This time last year, I cried myself to sleep night after night. Dad’s terminal diagnosis came a few days into January. Along with it came fear. Uncertainty. Sadness. Anger. Guilt.
I spent the rest of the year watching him get toxins injected into his body to last a little longer than his four month prognosis. I watched him lose weight and lose hair, but never lose faith. I was there when he stopped being able to walk, talk and eat.
He battled stage IV pancreatic cancer for ten months before he died on Oct. 9, 2016.
Shortly after finding out my dad had cancer, he and I had a really long talk about life. I asked his advice on everything under the sun – buying my first house, having a successful marriage, how to ask for a raise at work, how to cook a turkey, balancing work and home life, his tips for success.
Being the reporter that I am, I recorded the conversation. I go back to it occasionally to hear his advice when I need it.
One of the quotes that stands out to me the most is this:
“You will have setbacks. You will make mistakes. You will have things happen to you that seem unfair. How you deal with adversity will ultimately be a big definer of who you are. It’s not the adversity – it’s how you respond to it.”
As I’ve struggled to come to terms with my grief and understand what that’s supposed to look like, this piece of advice comes to mind time and again. When getting out of bed is my biggest accomplishment of the day or when I pick up the phone to call him and realize he’s not there or when it still doesn’t seem real, I think about what he told me.
“It’s not the adversity – it’s how you respond to it.”
And here’s the thing: I want to be unapologetically vulnerable about my grief. I want people to understand what it’s like to lose a loved one. I want people who’ve gone through this to know they’re not alone. And I want people everywhere to know that even in the darkest of places, God is there.
One of my favorite lyrics comes from Chance the Rapper: “I speak to God in public.”
Anyone who knows me knows faith is a very important aspect of my life. But what I don’t think they know is why.
So as I head fearlessly, courageously and hopefully into 2017, I have a goal: Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be open. Share my story. Share my experiences. Speak to God in public.
Throughout the past year, in the moments when I was overwhelmed with emotion or dealing with something particularly difficult, I wrote. I came to my computer and began writing without looking back. Now, I’m going to start sharing those writings. I hope you’ll follow along.