On Sept. 22, 2020, my dad, Joe Reese, was found dead in his apartment due to a heart attack.
He was 55 years old and had the biggest personality. He was always willing to do something crazy and could make anyone laugh.
I got the call that Tuesday night and was blindsided. I’m only 19, and yet my whole life changed in an instant. I couldn’t believe it at first, and all I could say was no. I wasn’t ready to live without him, yet I had to.
I was in my dorm room when I was told the news. I completely broke down into tears and loud cries, I didn’t care if the whole building heard me. I was devastated. I sat on the floor of my room and cried for what seemed like forever.
I picked myself up off the floor and tried to pack a small bag to go home with, but I couldn’t move without feeling nauseous. This was a pain that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I was lucky to have supportive roommates who were there at the time to get my stuff together.
The next day felt unreal, between emailing my professors to let them know why I wasn’t going to be in class and responding back to all of the text messages I was getting. It was never something I thought I would have to do.
Dealing with loss and the grieving process was all new to me since this was my first significant loss. I was told that I would feel a lot of different emotions and that none of them are wrong. It was true. I felt confused, upset, shocked, anxious, and even angry.
As more days went on, I had a hard time coping with the loss of my dad. At some moments, I felt that I was just fine. Keeping myself busy was helpful because it helped me keep my mind off of it, but right when I had a moment of silence or downtime, I would break down.
The hardest part about the whole thing is that my memories with my dad are now just memories and nothing more. I will never be able to make more memories with him again. All of the special moments and life events that your dad is supposed to be at, he just won’t be there.
He will not see me graduate college, start a career or meet his grandkids. But the part that hurts me the most is that I will not have my dad walk me down the aisle at my future wedding.
Grief comes in waves. One moment I will be calm, and the next, I feel like I’m drowning. It’s been getting better over time, but I still have my moments.
I can’t help but feel guilty. My dad lived alone, so it was a couple of days before anyone noticed that something was up. He was dead in his apartment for a few days before we found him. I’ll never be able to forgive myself for letting him be there alone for as long as he was. I feel guilty that I wasn’t the best daughter and was not always nice to him. Even though I know that it’s normal for a teenage girl to get into arguments with their dad, it’s just different now that he’s gone.
Through all the sadness, I try to keep his memory alive. I tell my friends about crazy and funny memories we have together, I look at old text messages between us, and I keep a picture of him on my keychain.
But nothing will change the fact that he’s still gone.