Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How can you NOT acknowledge the anniversary of

the single day which changed the rest of your life?

I had just turned 17.

Some of my friends were getting ready for the various Spring Break trips our school would take for their language classes. A bunch were going to Italy and France and Spain. Others were preparing for the junior prom. Everybody was pretty much being young and carefree and high school students.

And I was waiting for my father to die.

I very often wonder if I'd be a different person had I not had that experience...had my father not been sick for over year, had I not watched him die a little each day and never prayed for the end after a while just because we knew his pain was so bad. You're not supposed to look back...I know that...you can't change the past...I know, that, too...but I still often wonder if I would even recognize the Diana who didn't lose her father when she was a teenager.

I always hear that people are supposed to grow-up really quickly when they lose a parent at a young age, and I think that did happen to me...I became serious and sad for a very long time. I wasn't given the luxury of having regular teenage problems. When my friends complained about how much they couldn't stand their parents or talked about boyfriend problems, I couldn't relate. I had bigger problems. I had real problems.

However, at the same time, I feel like the entire loss left me a bit stunted and prevented me from ever really being able to feel like a grown-up...maybe those feelings aren't specific to those who lost parents as children.

Today, it's hard for me to look around and feel like everybody has two parents but me...it's even harder when it feels like not even do they all have both parents, but most grew-up with more than one grandparent as well. I wasn't even given that.

Last year, my uncle, and the closest thing I had to a dad for ten years, passed away to cancer, just like my father did. It brought back every emotion I had felt when my dad died, and more. I watched my cousins go through what I went through, and realized how difficult it is, no matter what age you are. My cousins were about 20 years older than I was when we lost our dads. It's hard enough when you are an adult. That was a lot for a teenager to go through! Maybe I'm too hard on myself. I took my SATs less than a week after. Maybe I tried to jump back into regular life too quickly. Maybe life never really quite got back to "regular".

I probably WOULD be very different had my dad not died...but all I can do now is really like the person I became despite everything...I think it's what my father would have wanted.

Diana Rissetto