I never thought seven years would pass as fast as it has. Missing you never gets easier. I have good days and bad days. The holidays, birthdays, and Father's Day are the hardest.
I'll never forget the day we lost you. I can't remember the movie I was in when Dad called to tell me that you were in the hospital. Now it just seems like a waste of time. I wish I could have been there, next to you. I played off this hospital stay as "just a bit of pneumonia" and you would be fine. Still to this day, I wish I would have picked up the phone and told you how much I love you.
I was napping when I got the call. Dad's voice just didn't seem, right. It was strained, his tone was sharp, there was no joking. The words cut me like a knife, "Ashlee, where's your mom?". Still to this day I get the chills when I think of that moment. The moment I realized that something was indefinitely, wrong. I begged him to tell me what had happened. All he did was repeatedly ask for my mom. I confirmed she wasn't home and pleaded with my dad to tell me what had happened. There was a huge lump in my throat, I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, adrenaline flooded my system.
When Dad told me what had happened I couldn't believe it. I remember crying, hearing the tears on the other end of the phone. I begged him to tell me he was kidding, that it was all some sick joke. He wasn't gone. Not my best friend. Not the person I had spent 18 birthday's with. Not MY Papa.
The next memory I have is of my mom running up the hill to her new house in Georgia, tears in her eyes. I remember throwing myself into packing, telling them I was going to get on a plane tonight. I had to be home. Papa needed me. Everyone told me that it wasn't a good idea to fly. I was hysterical. I didn't want to be 3,000 miles from home. I remember calling my work, telling them I wasn't coming back for my shift in a few days. They understood. I told my mom I wasn't staying at her house. Because they had just moved, none of their stuff had arrived yet, there was nothing to distract me. We all piled into my mom's car and went to eat, and shop.
The next day I could barely wait to get on that plane. I cried the entire flight from Atlanta to Houston. I barely even remember getting off the plane. I attempted to eat spaghetti in the terminal because I was starving, but took a few bites and remembered that Papa would never again taste Grandma's spaghetti and I had to throw it out. The plane from Houston to the Springs was a blur. I know a nice lady handed me a few pages of her Sudoku in an attempt to keep my mind off everything. It sort of worked, the tears were less frequent at least.
I got off the plane, hugged my family and just collapsed into the arms of my (at the time) boyfriend. Being home, seeing their tear stained faces made it real. Papa was gone, and I didn't even say goodbye. The next days are a blur of people, tears and food. So much food. And the last thing I even wanted to do was eat. I was beyond numb. It felt like there was an enormous hole in my chest where my heart used to be. I remember begging my dad to just leave me home one afternoon because I couldn't stand the thought of more people, more food, and more "I'm so sorry"'s. It wasn't going to bring him back. I look back and I know that everyone meant well and that they were doing it out of love for us and for Papa but at the time I was so angry that I just wanted them all to leave me alone.
I remember the wake. Standing in that room with Papa's body 50 feet away. I remember believing that if I didn't look it wouldn't be real. That I would wake up from this horrible dream and I could pick up the phone and talk to him. I avoided most of the people and I avoided the front of the room. I sat in the back crying, rocking back and forth. At some point I remember being supported and half carried to the front of the room by my (at the time) boyfriend and dad. I remember the way he looked. Almost like he had been stuffed with a cardboard box. That wasn't my Papa. He didn't have a round belly, his skin an almost unnatural flesh color. I remember a pink tint to his lips. But I had to accept the unacceptable, he was gone. He was laying there so peacefully in his favorite CC Tiger jersey. I'm sure I only stood up there for a minute, but still to this day it seems like hours.
The funeral is a blur. But I know that I still cannot listen to Amazing Grace and not cry. I remember being so exhausted in every way possible. I could barely keep my eyes open, but at the same time I avoided sleeping until I could not physically stay awake any longer.
Sometimes I find myself reaching for my phone to call him. Only to remember I don't have the number to Heaven. I'm so sad he never got to meet Kaylin. But I'm sure he's looking down laughing at me right now as I type this with a constant flow of tears. He's telling me that he sent that little girl to me, because he knew I needed her. He sent her special, just for me. I'm sad that I can't just have one more hug and know that no matter what I'm going through right now, it will all be okay and that he loves me. I know I will always want one more. Because when you lose someone who means so much to you, one more is just never enough.
He would fix anything he could. I remember countless Barbie heads being reattached as he yelled about the obnoxious number of naked Barbies we had. I remember how he loved Corona, and sprayed the daylights out of an area of his favorite Mexican restaurant . I remember his little green coin holder that smelled like years of loose change. I remember how much he bickered with my grandma because she would move stuff around on him, "Dammit, Ginger!". I remember the trap he made to catch the pesky squirrels in the backyard, and how excited he got when he actually caught one. He would drive them to Palmer Park and let them go, so they would have a nice big area to run around in. I remember how much he loved fishing. Boy did he love to fish. I remember how he taught us to use maggots and would always make his own flies for fly fishing. I remember curling up next to him in his chair, pushing off the crossword puzzle that was meticulously folded. He always had room for us in that chair, even at 16 that was still my favorite spot in the house. Every now and then when I close my eyes I can imagine myself in that chair, my head on his chest.
I miss him, so much. I love you Papa. Always and Forever
April 13th 1934 - July 28th 2006