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I have been working on this post for two years and today felt like the perfect day to publish it. My dad has been dead for 22-years today and today, I am not okay. I sat in my bathroom this morning and cried because I was overwhelmed with emotions. I’m still triggered by the fact that by dad is not here. On May 5, 1999, I loss one of my favorite people in the world and one of the most influential male figures in my life to gun violence. My dad was 32-years-old when he was murdered. I was only 7-years-old, with my 8th birthday three weeks away. I vividly remember that birthday; continuously glancing at the door every time someone entered, waiting for my dad to walk through the door. I went to his funeral and still somehow hoped he would return and be at my party; reality sunk in that day. I am now 29-years-old, a few weeks from 30, and still feel the effects of losing him. Every milestone I reach, I imagine the pride my das would have felt. I grew up trying to hold on to whatever memories I had of my dad. I cannot even begin to write about the frustration I feel when I attempt to remember what my dad’s voice sounded like, or the frustration I feel when I’m searching for a new picture to post of him, only for the reality to sink in that I’m going to have to re-share the same pictures. Really is, there are no updates of a person once you lose them.

I often wonder to myself, is it possible to ever stop grieving someone? I have questioned if still grieving my dad is normal and if I should still be missing him as much as I do. I have learned over time that everyday won’t be okay and having these feelings is absolutely normal. It is completely okay to still be grieving and missing him; that’s what makes my normal. One thing about death that i do not hear enough is that it sucks. Losing a parent becomes a commonality with age. It is too often that we do not hear about the long-term effects of the never ending battle to manage the feelings and emotions that come from such a heavy loss; they’re indescribable. It is a feeling that one never seems to escape. You hear people say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “He’s in a better place.” Yea sure, that’s first thing I wanted to hear, that he is in a better place. Honestly, nobody wants to hear that. What people need is for others to be there for them because as time moves on, people stop checking in and continue to live their lives, while those who are suffering from the loss are stuck learning how to navigate through life with this huge hole in their hearts, a whole that seem to never refill. Losing a parent at times has felt like an endless void; drifting in revolving temporary shifts of darkness.

Losing a parent is a painful experience. I honestly wish none of us had to experience such a heavy loss. Like any other loss, you have random moments of confusion, sadness, and despair. When you reach milestones in life the one thing you want is share that moment with your parent(s). These moments that are supposed to be so full of joy and happiness, tend to weigh on you. I remember the night I graduated from undergraduate school; my eyes full of tears as we drove back home to Richmond. The idea that my father would have been so proud of me made me break down and cry. He will never be able to witness these milestones because his life was stolen by another. I had never really cried about my dad until that moment but it was the best moment I never knew I needed. People tend to say “things will get better with time.” but they don’t, it just becomes abnormally normal to live without that person. When people say things like that to you, you know they’re trying to comfort you but that comfort is blindly led. For me to be okay, is for my dad to be returned to my life but he can’t because his life was unfortunately cut short. Things become adjustable, even livable, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. I have never stopped missing my dad!

Dad, words cannot truly express just how much I miss you. However, I’m also angry with you and angry with the person who murdered you. I’ll never forget the day I learned the name of the man that took your life. I often watch people spending time with their dad’s and it makes me sad to know I will never again have that moment with you. I still have so many questions that I will never get answered. There are so many moments in life I wish I could have shared with you and there will be so many other moments in life where your presence will be missed. I wish I had more time to get to know you. I know stories of you and I know how much you loved me but it’s still not the same to hear it from you. I hope that I am making you proud. I hope you are watching over me and walking with me as I’m continuing on my own path. I know you would be pleased to know that James is an amazing dad to Rhamel and I. For a long time I felt guilt for wanting to call him dad, feeling like it would erase or overshadow your presence. I now know you would be completely fine with it because I can sense that you have somehow passed the mantle on to him. Dad, I will always love you. Thank you for being the best father to me that you could have during our short time together.