By Ariana Brasman
I can still remember waking up to his wet mustache kisses on my cheek each morning. I can still hear him whispering to my mom those four precious words: “That’s my little girl.” I still relive our memorable father-daughter vacations from experiencing Halloween Horror Nights for the first time to our stay at the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas. I can still feel myself wrapping my arms around his big teddy bear belly feeling so safe and protected. My dad was a memorable man.
On February 4, 2009, my life changed forever. My father jumped off the balcony of his five-story high condo. Three months after my 16th birthday, he chose to take his own life. In my father’s case, he was suffering from severe depression, being addicted to prescribed pain medications and going into bankruptcy. Death by suicide—it’s sudden, unexpected and shocking. It happens fast without any warning.
My father was a powerful lawyer who had worked for the Ritz Carlton hotel. But, as the years went on and he worked long hours, he started to develop health problems. One medication led to another and another. Growing up he faced many struggles, but he always had this drive and work ethic that helped him succeed through college and then in law school. I really respected how hard he worked and the obstacles he had to overcome. With college graduation right around the corner, I owe it to him to make it to the finish line. My dad always told me to go after my dreams, to go for a career choice I’ll be happy with and not what necessarily makes the big bucks.
So, how did I learn to move forward after his death? I spent months having dreams about him not actually being dead. In my dreams, we would talk and I always asked why he left, but he would say, “I’m right here.” It took me almost six months to make the connection that he is always there to watch over me, but not physically present.
In a crazy way, these dreams were actually my coping mechanism. By talking to him in my dreams, I was able to get out all the emotions I felt that I couldn’t express verbally. I suffered with denial for months before coming to the realization that I was never going to be able to wrap my arms around him again.
No more wet morning kisses. No more father-daughter vacations. No more hearing him call me his little girl. All those moments that I took for granted turned into the fondest memories I have of him now. A part of me will always be missing. A void will forever be present in my heart, but the more that time passes the easier the process is to move forward. Time really does help heal wounds.
Now that time has passed, it’s the big moments in life that his absence is felt the most. He was not at my high school graduation and the pain felt as if a wasp were stinging my entire body. He will not be present at my college graduation; he won’t be there to walk me down the aisle and give me away at my wedding. But, most of all, he won’t ever get to know my future children. Those are the moments where the closed wound gets reopened, and the pain feels as strong as it did the day he died.