6 since I've spent any real time with my father. I think part of me always hoped we might get a chance one day to sit and attempt to work things out. But here we are...3 weeks away from trial...and we're more distant than we've ever really been. Granted that's my doing, and it needs to be that way. But it's still hard to process sometimes. 

I miss him. I shouldn't...but I do sometimes. I hadn't planned on posting any more today, but then this picture was stuck in my mind. And considering I was CLEARLY already in the writing mode...this all just kind of spilled out. I've learned that one of the hardest things in life is watching someone you love self destruct...and not being able to do anything about it. But maybe the harder part is...realizing that you really can't do anything about it. And that sometimes you really do just need to learn to love from a distance...and learn to let go of the hopes you had for them to change.

*Serenity Prayer*

Kenny Loggins and the best days of my life

I was within 5 feet of Kenny Loggins yesterday. I watched his sound check for a private show he was doing…and for almost an hour, got to just stare and listen. I’m still beside myself…and I’m counting myself lucky that I didn’t pass out when he walked into the room. My boyfriend is absolutely amazing and gave me a head’s up that he was going to be in Cleveland yesterday…so I hung around his work to see if I could get a glimpse. It was beyond amazing…to a level that I can’t even put into words.
                I should probably give a little explanation as to why Kenny Loggins is someone I idolize more than I can say. Between Kenny Loggins and James Taylor…I have some crazy great memories of my dad. The good memories seem to be far and few between these days…except when I hear music that reminds me of him. Those are the few good memories…and something that still connects me to the dad I once knew. They remind me of days on the boat, crazy nights by the bonfire in the backyard, and the times where bands would practice in our basement. All 3 stories of his house would be SHAKING from “Footloose” or “I’m Alright” blasting in the basement.
                His songs calm me down…and make me smile whether I like it or not. That is REAL music…unlike the crap they put on the radio these days. Music that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs…and jump around dancing. I have an entire Pandora station dedicated to Loggins…and I’ve had it on in the car and at home for the last 24 hours nonstop.
                I need to focus on those good memories and I know it. I can feel myself drifting farther and farther away from any kind of connection I held with my father. I can’t tell if it’s a defense mechanism or if I’m honestly just losing compassion for the situation. When I think about it, I get sad…but even more…I realize how exhausted I am by the whole thing. This has been a long long fight. People keep saying they can’t wait for the trial to be over…and it makes me want to scream. I’m sure they want it over like I do…but this is so much more to some people. It’s not just a trial…it’s a lifetime of hurt with no kind of validation. My father hurt so many people in so many different ways…and never had to face consequences. I lived with him for 15 years (give or take)…and never got any kind of justice for the things that happened. This is finally the chance to see that he isn’t invincible…and is finally being held accountable for what he’s done.
                Oh well…I’m going in like 30 different directions on this post…and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe the coffee…yea probably the coffee.
                Anyways…there was something that I wanted to post about. It’s been on my mind since I was in class last Thursday. It’s kind of a long story, but the main idea was something a teacher did. I told her I needed to take a week off of class in October, and I didn’t tell her why. I said it was a family obligation out of state…because I didn’t see the need for her to know all of the details of my father’s trial. This woman went on a tangent…about how it wouldn’t be an excused absence for “vacation” and how I needed to take my classes more seriously. When I tried to (calmly might I add) defend myself…she flew off the handle. She told me that I was just a young girl…who was privileged and never had to work for anything because I was “pretty.” I wanted to lose it on her. Wanted to yell right back at her that the whole reason I had to take time off was so I could go to Florida to watch my FATHER be sent to PRISON. But I didn’t. I didn’t go on about always wondering if my father was going to make it another day without attempting suicide again, or getting calls from reporters who want to know about how much of a monster he is…hell I didn’t even tell her how it feels to have to lie to my little brothers and sister so they don’t know that their father is a psycho who had to be locked up. Instead I kept my mouth shut, and walked out of the room. I returned later with my card with this website on it…and told her to give it a look. If she still thought I was such a privileged little girl that had never had to work hard or fight for anything after reading it…I would be glad to withdrawal from her class.
                I like to share what has happened in my life not only because it helps me unwind and process…kind of a therapy. But also because I hope that someone else will get some kind of help from it. Whether that is knowing what NOT to do…or taking inspiration from the fact that it DOES get better…I want to help. And I’ve gotten so many emails, comments, etc. from people saying that is has helped them in some way.
                I put on a strong happy front no matter what. Very rarely will people know that something is wrong. Hell…many of my friends have no idea what’s going on with my dad. No one in my classes knows, and I’m not one to go telling someone I don’t know.  Those who haven’t seen this blog would have no way of knowing all the hell breaking loose in my family life. In a way I’m thankful for that…but at the same time it gets frustrating sometimes. I’ll go to give someone advice on something they’re going through…and they don’t want to take me seriously…because after all, I’m 21, what do I know? They have no idea that I’ve dealt with things and seen things in the last 20 years that many never do. Now don’t get me wrong…I’m beyond thankful for those experiences (as I’ve written about in the past) because it has all gotten me to where I am, and has made me who I am. I have inner strength because of it all, and it’s helped me fight through many situations that others would have given up over.
                My life has been anything but perfect. Sometimes I forget (or don’t want to admit) things that have happened. I block them out, and looking back on it, I feel like I’m watching the movie of someone else’s life. But it was so worth it. Look at my life now. If you take out the situation with my dad, prison, etc…it really couldn’t be much better. I’m beyond blessed, and beyond thankful. A lot of people say the “best days of your life” are in high school and when you’re a kid. But I don’t believe it for a second. The best days of your life are when you find yourself…and are comfortable in your own skin. When you finally allow yourself to work hard, and play harder. Finding the balance between responsibility and the things that make you happy. The day you take risks because you see a better life around the corner…and you’re willing to fight for it. That’s when you’re officially in those best days…and for me…that seems to be right now.