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'Daddy, This Is What I Wish You Would Have Told Me Before You Took Your Life'

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

“Daddy, these are the things I wish you would have told me before you took your life…”

As I sit in my local café with my steaming cup of coffee, notebook in front of me, ready to start jotting down ideas for my next creative project, I notice a young father and his little girl placing their order at the “way too tall” counter. The little girl’s face is lit with excitement and anticipation for her fruity, frosted and sprinkled drink from the friendly, smiling barista. She seems to genuinely love her job — smiling at people, creating her own type of masterpieces for their pleasing delight and enjoyment. But, there is a familiar look I see in the barista’s eyes as she looks gently at the little girl of about 8 years old: it feels like envy, pain… it’s a look of loss. I know this look so well. I spot it almost immediately in ordinary strangers I come across every day.

As the barista handed the little girl her fantastic drink, she smiled tenderly at her and said these words, “You take care of him, OK?” She did this all the while gesturing towards the little girl’s father and then winked at the little girl. The little girl responded with a giggle, “I will always take care of my daddy. As a matter of fact, I’m going to marry my daddy and live with him forever and ever.” The father blushed but was totally enamored by the unconditional love and admiration his little girl had for him. And… then they were gone.

As I glanced down at my notebook, I realized I had scribbled down a single sentence. I tried to focus and refocus my eyes to make out what it said, and then it finally became clear. It said, “Daddy, these are the things I wish you would have told me before you took your life…”

Losing a parent is shattering at any age, however, the loss of a parent as a young child is life-altering, so much so in the way that it will change the course of your life, every decision you make, every choice you make; it molds you into a person you may not recognize. You start to wonder where that little child with the free spirit, the wild dreams (that were all going to come true) disappeared to. It robs you of your innocence. It alters your future.

I’d like to convince you that losing either a mother or father at a young age affects and changes you in the exact same way, but it doesn’t. Each of our parental figures plays a certain role, example in our lives and contributes to our growth, our maturity and our life’s adventures or misadventures.

As I sit and contemplate all of this and the loss of my own father (to a tragic suicide when I was 8), I begin to comprehend that I was/am guilty of making unfavorable choices, especially when it came to men in my life because I start to understand that in my 39 years of life I’ve been diligently searching for the one most important person I lost in my life: my daddy.

Grieving the loss of a parent to suicide is not like grieving other deaths. There is often no closure. Every morning when I open my eyes, I relive the death all over again. It never gets better. It is almost like a part of my soul dies every day. I can’t breathe. I can’t think.

I searched for the love lost in every man I met. I searched for the admirable looks and gestures… the unconditional, unparalleled love. I noted that I always, always searched and/or attracted the broken or emotionally unavailable. Why?

The only answer I can give you is that it was/is because in my own twisted, tortured mind, I’ve thought if I could find one of these “broken” men, much like my dad, I could/would convince them I was special enough to make them love me, to change them and make them realize my love was worth living and surviving for. I failed…repeatedly.

I wish my dad had sat me down and told me to never let my phenomenal heart and spirit be broken and destroyed by people who did not deserve my valuable time, my empathetic nature, my pure being. I wish he told me if a man makes me cry more than makes me smile to abort mission because it would never change; I would just become collateral damage.

I wish he would have told me the undeviating calamity that would plague my existence when he decided to take his life. I yearned for him to elucidate all the immoral, unscrupulous choices I’ve made in my life after this unexpected, unforgivable and catastrophic loss.

I wish he would have warned me to not look for him in every male I met. I needed him to tell me I would never find what I was so desperately searching for all these years: unconditional love, people who wouldn’t abandon me.

I wish he would have told me I was special and entitled to love and happiness. I wish he would have told me that because I, myself, feel broken that I would attract those who were also broken; he needed to advise me that I do not have the power to fix other people… only the power to fix and repair myself.

I wish he would have made clear that no matter how relentlessly I searched, no substance, chemical or addictive process would cease the never-ending pain, suffering, guilt and feelings of worthlessness that still plague me today after 31 years.

I wish he would have told me that no matter what successes I had/have in life I would never feel they were/are adequate.

There is never a day I don’t feel sadness, loss and intense pain. I find myself putting on the same façade my dad did: the smile but the eyes glistening with tears, the laughter but the broken soul. I feel utterly alone most days — just like the day he decided to leave and abandon me, like a deep, dark entity is pushing down on me.

I never got to hold my dad’s hand and say goodbye. I never got to hug him and tell him how much he meant to me. Most importantly, I never heard those much-needed words from him, “I love you, Cheryl, and this is not your fault.” I feel so broken at times, so lost. In some ways I feel like he manifested his twisted, tortured soul into mine; I am him. He is me.

Please take this true story, and implement it into your life. Know there is help available. Suicide can transfer pain onto someone else. I urge all of you to reach out to those who are suffering. Be supportive, be understanding… Just be there. Please know that you are loved. You do matter and help is always available.

“Your story isn’t over yet…”

Getty image by Bobex-73

Originally published: June 26, 2019
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