I just lost my Dad.

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Those words still hurt so much to say. It hurts to know he’s gone.

We expected it last year as we went through 9 of his 11 surgeries together, all open heart surgery related. His 12th was to be the Wednesday following his death…again, I was to be there for this one as well. I only missed for sick, contagious children and once on an out-patient surgery for out of state guests. For all others but those 2, I was there, hours on end sitting in waiting rooms, sometimes with children, but most of the time, just Mom and I.

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I don’t have many regrets because I was there. For all of his doctors appointments, pre-ops, post-ops, countless lab work, x-rays or CAT scans, pre-surgery, post surgery….days and days, upon weeks and weeks of hospital visits, rehab facilities….until pretty soon, most of my 2013 was filled with Dad.  

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Some days were awful, awful days and all we did was cry.  Some days we were so exhausted from all of it, we just wanted to stop, sit down, and do nothing.  Some days were too traumatic and scary to talk about.  Some days we weren’t sure if he would ever leave the surgical room alive….much less the hospital.  One particular surgery in particular was very serious, and Mom and I sat in the waiting room together, alone, listening in shock at the awful news coming from the surgery.  We sat, and we planned how we would break the news to those who didn’t come….and we planned a funeral.  But he did come through, only by the grace of God. 

And the appointments continued, and the visits continued, and life went on, always filled with Dad and Mom and my children.

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I started calling them Dates with Dad:  grocery shopping for 2 families, church, hospital, drs appointments, hair cuts, they all ran into an entire year and a half spent with Mom and Dad…..lots of laughter, lots of tears, lots of pain, lots of gas, lots of time, lots and lots and lots of hugs and kisses and prayers…..all rolled into the worst and BEST year ever, full of memories.

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Some days are painful to remember, some days are happy and full of laughter and love.  

I will miss him.  His death this time, was not expected, and it hurt more to lose him.

I regret not taking MORE pictures of him.  I regret not taking more pictures of him with my children that are so little and will only remember him through pictures and stories we tell them.  

I regret not going over THAT day and repairing the fence myself.  I could fix a fence, I’m sure of it, I’m my Dad’s daughter….he would teach me!  I could have fixed that fence.  We did everything else together, I could do one more thing for him.  

But instead, I’m left knowing that the very last time I saw my Dad alive, I was at their house doing something for them that they needed.  Usually, when I left, I would go to my Dad and stoop down to him and hug him and kiss him on the cheek and tell him “see you later”.  But this LAST time, HE stood up and he hugged me so tight and he said, “I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.  And I love you so much.  Good bye.”  

I’m sure there was a “have fun” “drive safe” as we were leaving on vacation the very next day…..but he expressed how PROUD of me he was.  And countless times over the year and a half, he told me “THANK YOU” for all I did for them….and there were a lot of “I’m sorry” thrown in too.  He knew it was hard to do it, he knew it cost a lot of time and money to do this and care for my family, and care for a foster son too.  He knew.  He knew who was there.  And he knew what it cost.

But I always told him it was an HONOR to do it.  It was a BLESSING to be there.  And I LOVED it.  And I really did.

You see, God granted us an extra year and a half with him and I didn’t waste it.  We spent it together.

I will never regret that.  

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Please don’t waste time with your parents or grandparents.  When it’s over, it’s over, and you don’t want to have any regrets.  Remembrances of them are nice, but nothing replaces that time together.  

I’ll miss you Daddy.

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