Today I am completing one journey and starting another one.
On this day 15 years ago, my dad died suddenly of a heart attack at work. I lived 5,605 days with my dad as a physical, living part of my life.
Today is day 5,605 without him.
It’s like I’ve been walking from one line of demarcation to another. The first line, the day of his passing. Constantly looking back, wondering if it was even real. The second one, this day that I knew would come. I honestly can’t even tell you why it feels so significant, but it does.
I learned a lot from my dad when he was here with me. And I’ve learned a lot from him since.
When I was a kid, he taught me a lot about camping – something I’d like to pass on to my own children. He taught me about playing games, and about computers. He taught me how to lose your temper in a moment of weakness, and then to seek forgiveness afterward. He wasn’t perfect. I know that.
In the years since, he’s taught me what it means to be a good, kind, human. There’s this book my oldest sister compiled with notes from people about how much our dad was kind to them. Last year in my drive through window at Starbucks, an old family friend told me that my dad taught him to play guitar, and that he thinks about him every day.
He thinks about him every day. 15 years later.
I think about him every day. But he was MY dad. I can’t even imagine being the kind of person that someone would think of every day. There’s a chance he was exaggerating a bit. I get that. But it’s the sentiment of that that my brain can’t get past. I actually spend time telling myself that my grandkids grandkids won’t have any idea who I am. And that’s ok. It keeps me grounded. Reminds me that there’s life beyond this, and life beyond me in this world.
But now I’ve gotten to day 5,605. I don’t always remember what he looks like without a picture. I can’t always hear his voice without a home movie. And I miss my dad. I wish he could know my wife, and my kids.
My dad wasn’t perfect. But he was my dad. The very best one I ever could have hoped for. I try most days to think of him. To honor him. To think through what I think he might do. I don’t always succeed.
But I try. And when I do that, I realize: He probably felt like he had no idea what he was doing either. That gives me a bit of hope. We’ve both been 30 year old men with kids and a wife just trying to make it through.
I don’t know what the next 5,605 days hold. And I’m honestly a little terrified of them. But I’ve got friends, family, and a host of other dads I’ve been blessed with through the years that I know will help me find my way, just like my dad, Karl George Stippick, did for the
Years I had with him here.