"Daddy's Little Princess"

by Michelle Cader
(Santa Rosa, Ca)

My wonderful doting Father died suddenly from a heart anyurism (spelling sorry) at the most important part of my life- age 14. I wasn't very mature but once he died boy was that a wakeup call. It has been 10 years since his passing, I admit it did get easier but there is not a single day a memory of him doesn't runs through my head. I've got pictures everywhere. My favorite is one of my Father and I riding the tea cups at the local fair. Him and I held this tradition from age 4 to age 13. He was always my biggest fan and all the years I played soccer he was always screaming cheering me on from the sidelines.

How do I begin explaining my Father and why he was so special is difficult to put into words. My Mother stated home with my two young brothers and he worked hard to not only put food on the table but to make sure we had extra's for vacations etc. My Mother and Father made a great team, my Mother would cook family meals daily and take me to art classes, Tap Dance/Jazz Dance helping with homework. She was always more cautious than my Dad, he was very calm and laid back. I thought I had the "All American Family." We had such happy childhoods, filled with my Mother and Father revolving their lives around us. My dad would do things behind my mom's back like talk on the phone when I was supposed to be "grounded" and he'd take me clothes shopping regularly (I'm talking hours of shopping and usually $600 later.) My mom looked the other way because she knew it was special Daddy Daughter bonding time. I'll never forget my Dad sitting me on his knees at age 6 talking to me about how to make sure any man I go out with should treat me like a princess and nothing less. He was so serious about this, we had talks everynight during star trek but I mainly remember this one because I thought it was silly and wasn't going to be dating for many years to come. However, I always trusted and followed his advice and knew I would someday want to marry a man who treated me like my Father was to my Mother. Oh how he loved her with all his heart, they were very much in love my mom never stressed out too much and always had a beautiful smile while playing with my brothers and I.

My Father tells my Mother he thinks he had a small heart attack and had chest pain and arm pain. She was about to call 911 but he insisted on her driving him. He never liked to cause any spectacles. The hospital ran tests made him run on the treadmill, they did an EKG and x ray. Everything appeared normal. Protocol back then was to keep a heart attack or suspected heart attack patient for three days and monitor them. My mom said he was totally fine and didn't appear worried the least bit.

The third night was when we recieved horrible news. Caller ID just came out so I was on the other line with a friend. I had a argument earlier with a boyfriend and thought it was him calling repeatedly. The dr. Called three times so I picked up the call. A frantic doctor told me to get my mom immediately. I ran upstairs and remember her sitting on the floor (yes the days without chordless phones) and the white pale face that came over her still haunts me. She just kept saying, "what no I just saw him, go check you made a mistake" I'm assuming since the call lasted three or four minutes he explained what had happened. She didn't burst into tears yet. She just kept shaking her head thinking no not possible. She hung up looked at me and said go wake your brothers and meet me downstairs. I thought at worst he had a heart attack and was in surgery or something. The thought that he was dead didn't cross my mind because my mom seemed so emotionless and calm. (I now realize she was in shock.) we sat in a circle; Jacob was 5 and Jason was 7 and she emotionlessly stated, "tonight you Father went with the Angels" my brothers didn't understand until relatives started showing up, but I knew what she meant. I ran outside at 10pm in the pouring rain screaming at God, crying hysterically, and vomiting.

The next few days mom didn't leave her bedroom except to use her toilet in her bedroom bathroom. My aunt got her anxiety and sleeping pills and forced her to take them and eat. I knew this because I would peak in and see her sobbing just sitting there like a zombie. I didn't really say a word to her and the funeral was about 3 days later. She went with relatives to plan the Catholic funeral at our church and spent hours with his lifeless body laying in that casket. I only saw his body at the wake the night before and at the funeral. I remember thinking how peaceful he looked.

For some odd reason I had a fit over the mortision taking his blood out of his body and filling his lifeless body with preservatives. Don't know why this was so tough for me. I think because it finalized his actual death. The fact that he had no blood in his body. The funeral and days passing were a blur. I don't think I slept more than three hours a day for two weeks until I went back to school. I remember people bringing over meals and cleaning our house but I hardly ate and my brothers who had now seen their Father's dead body just cried to no end.

Fast forward a few months. I felt isolated because although mom would put a fake smile on I'd hear her prayers and sobs through my bedroom wall. I didn't say a word really until years later. Yes I got councelling but her and I didn't discuss my Dad. My mom would drive somewhere she had been a dozen times in our own town and get lost, pull out a map and cry hysterically. Luckily, I isolated myself and only saw this on a few occasions.

Weird things would happen like the tv turning itself on and flipping channels. Mom brought it to repair shop twice and they looked at her like she was a loonie saying it didn't do that for them in the shop. Lights would flicker, on caller ID were what resembled letters (you know when you can make the calculator say hello upside down - same concept) "HiRon" this happened about 8 times. And no numbers could even formulate what we were seeing. Or his old work would pop up saying "Tower Road Wine" the phone rang no one wad there. My moms windshield wipers turned themselves on and off for a good 8 months. (the car mechanic also thought she was crazy.)

Now it is 10 years later, (and there is so much more to my grief process but my hands are getting tired) and I find myself stuck in the fear of abandonment issue. I'm literally tearing my life apart and hurting my relationships due to pushing others away. The pain over loosing my Father at such a critical developmental stage in my life really seemed to cause post traumatic stress syndrome. I didn't know how to cope. I cried alone and myself to sleep for two years not once discussing it with my mother. My heart ached so badly for her loss as well. I literally feel like I was living in an earthly form of Hell- feelings of sorrow and loss so deep and having his face always poping into my head along with his voice. (sadly 10 years later i cannot remember his voice much.) I am so scared
of being dragged through the mud again so I put up a constant barrier of protection. Grief councilors told me that would go away. Well here I sit 10 years later crying as I write this missing him to no end and loving him still tremendously. How do I take the barrier down? It's causing everything to shatter around me leaving my loved ones feeling they are to blame. It is not them it is me.

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