It snowed February 17, which was fitting. It always snowed on his birthday, so why not on the day of his death as well?
I’ve been a ghost these past couple days – here, but not really here. My heart is numb, but somehow it seems to know to keep beating. It’s so surreal – I can put food in my mouth and chew, I can collapse into my bed at night and sleep in fitful bursts, I can smile at Dexter’s antics, but the world is not the way it’s supposed to be.
My dad passed away unexpectedly on Sunday. He was at home with my stepmom, getting ready to go to his favorite bar to meet all his friends to celebrate the Ravens Super Bowl win one last time for the year. By the time she found him in the bathroom, there was nothing anyone could do. He had just turned 56 years old.
Our relationship was complicated – he was a diehard conservative (read: wrong. You left, dad, so I get the last word), and I inherited my stubbornness from him. It can be hard for two people who are so alike to really get along. But no matter what, I was always daddy’s little girl. When we’d go down to Austin to visit, it didn’t matter that I’d just spent days tearing apart his arguments on Facebook, or scolding him for still believing the birther nonsense – he would pull me into his arms for a big bear hug (even though he wasn’t much taller than me) and whisper “I love ya, kid. I’m so proud of you.”
He loved to brag about me – about my graduation from Vanderbilt, then Texas Tech (though of course he would have preferred UT), and my passionate love of Ravens football. For two years before the Ravens came to town, we had a Canadian league team called the Baltimore Stallions. Before every home game, he’d carefully paint the Stallions logo on my cheek, and glow with pride every time his 10 year old daughter pointed at the field and yelled “’I’ formation! Handoff to Pringle!”
I have his big blue eyes, his dogmatic passion for what I believe is right, and the constant stress and anxiety that likely killed him.
My heart is aching for me, but truly broken for my stepmom. She married him just over 8 years ago (even though I warned her she was too good for him), and she loved that man with all her heart, despite his faults. I know 8 years wouldn’t be enough for me with Charming, and I just can’t imagine the depth of the pain she’s feeling. Selfishly, I don’t want to have to. The soul-crushing agony in my chest is too much as it is.
We’re bringing my dad back to Baltimore for the funeral, so I picked my stepmom up at the airport yesterday afternoon. I fell apart the moment I saw her. She looked so lost. We stood in the middle of the terminal at Reagan, just holding each other and crying. No one deserves to feel pain like this.
We all lost something different. I lost my father, my grandmother lost her son (right on the heels of losing her father, her husband and her brother-in-law), and my stepmom lost the love of her life. And we’ll all be grieving for a long time.
Goodbye, Daddy. I love you so much – make sure you fill Grandpa and Uncle Junior and Poppop in on that amazing Super Bowl win, and I’ll see you again some day.