On September 23rd, I experienced true heartbreak that I'd never come close to experiencing up until now. It made the tears shed for every career setback, physical injury, and failed relationship seem foolish. On September 23rd, my father passed away. It felt as if a sword had passed through me, complete inconsolable pain. Even after 2 weeks, it still does not seem possible that I won't come home and see him anymore. My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one and experienced that same pain. I had no idea it could be this intense.
But the pain of losing my father is not what I want to write about today. Instead I'd like to honor him and write about the things that meant most to me. So I can look back and never forget this moment of appreciation for the 29 years that I got to spend with my Dad. My father came out of a generation where fathers were expected to provide for their families financially and be heads of the house in all aspects. I always appreciated the home that he and my mother provided for me and my sisters. Sure, our life wasn't perfect, everyone has disagreements, but I always felt loved. Although I wish I had a closer relationship with my Dad, there was no doubt in my mind that he loved me. I remember once after a bad breakup, crying in my room and my Dad came in, put his hand on mine and offered some words of comfort. All these years I can't remember the exact words but what I do remember is how soft my Dad's features looked for the first time. I knew it pained him to see me hurting. I remember the feeling of comfort, knowing that my Daddy was looking after me, and that he would help me through this difficult time.
About 5 years ago, we had our family pictures taken by Holly Sutor of Sutography Weddings. I had recently started working for Holly as a second shooter and was still very new to photography. At the time, I hadn't quite discovered who I was as a photographer but my parents knew it was something I was seriously pursuing. After the session, my Dad thanked Holly, and asked her to "make a pro" out of me. I was reminded of this a few days after he passed, and how far I've come over all these years, and I'm thankful that my Dad was there through it all. He saw me grow as an artist, attended every art show, and supported my decision to quit my full-time job to dedicate my time to my passion.
I'm forever thankful that the weekend before my Dad passed we spent a morning out in our volunteer ministry, and that I was able to see him so happy and active. He even shared a story I'd never hear about the day he arrived in the United States at age 16. His face was full of child-like glee when he talked about seeing snow for the first time and being so nervous on his first flight. In the days that passed he was in good spirits. We didn't argue any of the days leading up to his death, and when he passed, my family and I believe he did so peacefully and quickly. I will forever be grateful for my Dad.