January 20, 2005 was the worst day of my life. I not only lost my father, but my best friend. My father, Ryan O’Neal Stephens, was 38 years old when he passed away. He loved my sister and I with all of his heart. He used to check us out of school every Friday just to spend some extra time with us.
He struggled with kidney failure and was put on dialysis until he could find a match for surgery. Although I was a young girl, I could not only clearly remember the everyday struggle my father went through which later lead to his death, but also the journey I had to endure without his presence..
Growing up without a father was not the easiest journey. Losing my father was the worst thing that could happen to me. I was only six going on seven years old when he died.
I can clearly remember waking up friday morning, getting out of bed, and walking to the living room area where I saw my mother staring into mid air with a blank emotionless look on her face. While moderately rubbing my eyes, I asked “Mommy what’s wrong?” She pulled me to sit on her lap as she began to explain what happened last night. “I have to tell you something, but you have to promise me that you’ll be strong, okay?” I nodded slowly as I stared deeper and deeper into her eyes, not knowing that the worst possible thing that an almost 7 year old could hear was seconds away from being said. “Your father passed last night.” Those words traveled through my tiny ears and processed as an endless echo for several minutes.
Although I was a young girl, I had an advanced maturity level to understand exactly what had occurred. A mixture of emotions roamed through my body as I fought the urge to yell. It did not take long for tears to fall down my face and accept that my father was really gone.
It not only hurt me while I was young, but having to grow up without him made life even worse. He died from kidney failure in 2005. It would hurt me to go to school and see other people’s fathers drop them off at school. I will never forget the time when my school had a father and daughter dance and I could not attend it. Although my mother remarried, her husband did not take the liberty of stepping up to be a father figure. It bothered me for several years, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to come to the satisfaction that one cannot beg someone to do something they do not want to do.
My mother raised me to be an independent individual. I truly respect her for that because if it wasn’t for her, I would be in a situation where I would feel as if I needed someone in order to continue life. With the help of my mother, she helped me realize that is okay not to be okay sometimes. This is not something that you will get over in a week’s time frame; it takes time to heal from losing someone. No one will know what you’re going through unless they have experienced something similar. It’s okay to have sad and angry days. They do not define the original you.
Instead, it shows that you are human. Be mindful that not everyone is going to be able to help you simply because they may not know what to say, but appreciate their effort for trying. Losing a loved one is a very emotionally numb experience that a person will never get over but will learn to endure throughout life. Just remember that you’re not alone, you can do this, and you will push through.