The last memory I have of my dad is at the Savannah International Airport. It was 7:30 in the morning and the smell of the pretzel stand in the terminal made me want to throw up. I was arguing with a security officer at the security check point who was convinced my laptop needed to go through the scanner twice. As I grabbed my stuff and put my shoes back on, my mom annoyingly poked me and said, "wave!!! Emma, waaave!" She was standing on her toes, jumping up and down, waving like a maniac at my dad who was standing at the top of the ramp doing the exact same thing. I rolled my eyes, but waved anyways. At that moment a group of people walked by, blocking his view.
And that was the last time I ever saw him.
If I even began to list the 'what-ifs', you'd be reading a novel. What if we had missed our flight and had to wait another day for the next one? We would have been there with him and we could have helped him. What if I had called right after it happened? He would have been able to answer the phone and I could have called 911. What if the man in the room next to him had heard him collapse? He could have come to help him.
I could sit in my room all day and run through these scenarios, but at the end of the day, it doesn't change a thing because I can't change anything.
My emotions are off the Richter Scale. One second I'm OK. The next I want to throw something through the window. I want someone to hold me. I'll punch the next person that touches me. I can't sleep alone. I can't sleep at all. I'm laughing. I'm crying. I'm numb.
I haven't yet experienced that one cry. You know...the one where everything hits you like a tidal wave and OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO THROW UP I'M CRYING SO HARD. That one. Sure, I collapsed on the sidewalk outside the house when I heard the news. The neighbors stood on their porch, as severely confused as I was. And I've burst into tears when my mom and sister have lost it, or when people make random visits at the house. But I'm terrified that one good cry is going to sneak up on me while I'm standing in the grocery store, debating if it's worth spending an extra $1.50 0n the organic head of lettuce. Or while I'm sitting in class and the professor is droning on about censorship in Japan.
Everyone keeps telling me if I need anything, anything at all, just ask. But the one thing I need, the one thing that would make this all better, make this nightmare end........they can't give me. I don't need flowers. I don't need a hug. I don't need another goddamn tray of assorted pastries. I need my dad.
I'm scared of what happens after the funeral. After the house is empty and everyone has left. Everyone is going to go on with their lives; they already are. No one knows how this feels right now. It's selfish of me to expect everyone to drop what they're doing, stop having fun and cry because I'm crying. I want to hang out with my friends, go to awful house shows, ride my bike, and go to class, because that's what everyone else is doing. But I'm always going to hold this burden in my hands and he's always going to be in the back of my mind. I don't want to think about what's going to happen after my sister graduates and my mom is left here alone. I don't want to think about my wedding day and who will give me away. I don't want to think about my future children. But that's all that's on my mind.
Everyone keeps telling me, "everything happens for a reason." I don't think everything happens for a reason. I just think this is life. And things just happen. And we deal with them. He spent a year in Iraq. He finally retired. He was going to finally be home with us for good in 18 days. He was going to work at MTSU and I was going to have lunch with him every day. But that all vanished in an instant and now I just have to accept that fact and deal with it.
If you have read this far, I'm sorry if I made you cry. I'm sorry if this is miserably depressing. But this is just what I'm dealing with at this point in time and I'm just being honest. I know things will get better, it's just going to take some time. Writing all this has helped a lot because I'm awful when it comes to talking about my feelings.
I will leave you with this though. Before we left Georgia, my dad took us to Tybee Island. We climbed to the top of a lighthouse and clung to the wall after reaching the top. We all stood there as the wind whipped through our hair and took in the view. My dad held my mom's hand and asked, "Isn't this beautiful?"