I lost my father when I was 19. He was shot and killed minutes away from the house we lived in since I was 2. He was, quite possibly, the best person I’ve met in my life so far.
There is something unique about a strong father-daughter relationship. It’s a bond that I often took for granted, especially knowing that many of my friends didn’t have a relationship — let alone a great one — with their father.
At the hospital when we were waiting around to see if he survived his gunshot wounds, I ran around directing people to our waiting room and answering the phone of family members attempting to meet us at the hospital. I ran around so much that I wasn’t there when the doctor reported to my family that he had passed.
When I was finally able to return to the waiting room with more anxious family members, I noticed no one was waiting anymore. I was confused and began to look for my brother to see where everyone went. While leaving the waiting room someone (I can’t remember who) grabbed me by my shoulders and said “You don’t know? He didn’t make it. He didn’t make it.”
I don’t remember much about what happened after that. All I do recall is being outside the hospital throwing up. Not really crying, but emptying my stomach because that was the only reaction my body had to the loss of my father.
After my dad died, I had to readjust to life without him. Losing a parent can change you, but losing your dad when you’re a daddy’s girl transforms you.
Here are several ways I changed after losing my dad:
1. I became attached
I clung to unimportant things. A broken computer. Songs. Old shoes. An ex boyfriend. Even a box. I clung to everything that existed while he was alive. Anything that he could have possibly touched or even liked. It was as if I wanted to have some fabric of his existence to hold on to. It was hard to let an ex-boyfriend go because he was the only man my dad met. The only one he would ever get to meet. I didn’t realize I was clinging to things until my friend told me to stop caring about things that don’t matter after I didn’t want to throw away a broken box.
2. I became detached
After a while, events in my life started to seem like they were happening outside of me. It was like I was watching myself live from an outside point of view. I became reckless because it didn’t seem like I was the one living my life. I also had a sense that my dad was looking out for me, so I felt I had some superwoman power that allowed me to be dumb with little consequences. My dad protected me in life, so I believed he had some omnipotent power to protect me in death.
3. I dated differently
My dating life changed drastically. In the 5 years since my dad has been gone, I’ve gone through 2 totally different ideas when it comes to men.
At first I accepted things from men that, before my dad passed, I would never take. I pretty much settled because I was so consumed with finding a man that could provide the comfort and security my dad provided me, I didn’t realize I was just poisoning my self-worth by being with someone that didn’t fit that standard.
I came to that realization when I said to my last ex, “You know, I wouldn’t be with you if my dad was alive.” Not because my dad wouldn’t accept him, but because I wouldn’t accept anyone that didn’t value me.
Then I underwent my second shift. I wouldn’t accept anyone that wouldn’t treat me like my father did. My dad normalized catering to me. I never wanted nor needed anything. He rubbed my feet after track practice. He surprised me by bringing presents and balloons to school on my birthday. I woke up to several chocolate hearts in my room on Valentine’s Day. He encouraged me to be better. He often discussed business ideas and talked about life and dreams and treated me as his equal, although I was just his daughter. Any man that didn’t fill those expectations were dropped after a week.
When my dad passed I was broken in a way. I’ve spent the last 5 years since his death trying to piece myself back together, and make sense of life without my best friend. I’m still figuring things out, but at least I had the chance to know him.