After my father passed away, I’d say there was a good six-month time frame of extreme struggle. I was only seventeen years old. For a good six months, I didn’t eat. If I did eat, it made me sick. I suffered from migraines. I would close myself up in my room, not talk to anybody and just really close myself off.
There was an organization in Chattanooga and it’s still here till this day called the Emmaus Community. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go and I said, yes. All that I knew is that I was going to go to a campground and I was going to learn about God. I joke, at that time, they ran out of tissues that weekend because of how much I cried. I joke that they ran out of food but they didn’t. I seriously gained ten pounds that week because I was finally able to eat and to keep the food inside of me. It was just that moment of He has every need that I ever need to be taken care of. I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have to have anxiety over it. I don’t have to stress out. I don’t have to worry and feel like the outcast, that I don’t have a father. Those stresses are gone for me now because I have a Heavenly Father that is going to meet all of those needs for me.
While he did pass away from cancer, he chose not to tell anyone in the family that he had cancer. So, I had no idea that this was coming. My dad had been my comedic relief. He had been my rock. He had been the person that I stayed up watching Saturday Night Live with. He was an incredible jokester. So, for me, it felt like a part of me was missing because I didn’t have that same laughter and that same connection with someone else. I don’t know the full story of why my father chose not to tell us of his cancer but understanding who he was I choose to believe that he did not want us all gathered around him wondering if each breath was his last. My sister had literally just gotten married a month prior. I think my parents really just wanted us to celebrate what was going on in our lives at that time. They didn’t want us to be sad and to be mourning. It’s really hard to keep that type of a secret when there are ambulances, fire trucks, and police officers in your front yard with their sirens. Well, they didn’t have their sirens going but their lights going. I could see what was playing out. I didn’t understand it because it was four o’clock in the morning and my mind wasn’t fully engaged. I was just told that it was a heart attack which we still believe is actually what occurred. The pain of that cancer caused such a strain on his body that he did actually have a heart attack but the root cause of it all was cancer that he had. I can understand why they kept it from me up until the point that he passed away. After he passed away, I wished that I had known the truth because it would have helped me make sense of what happened. I didn’t find out until my thirties what actually happened.
My father was forty one when he passed away. He was very young. My mother passed away at age sixty-two. So, I never expected to be what the world would consider an orphan at the age of thirty-three but again there is that constant reminder that as a child of God I am never an orphan.