Johnny Wayne and Hannah Jayne.

Today would have been my dads 59th Birthday. When thinking about the fact that he was 44 when he passed away, and now would be 59 makes feel likes it’s been even longer since the last time I saw him. Every year it’s gotten harder not easier to let go, I guess to due to the fact that I was 7, I was able to handle (at least at the time) the situation better than I would it would be to go through all that now. I never used to cry or let his Birthday and the anniversary if his death really bother me. But now it seems every year I cry and fall apart a little more every year. Being 7 years old and being able to handle the situation at the time as I did, most people thought I didn’t completely understand what had happened. They all thought I should fall apart and feel like my world was ending. But I knew exactly what was going on and what it all meant. I was staying at my aunt and uncles house for 3 or 4 days( I don’t remember exact days anymore), my sister had stay a day or two and then went back to our mom. I could tell something was wrong, but I figure they were just upset about something little, chose to ignore it. I believe my mom come back to pick me up from their house (it’s hard to remember all those little things after 15 years), after the three of us were back together my mom told me what was going on, that my dad had more or less disappeared, and that no one knew where he was. That evening Sarah and I went through all of my dads travel bags, clothes and any other normal thing you’d take with you on a trip. No luck, everything he would need including his favorite green duffel bag were were all in there places. My mom set on her bed watching us and crying on and off, Sarah and I kept trying to make jokes and cheer her up. I remember we spent some time talking about everything and then I guess we went to bed. Sadly my time line of things seems to be as intact as well someone with dementia… I’m really not sure if it was the next day or the day after that, but either the three of us were in the kitchen when a Kentucky State Troop patrol car pulled into our drive way. I think all three of our hearts drop into our stomachs. My mom told Sarah and I to stay in the house, she was going to talk to him first. Sarah and I set at the kitchen table, trying not to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I think we made a joke or two, trying to ease the tension in the room. We were watching our mom through the window, when all of a sudden my mom drops to the ground. We froze, not trying a word. He continued to talk and comfort her the best he could. I think my mom (still crying) went and set on a lain chair we had out in the yard. At that point he started for the house, opening the door and come into the kitchen with us. I believe he tried to explain what had happened in the best way he could to a 7 and a 12 year old. I remember clear as day him telling us we needed to listen, take care, and help our mom, I believe he told me to try to be strong. He stayed for a few more minutes, talking to us and my mom, then he got back in his car and drove away, me thinking now what are we supposed to do? My mom eventually came back inside, she walked into the living room and dropped to her knees again in the floor. She burst into tears, Sarah kneeling down and wrapping her arms around mom, also bursting into tears. Me? I stood about 10 feet away watching them. After a minute or two I come to the conclusion they weren’t getting up anytime soon, so I walked closer to them, then eventually giving them a little hug type thing, when backed away. I told them it was going to be okay, we were going to get through this. I can’t remember what exactly happened after that, until at some point later in the day people started showing up at our house, offering sympathy and trying to help in anyway they could. I hide back in my sisters room, I believe. I didn’t want to answer any questions or receive hugs and pity pats. I wasn’t a hugger then and I’m not now, so I wanted nothing to do with all of that. I eventually ventured outside to were my mom was in a rocking chair on our front porch. The rest of that day, and the days following are not much more than a blur. I do remember being at the funeral home for 2 days. My mother made me wear my Easter dress from that past year, and it was itchy, and I was mad. Because you know I was 7 that seemed like one of the most important things at the time. I walked around circles that funeral home for hours on ended, occasionally plopping down in a chair, but would quickly get up after realizing people were looking at me with her sad sympathy eyes, then I would go hide outside. Several of my friend parents come to give that condolences, which meant for a few minutes I had a friend to talk and play with and everything was okay again. I hated every other part of those days. He was my dad I wanted to be near him without every else being around. I wanted to say goodbye my way, I didn’t want to share him with hundreds of other people I never remembered knowing. I wanted my mom to stop crying every time I got close to her. I felt more alone then I think I ever have. I was surrounded by people who loved me and were trying to make it easier on us. But my dad was my best friend, taught me how to fish, drive a car and a lawnmower, how to garden and plant flowers, he was teaching me guitar and  how to ride a bike, he was my buddy, I went everywhere I could with him. I was a little ball of questions waiting for him to answer. I didn’t just lose a dad, I lost my everything, and I’ll never get it back. I didn’t have a graduation, I didn’t have a wedding, I couldn’t go through those things without my dad there, it would have been more sad than happy. I felt like a part of me was missing the day Bella was born. She’ll never get to see her grandfather and get to see how cool he was (at least as he was to me). I know one day we will all meet again in heaven, and he’ll probably have a big smile on his face welcoming us all with a big smile and hug. I will continue to miss him, but I know he help make me the woman, daughter, mother, wife, friend and sister I am today.

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