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Lessons Learned from my Father

It can’t be easy as a parent watching your child live in pain and go in and out of the hospital. As a parent often times you feel hopeless watching your child and feeling as if there is nothing you can do. I say this because that’s what I have heard and witnessed from not only my parents but others with a child living with a chronic condition. As I can only speak to my father and my experiences, please know this. Your unconditional love is enough. Your unwavering faith has shown me and taught me more than you can ever know.

Often times when dealing with a chronic illness you have people that will tell you they “know how you feel because…” These people will always have a story on how they can relate with you but in reality they have no earthly idea how you feel and that is apparent simply by their story and or lack thereof. This happens so much that I stopped telling people exactly how I feel because you start to feel alone and isolated because nobody knows how you truly feel. However, I have always been able to talk to my dad and tell that my dad gets it. He doesn’t really have to say much but I can tell he understands. During different periods of my life throughout my entire life, my dad has always been there and shown incredible amounts of understanding and empathy.

It was during a time that I was having a difficult time coping with living with a chronic illness and we (my parents and I) consulted with our minister. My pastor came to my house and was talking to me and asking me a lot of questions. He asked something along the lines of “Do you think God is with you during this? Or Do you think God has forsaken you?” My dad spoke up and said “Well I think it’s clear through her daily walks of life, she is in school, she is getting her masters and she just got a 4.0”. Although my dad plainly stated it, I had no idea what he meant at the time and it took me a few years to realize it. I did not understand at the time because I chose not to and simply because I was the one going through it and living in so much pain. During the course of my life, we would find ourselves in the emergency room and in the hospital all too often. I remember distinctly one day in the ER. I couldn’t hold anything down. I was freezing and having a hard time breathing, because with each breath my pain would shoot through my stomach like someone was stabbing me with a knife. I was sitting in my dad’s lap curled up in so much pain. He said “Gay, just hold on it will be over soon, how about you try this” He told me once and then showed me how to do it. He was teaching me a breathing technique. It was a breathing technique much like woman use when in labor. I tried it and it worked for the time being. Breathing techniques are used to help you relax and to help you get your mind off of the pain and focused on breathing. I still use that breathing technique to this day.

My dad knows that living with a chronic illness can be very isolating and depressing at times. There was a period in my life where I didn’t feel like talking to anybody! I think I even told my dad to stop calling/texting me. But he didn’t. I was talking to my sister and I remember saying I just don’t feel like talking to anyone. My sister said “yeah Dad knows and that’s exactly why he won’t stop calling”. When I look back on times such as these I can only be thankful that he is my dad. Now, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t talk to my Dad and as I get older I cherish our relationships and our conversations even more.

Typical Conversation:

  • Dad: Wyd

  • Me: Nothing

  • Dad: Were you the star?

  • Me: Idk

  • Dad: Ok, ttyl

Next day……

  • Dad: What you do today?

  • Me: Gave a presentation

  • Dad: Were you the star

  • Me: Yeah, I guess. I did pretty good

  • Dad: Ok, ttyl

Next day…

  • Dad: What you do today?

  • Me: Nothing, had a meeting.

  • Dad: Were you the star?

  • Me: No!

  • Dad: Ok, ttyl

These conversations that we have are always interesting because no matter what he will ask “Was I the star?” Yes, sometimes I get mad because he always, always, always, ask this question. I’m like dad there wasn’t even a reason to be the star in that situation and/or scenario all I did was go to the meeting. But as I think about it, it is so funny that something as simple as those few words can have such a powerful meaning. Even if you don’t feel like shining or don’t even feel like you are a star. God is using you even when you do not know that He is. So shine bright always! As my dad told the pastor many years ago, God has been with me every step of the way through all my trials and tribulations. Through my trials and tribulations we have been able to achieve feats that to others may seem unattainable. Everything works together for the good of those that love the Lord. I thank you dad for instilling in me the love of God and the power that His love has. It doesn’t matter what you are doing or what you are going through, you may not know it someone is always watching you. Somebody needs your story, they need your strength, and they need to see you get through what you’re going through. You just may be the light at the end of somebody’s tunnel.

So thank you Dad. Thank you dad for being there, even when I specifically told you not too. Thank you dad for showing me how to live by example and giving me the tools I need to survive. Thank you Dad for being the Man of God that you are and for being my pillar of faith when I have felt like giving up so many times. Thank you Dad for being my light during my darkest times, for encouraging me and for listening to me. I hope I make you proud Dad and that my light is shining bright for others as your light has guided me. I love you dad, forever and always, you are my Star!

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