Remembering my dad today…..

Today is the anniversary of my dad’s accidental death….

It was 19 years ago but some days it still feels so fresh and raw…

This morning, I woke up remembering every single detail of that entire day….and the associated emotions…PTSD does that sometimes…

Thankfully, I am at peace with God and know how to turn to Him to get me through this day…

I will allow myself to feel what I need to feel but will not focus all my time and energy on it….I still have a life to live and I know that he wants me to live it…

My daughter is home for Mardi Gras break so I am going to spend time with her and focus on all the blessings of my life

Here is the link to the blog post I wrote regarding his accident…I share these things because I want other people who go through simialer experiences to know that they are not alone…My dad, my hero…and the first time my world stood still

 

My dad, my hero…and the first time my world stood still

This is a repost from my old blog…written in early morning of 2/14/16..

 

It’s Valentine’s Day morning and a very sullen and an introspective day for me. Not in the way that people may think it is though…….

At some point, I knew that I’d be writing about this and that it would be very difficult. It’s weighing very heavily on my mind now and if I don’t get it out, I will have a complete meltdown by the end of the day…so here goes

I was raised by my step father. My biological father was not cut out to be a dad. I know who he is and I know exactly where I can I find him if I choose to. However, neither he nor his large very “Catholic devoted family” want to be an active part of my life. Growing up, I did see them periodically but I remember a lot of broken promises of ” them becoming a part of my life”. I learned at a very young age that I could not believe them when they told me that. Eventually,  I got tired of being hurt, so I walked away. As a matter of fact, I didn’t tell my own daughter about him or his family until about a year ago.

Honestly, I didn’t need my biological dad nor his family because I had my step dad that walked into my life when I was 3 and raised me as his own. My childhood was not anywhere close to being perfect but my parents loved me and did the best they could under the circumstances. Despite all the negative things, I was very much “daddy’s little girl”. He was only 1 of 3 people I had that I could rely on to always be there for me and he always helped me when he could. Even after he and my mom divorced in 1989, he still continued to be my father.

I met my now ex husband in the early 90’s and we got married on Valentines Day of 1998. (Coincidentally, five years later, I got my finalized divorce papers in the mail on V Day-which would’ve been our anniversary.)

My father took a new job offer about 2 weeks prior to my wedding. After years of working offshore, he finally made his way to working on land. I could never really understand why but I was very upset that he took that position. For whatever reason, I have always had a very strong intuition and I knew something was very wrong about it but I couldn’t understand why I felt that way. 

In any case, I remember my wedding fondly but not because of my ex. It’s the last monumental memory I have of my dad. He was so proud and looked so handsome in his tuxedo. Our father -daughter dance was to “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion. I couldn’t pick out a more perfect song. The lyrics specifically expressed how grateful I was for him, the unconditional love he showed me and everything he did for me that helped me to become the person that I am. 

A couple of weeks passed since my wedding and on March 4th, I woke up feeling very anxious that morning. I was in college at the time and I was feeling so “ancy” that I didn’t even go to my last class and drove straight home instead. When I got home, I turned on the TV and I kept seeing “special reports” of an explosion that took place on some sort of an on land oil field. My heart sunk when I saw it and I tried calling my dad but couldn’t get in touch with him. I couldn’t remember exactly where his new job was but I kept telling myself that it was going to be OK. At the time, cell phones were not as popular as they are now and he didn’t have one . I could only call his house phone. He never answered. I assumed that he was working and I kept telling myself that I was being silly and kept reassuring myself. I really hate how the media reports accidents before families are notified.

Things were very much not OK. Around 11 o’clock that night, I got a phone call from my brother. The explosion that had been all over TV was at my dad’s site.  He was killed, along with 3 other men.

My ex and I immediately went to my dad’s house where the family was meeting up. We were the first to arrive, and our priest, Father Prescott, was sitting on the front porch swing waiting for us. I’ll never forget that. I was raised in a very small town in Evangeline Parish and we were blessed to have the same priest for 20+ years. He knew my family well and he was my saving grace that night.

We went into the house and he sat me down to tell me the details. I’m so grateful that it came from him because I don’t think that I would’ve been able to take it from anyone else. When the explosion happened, it created a pit. The rest of the men were outside of the pit, but my dad had fallen in it.

The next few days were a blur of emotions, chaos and disbelief. At the time, my dad was an alderman for the town he lived in and where we grew up. Naturally, his name and the story got out and my family got a lot of attention. I remember my brother and I having to chase away reporters.

The hardest thing that I ever had to do, so far in my life, was pick out my dad’s coffin and make his arrangements. I remember being in that room with my family trying to hold myself together. When I walked out the room, my best friend, Kim, was waiting for me. She literally had to grab me from behind to hold me up and had to keep telling me to breathe.

We had to wait days before we could have his service. I remember the coroners office continually calling to find out identifying information so they could correctly ID him. We were unable to obtain dental records because if I remember correctly, my dad’s dentist was no longer practicing. We had to resort to other things such as past surgeries to try and help them make the confirmation. There were a lot of calls back and forth.  I’m not 100% sure but I believe they resorted to doing the ID out of compassion alone. His body, or what was left of it, was finally released and we were finally able to have his services. We buried him on March 8th, which would have been his 58th birthday

The days, months and year following went so very slow. I was so angry and hurt. My ex really tried to be there for me the best he could but I don’t think he really knew how to handle things himself. The only people I was able to find any real comfort in was Father P and Kim. Also, I had a family friend that lost his brother in an offshore helicopter accident. He was the only person that could kind of relate to what I was going through.

When I’d close my eyes to go to sleep at night, I’d visualize the entire accident in my mind. I had to stop watching the news and reading the newspapers because it was reported on for a long time and I couldn’t tolerate reading, hearing or seeing it everyday. I was told I developed PTSD. I couldn’t handle seeing fires or anything that would have any kind of reference to the accident. That is precisely why I hate red roses. Red roses were the flowers that I chose for my wedding. My dad was so proud to walk me down the aisle that day. As I said, my wedding was was my last real memory I shared with him. So when it was time to pick his flowers for his funeral spray, I specifically chose red roses. He also loved the vocalists that I had for my wedding so I had her sing for his funeral as well.

In my mind, my wedding, Valentines Day and the accident will always be meshed together as one. The time between Valentines Day and March 8th is  a difficult time for me.

Again, I was very angry after the accident. I specifically remember one day when I was ready to go out on a self destructive binge and out of no where Kim showed up. She always seemed to know when I needed someone. It was as if she could feel it somehow. I made it through that crisis and that night I remember walking to the bedroom but was hit with an overwhelming wave of grief. I found myself on the floor screaming and cursing at God and telling Him that if I was meant to get through it then he needed to give me some kind of sign. At that point, I was in so much pain I just wanted it to all stop.

Two weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. Before I told anyone, my brother had a dream about dad- he told my brother about my pregnancy. 

I was still struggling a lot with grief and anger when I found out. A part of me felt that the pregnancy was some sort of bargaining tool or trade off. I did make it through those feelings when I felt my daughter move inside of me for the first time, however.

Finding out I was pregnant, made me realize that it wasn’t about me anymore and that I needed to start healing and move on. Eventually it did happen,even though at the time, I didn’t think the grief would ever end.

I named my daughter, Zoe. In Greek, it means “life”. The name “Zoe” was not very popular or socially acceptable at the time. A lot of people thought that I was strange for picking that name. It was important to me because of the meaning behind it. She very much showed me the value of the circle of life and helped me to start the healing process- before she was even born.

God and people that loved me carried me through the whole time and I’m so grateful to everyone that was there for me. I can still remember all of my former class mates that were at the wake and the outpouring of love from the community. The town ,where my dad raised me and where he lived and was an Alderman, named a street after him. I m so proud to see his name on that street sign. I don’t go “home” very often but when I do, I always have to stop and see his street.

A year after my dad’s accident, Father Prescott passed away. Two years afterwards, Kim was in a very serious car accident and expired in the hospital a few days later. I will never forget them because I never would have made it through without them.

My fathers senseless and tragic death is just a small part of the challenges that I’ve gone through. I’m opening myself up to share about some of these things now because I want other people, that may be struggling, to know that they are not alone and that there is hope. There is always hope and healing is always possible- no matter how dark and painful things may seem. Pain is only temporary. I encourage any struggling person ,who may be reading this, to please talk to someone and seek help to see you through. If I could get through my dad’s accident, then you can get through whatever you are dealing with. Never ever give up hope.

Thank you for reading and please keep me in your thoughts and prayers for the next couple of weeks.

Peace & love,

~Tiff