Chapter 4: Coping with losing a parent

When I think about my Dad and how he coped with the loss of my Mother, it literally gives me chills. I am now a Mom and the thought of going through what he did and then having to be the rock for 4 kids…I am in awe. He is truly my hero. I would quite literally want to crawl into my bed and hide. He did exactly the opposite. All 4 of us kids were dealing with losing a parent completely differently and yours truly decided to test my (and his) limits over the next few years. SORRY DAD! I was a really good kid deep down, but I thrived on feeling excitement and pushing the boundaries. I did not take “no” for an answer. Ever. This was sometimes good….sometimes dangerous.

Losing a parent is never easy.

Losing a parent at age 12 is something that you never think you will have to experience. You may know that there are 7 stages of grief. I love this article that does a great job of explaining the stages. and went through every single stage. I may have stayed a little longer in the anger and testing stage, but I eventually hit all 7. Not in any order, but I hit them all throughout my life.

One afternoon I convinced our late-teenager family friend to let me drive his car. I wanted to drive! I certainly knew what I was doing. I was 14 after all? Come on! I convinced him and we hopped in his car, my friend in the back and drove around our neighborhood with the music blaring. Pretty sure it was INXS “Suicide Blonde.” I felt SO cool! We pulled into the driveway and he freaked out and yelled, which caused me to freak out and hit.the.gas.instead.of.the.break.

We slammed into our garage door and dented it halfway in.

Here is where it gets really good.

I had a great idea. We would call the police department and tell them that someone tried to break into our house while we were out getting ice cream. It was perfect. We would be off the hook and no harm no foul. WE ACTUALLY DID THIS. We called the police and told them this. The police officer came over to our house and since my Dad was not home yet, he asked us to explain what happened. So we did! We thought we were in the clear. Then the officer returned and told us that he went next door to ask if the neighbors had seen anything and…they had! They had seen me plow into the garage. BUSTED.

Grounded was an understatement, along with apology notes to the police department and I had to work off the cost of the damage to the garage door. It would have been easy for my Dad to give me a “pass” and excuse this ridiculous behavior for grieving. No. He did the right thing! I was being an asshole kid and needed to learn from my actions.

Our house was an open door for so many of our friends as we grew up and at times, we definitely took advantage of my Dad having to travel for work or being a single parent. I started to smoke cigarettes out of curiosity. My Dad smoked Marlboro Reds, so that is what I started smoking. I started to drink alcohol and smoked some weed. It was fun and it was easy and I felt free. Have you ever seen a movie when a small party turns into a bash, as soon as word gets around that there is an open house? Picture my Dad’s house on a Friday night in 1992. My Dad was out of town for work and I was supposed to be staying at a friend’s house for the weekend. We were having a “couple friends” over to my Dad’s house and that was IT. Just a couple friends. I distinctly remember at 10:00 p.m. that I counted about 100 people in the kitchen alone. I was a Freshman in High School and the entire varsity football team was in my house drinking beers. At one point, the police showed up and one of the football players answered the door and said it was a party for my Dad. SCORE!

That was an epic party and we had the entire next day to clean-up! We had pulled it off and just had to get the house back in order. One small issue. Someone had dumped an entire bottle of red pump soap into the hot tub and dyed the whole thing red. FAIL.

I was not a terrible kid all the time…I was actually a pretty good kid! I just pushed the limits wherever I could and I thrived on having fun and living in the moment. That mindset has carried with me throughout my life and definitely to a fault at times. I want to do everything, never miss anything and live my life to the fullest. It is a fine line and sometimes my husband needs to reel me back in, but life is so precious and so very short. Learn from your past, but do not let it define your future. There are many twists and turns in life’s path and take some of them! Just make sure you get back on the right path when the road gets too bumpy. Keep an eye out for those fireflies when that path gets dark.

They will be there when you least expect it.

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