(Happy) Father’s Day

I absolutely loathe Father’s Day. I try not to hate anyone or anything in life but this one day is something I can’t accept or like.

My father is 73 years old, older than my mom’s parents, who is set in his ways. He is from Greece, and as per custom, the sons are of favorite in order to keep the family name while the daughters are to marry off and become good housewives. My brother could do no wrong in my father’s eyes growing up but I always got the short end of the stick.

Since I was a wee child, a long, long time ago, I’ve never had a father. My parent’s separated when I was nine months old and I lived with my mom, brother and grandparents for 13 years of my life until I moved to Ithaca. My father lived down the road from where I lived growing up in New Hampshire.

Every other weekend, if he wasn’t too busy for my brother and I, it would be the same routine: get picked up, go out to eat, maybe stop at a store for my dad to purchase something for my brother and sometimes I would be lucky enough to get something too, go back to father’s apartment and do absolutely nothing until we were dropped off or picked up on Sunday afternoon.

Not even 24 hours would I be with my father on a given weekend. The amount of days I’ve actually spent with my father couldn’t even add up to a 365 day year.

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When I moved to Ithaca in 2007, 10 years and one day ago, my father did not “approve” of this move. He thought that he made the “wrong” decision in “letting” me go to Ithaca with my mom and new mom. Full disclosure, I told my mom I wanted to move.  She said, “O.K.” Moving to Ithaca ended up being the absolute best decision of my life; I made friends, I became social, I came out of my shell, I graduated high school and I graduate college.

To this day, my father doesn’t understand all the good that’s happened in my life.

I don’t celebrate Father’s Day for many, many reasons, but mostly because I don’t have a father to celebrate. I see my friends with their fathers and I wished, for most of my youth, that my father would be the person I needed and wanted. I prayed that the broken feeling of not having a father would be fixed. I was always the child who called my father in order to see him, the one who always remembered his birthday or called on the holidays and was always in the middle when it came to my parent’s arguing.

I put in so much time and effort on a relationship, one I desperately wanted, that I would, and will, never get. I know what a father should be:

A father is someone who is constantly in their child’s, or children’s, life.

A father is there at every event the children are a part of.

A father shows compassion when life becomes a lot.

A father knows their favorite color, food, animal and season of the year.

A father doesn’t leave when the going gets tough.

A father shows love to his children.

A father doesn’t take his kids for granted.

I wouldn’t wish the father I have on anyone. My father has called me names no child should ever be called, see and listen to conversations that should have been private, be yelled at like you’re not even their child and emotionally abused by someone I am genetically half of.

The last time I saw my father before visiting him in January was when I graduated high school in 2012. He moved in 2015 from Massachusetts down south to Naples, FL, without informing anyone. I found out six months later of the move.

I thought visiting him would be something different and things would change. They didn’t; I found myself in the same situation I lived over and over when I visited my father a young child.

In that short week I learned that I don’t have a father to call my own like my friends do or those who have celebrated Father’s Day from posting on social media. A father doesn’t cause their children heartache, isolation and negativity.

I smile at everyone’s happiness and praise of their fathers. For 23 years I wanted to experience that same happiness and joy. I’ve realized I will never understand the feeling of what it’s like to have a present father in my life.

 

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I don’t hate my father. I don’t necessarily like my father. I love him but not how I love my moms or my grandparents. Four people who have not left my side through thick and thin in my life, have seen the BS I had to go through with my father and reassured me of those people I always have.

I give an extra nod to my second mom on father’s day; for coming into my life at my horrible and terrible pubescent teenage years and loves me like her own as my relationship with my father kept getting worse. She filled in the shoes of a father, that second parent I desperately wanted and needed.

We all have our parents or guardians, present or passed, that have raised us. Some people have mothers, some don’t. Some people have fathers, some don’t. Celebrating these holidays make brings different memories to people and there is no wrong way.

I don’t celebrate Father’s Day for my father and for me, that’s okay.

But a short and lovin’ life, that ain’t so bad

Death is scary.

There are only two moments guaranteed in life; the day you’re born and the day you die. The second one is completely decided by fate which cannot be changed, altered or avoided. It’s bound to happen.

But let’s not think about death like that; let’s think of it as moments, memories and success. Here’s a long story to give a base to what I will talk about later in this post.

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In my short life these past 23 years, I’ve lost a few people in my family but were not too close to where I was in a period of grieving. I never had to mourn over someone or something. That changed last August.

My first close death happened last year when I lost my first pet, my little Chihuahua, Bebe.

My parents came to pick me up from my father’s house in February 2007 holding a sky blue blanket with a furry little creature underneath. It was a seven to nine week old puppy with a crooked nose, light brown feet, a white chest and the smallest little ears on an even littler body. She was bought at our local pet store in a typical U.S.A mall where dozens of puppies, most likely, produced puppy mills were kept in cold, white cages hoping to be adopted.  She was so sick that if no one took her she would have been put down before her life could even begin.

Luckily, Bebe’s luck chimed in. From the moment my mom held her, that was it. She was going to be coming home with us, sickness and all!

And we knew going in that she was sick. There was no concrete answer as to why she was always sick. Her being sick didn’t stop us from falling absolutely in love with her. She brought so much joy into our lives for almost 10 years.

She was spoiled rotten every moment of her life, surrounded by so many people who loved her. Bebe had that extra dose of innocence that even if she pooped on the rug, which she did many times, you couldn’t be mad at her for more than three minutes. All of the cuddles on your lap or underneath your neck, as if she was two pounds again, made the darkest days brighter. She was a great companion, listener, pet and sister. But being sick seemed to show its colors towards the end of her life.

May 2017 was when it all began.

Not even hours after arriving home from my senior year (pt. 1) of college, I went out with friends to celebrate the end of the year and them graduating school. I was out for only a couple hours when my poor little Beebs experienced her first, certainly not her last, seizure.

My parents, in a state of confusion and concern, rushed her over to the animal hospital in Ithaca to see what was going on. Nothing came back alarming but her liver numbers were higher than normal.

“Hm…” I thought.

I hugged my baby a little tighter that night. I sat on our love seat in the living room, starring as she sat tiredly in a red blanket where my mom, Kim, usually sits. I starred to make sure she wasn’t going to go into another seizure. Or, was I starring because I was worrying that I was going to forget what she looked like, if that was my last time I’d see her?

I’m not too sure to this day.

She went quick. The summer of 2017 brought many seizures to our little precious soul that was Bebe. She’d be great for four or so weeks and then have severe seizures. I was away at my summer job near school and was only able to visit a couple days out of the month. I couldn’t help or take the pain away.

Luckily, I was there for her final days.

I went home to work for two days and spent all the time I could with Bebe and my parents. Our time was coming to an end.

Aug. 5, 2017, morning.

I was packing to go back to my summer job as I worked that afternoon. I sat on the couch, starring once again at Bebe in her red bed against the window of the living room. I lay down on the hardwood floors next to her and began rubbing her belly like every other day, and began feeling a trembling sense of goodbye. Noticing her crooked nose wetter than usual. Her big doe eyes starring back at me, her small little paw resting gently on my face as she stretched with the force deep within her.

I cried. I cried as I said goodbye, a usual goodbye we shared as I went off to Fredonia, nothing out of the ordinary. A feeling inside of me I can’t describe told me that it was our last goodbye. She cried as I walked out the door into the garage. I couldn’t go back.

Because we both knew.

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Sunday, Aug. 7, 2017.

I was working at my job when my mom called me, telling me that Bebe had one of her worst seizures yet. I began to cry, thinking that I am all the way over in Fredonia while my baby girl was in Ithaca, suffering. My mom called me in the most lifeless tone I have ever heard from her.

There was nothing I could to do. She probably knew, too. It wasn’t looking good but she would keep me up-to-date. That whole night I looked at our photos together, remembering all the beautiful moments we had made.

My parents brought her to Cornell animal hospital where one last seizure occurred. My parents cried as they begged for the doctors to let them, my moms, tend to Bebe one last time. Help her the way they knew how. She was rushed back and put on medicine to ease her system while my parents wept as they began to grieve.

Moments later, they went back with a doctor to a room where Bebe was hooked up to IVs, monitors and other technology. She wasn’t in pain at the moment. My parents coddled her, crying and holding her one last time.

“You can take her home for one last night if you’d like,” one of the doctors said.

If we took her then, she wouldn’t have came back.

So that night, almost midnight, my parents made the bold and selfless decision to put down Bebe. In order for her not to feel anymore pain because we loved her that much to not allow her to live in misery anymore. She didn’t deserve to continue to live in pain. We lost a piece of our family when we put her down. The doctors believe she had cancer in the liver and it spread to her brain.

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It’s been over 10 months now. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t crying while I wrote this.

The first few months were extremely hard, coming home to an empty home when there was a full house. I didn’t hear her long fingernails tapping against the wood floor to the kitchen entrance as I entered the garage door. I didn’t see her tail waging and slouched ears running to me as I came closer into the kitchen. All her fluffies, toys, in a small red bin my the kitchen counter looking over the living room was gone. That sense of home left with her across the rainbow bridge.

So what’s the point of all this? To make you cry and feel? Actually, no. That was not my goal. I was not expecting to be so personal with our loss of Bebe but it leads me to this point.

We all have memories and moments that span over our life broken down into years then months down to our many, many days living on Earth. Memories we hold onto as if they just happened yesterday. Moments we wish we could change. Narratives written in pen instead of pencil. We can’t just think of all the moments we won’t have anymore but rather, we should be thinking about all the memories, moments and laughs that we have with people who have passed.

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We gave Bebe over nine years of memories in a beautiful home, two great mommy owners, a great sister and brother, all the toys to play with, all the chicken she could possibly stuff herself with and the life she was destined not to receive. Instead of the six months she was supposed to have, we stretched that out to another nine.

I have nine years of memories with her. Imagine all the memories and moments other people have and carry in their lives. Everyone is able to look back on their life and say, “I did that. I lived through that.”

We become sad knowing that these people we hold so close to our hearts and important figures in our life won’t be able to have more memories to add to their collection. It’s hard thinking how one day we won’t have those people we love in the physical world. But people are always with us no matter what. Living or have passed.

As I’ve grown older, I have grown less afraid of death. I have accepted that one day I won’t be here anymore, same with my grandparents, parents, brother, my new dog, Jack, and my friends. It’s scary to think about but that shouldn’t stop us from living.

We have to keep living. We are allowed to be sad, hurt, confused and mourn. But we have to find that will to live. That’s what every single person who has passed would want us to do; to keep living.

Death is one sneaky son-of-a-bitch but I plan on taking the approach of embracing every single day – even if it was the most god-awful day of my life – with open arms. I will love a little harder and hate less. I will say, “thank you” and “how are you?” more often. I will make sure no one is alone. I will hug everyone I know a little bit tighter when I say, “See you later.” I will try not to rush moments anymore, in order to embrace them for what they are.

No one deserves to be forgotten or alone. Ever.