It was Sunday, 27 November, 1994. My daddy left my house for the last time. I didn’t know it would be the last. I could hear him fiddling with his car to start it up, as he always did with that old Duster. Suddenly, I was afraid I had forgotten. Forgotten to tell him I love him. My husband reassured me I had.
Yet, I was relieved when he called to tell me he had gotten home safely. “I wanted to tell you I love you,” I said. “Because you never know when it will be the last time.”
The next day he was murdered. A Wells Fargo armored car heist. It was one of the top local news features for a few months. Most people don’t remember it now.
For me, it’s something I can never forget. I miss him every day. A few years ago, I wanted to write about his death in a previous blog. There the entry still sits among the Drafts. I could not get past that phone call. Odd, since I can talk about it as casually as if I were telling you about my afternoon. But, writing it, I couldn’t finish it.
The first few weeks, months, maybe longer my mind raced with all kinds of thoughts. Why wasn’t it me, instead? Why did it have to be his time?
The one regret I do not have is that last conversation. It is why it’s worth the silly embarrassment of telling others how we love them. Better to say, “I love you more than anything and looking into your eyes gives me butterflies,” now than to save it for someone’s funeral and only wish you had.
Right off, it is obvious I was and am a Daddy’s Girl. To this day, I will drop into casual conversation, “My daddy says…” even though I have not had any long and meaningful conversations with him in 19 years.
There is one lie we tell ourselves and others, right at the start. It’s a lie I wish would stop. Even though it’s meant well meaning. “It will get easier.” When friends have lost their parents or other loved ones, I try to be of comfort, but I can’t lie. It’s not going to get easier. The easiest part was the first week. Not because it was a walk in the park, but because of shock and activity. The mind keeps working. With the media at my door, a funeral plan, and people calling with their condolences, I could pretend it wasn’t real. It was a dream. I knew I would wake up soon. All I had to do was keep busy and not give the media the satisfaction of seeing me cry.
Then, the funeral was over. I came home, picked up the phone and heard only a dial tone. The familiar stutter of a waiting message was that long buzzing. The most final and depressing sound I ever heard. It was a sound that said, “This is all too real and you’re on your own.”
19 years. I still keep thinking it should become easier with each passing year. Yet, it doesn’t. I might cry over a song or anything that reminds me of him. This is the time of year I try to keep myself busy. If I do not, then I remember. One year, I worked so much at the Celebrity Theatre, that my mind didn’t have time to think.
Last year, I found a way to refocus when I started helping APSPA with their Security Officer Memorial Fund and started Victory Rose on Facebook, because he influenced my love for vintage, music, learning, and adventure.
There are good days. There are bad days. There are so many things I want to share with him and have him answer back. So many times I want to say, “You were right.”
Each day I live. Each accomplishment I make, I make not only for myself, but for his memory.