I knew my heart would feel heavier than usual. Today, February 7th, makes a year since my father passed away. So much time has passed, but the pain still lingers.
Someone reading this might have lost a parent and can relate to the feelings associated with that. But then there were other feelings I didn’t know how to explain, considering the fact I was mourning someone I’ve never met. I have never met my father in person, at least not as an adult. In fact, I didn’t know anything about him except his name for 18 years of my life. How I got in touch with him is a very long story, but let’s just say that the summer before I started my freshmen year, here at UAlbany, was very life-changing. Right before I left to go away to school for the first time, I finally found the other half of my family and the timing was too perfect. Moments like that always led me to believe that everything happens for a reason.
Unfortunately, as I was starting to get to know him, my father grew sick. I tried to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the worst and as much as I tried, I wasn’t as prepared as I’d like. Even when I saw it coming, it didn’t make the pain any easier.
When I found out he wasn’t going to make it, I couldn’t believe it. Because at that point in time, I already had 2 phone conversations with him. I had many of his relatives on Facebook. I found out I had older siblings and I was even in touch with one of them regularly. I made plans to visit one of my sisters and my father for Spring Break in March of last year. It was hard to accept the fact he was going to pass away before we had a chance to meet. For a week, I tried to prepare myself for the grief that would follow whenever I received that phone call or text saying, “he’s gone.” And surely a week later, it came. And everything I did throughout that week did not prepare me one bit. All of the talking, the crying, the writing, the working out, and the praying couldn’t protect me from feeling my heart sink to the lowest point it has ever been. That made me even sadder; it’s like I knew this was coming and still could not prepare myself. But sometimes you can’t prepare to hear the worse news. It sucks so much but I can tell you that things do get better.
In one year alone, I received the Presidents Award for Leadership, Spellman Academic Achievement Award, completed a summer teaching fellowship with Generation Teach in Denver, CO; went to an Adele concert, went to Mt. Rushmore, and started this blog. If you asked me if I would have received or completed any of these things on this exact day a year ago, I would have told you no. I would have told you that I am considering withdrawing from school because I am falling behind so much and the emotional pain is too much to bear.
But here I am, proud to say I’ve done all of those things and much more. Of course, I woke up crying today. I am still dealing with the grief and I probably will for the rest of my life. But for the last year, I have been going to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provided by UAlbany, and I can truly say, that has helped in my healing process. It has not been easy and every day is going to be a challenge. Anniversaries of death will remind you of your loved one and the pain will resurface. But remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished within that year. It will help you put things in perspective. You have been hurting but you’ve been moving forward.
“You will feel better than this. Maybe not yet. But you will. You just keep living, until you feel alive again.” – Call the Midwife
This year of grief has taught me so much about myself. It has taught me that I am strong. That does not mean I have been holding in how I feel. It just means that I took my pain and found a way to let it motivate me. As I am in my last semester of college and I am preparing to apply to grad school now. This is a huge accomplishment and I am happy to say that I continued on to get to where I am now despite all that 2016 threw my way. I always think to myself, “What would my father say to me if he were still here?” I would want him to say, “I’m proud of you, Kerry”. The thought of that keeps me going.
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About the Author:
Class of 2017
Minors: English and Education
Pulled Back to Move Forward