Because I share every other aspect of my life with you, my readers, I decided to piece together a blog tribute to my father. I don’t talk about family much, but it’s such a huge part of who I am + I want you all to know me like we’re besties.
I had this post ready to upload today, as it is the third anniversary of his passing, however we encountered another death as a family this morning. My father’s sister, my Aunt Pat, passed away as a result of Alzheimer’s, early this morning–three years to the date that her brother passed, so I thought I would amend it + add more.
A small, personal backstory, as most people wonder why he was so much older–grandparents raised me. However, they were always mom + dad to me. Very complicated family situation, which I would be happy to explain if you’re really interested. *hehehe*
Grieving, for me, has been so very different than most of my family. For that reason, I feel that sharing my story might bring comfort to someone else walking the same path I’ve walked for three years.
To begin, I’d like to share a little bit about the man who I loved first. Avon Frost was a man of few words, but when he had something to say it was so influential. In my older age I have taken one thing away from thinking about him often–he obviously did not like to take pictures. *LOL* I have had to dig hard to find the ones of just he + I.
My pops grew up as a star athlete. He played every sport there was to play + stepped into the “captain” role for each of them. I just recently learned a few things about him. Not a shock I’m just now learned this, however, as he spoke very little. If he was ever speaking, it was never of himself, either. The following quote was said by his cousin Bob:
“One of the best baseball pitchers and tennis players in the State of Mississippi. Scouted by the St. Louis Cardinals that wanted to sign him right out of high school. People came to watch him pitch from all over Mississippi. Played some college ball at Mississippi State. Bulldog through and through. He was a special cousin that influenced my journey into sports. He and Paul Cain won tennis doubles at the State level on a number of occasions as well. Just a good athlete that loved all sports.”
In everything he did, he gave it his all. However, he saw his fair share of tragedy in his lifetime. When his younger brother was 18, he was killed in a drinking + driving accident. He left school at Mississippi State that semester to come home + help his mother adjust. This “family man” figure would continue on to become his legacy.
He went on to become very successful in the copper industry + eventually moved from Mississippi to Arkansas, where I was born. From there, he raised + left me with so many memories that are so precious to my heart. One of my favorites–my childhood home was a block from my high school + I can remember being a little girl, walking down the street to watch football practices. There, my love of sports was born.
As I grew, he was my biggest fan on the sidelines, cheering me on at every softball game. I can remember driving home from buying my first car, (he drove because he was scared for me to LOL), not saying a word but feeling so lucky to have a dad like him.
Another vivid memory was him walking in every afternoon at 5:00pm, turning on the news + falling into his chair. He would leave around 4:00am for work, so his day was a long one. He retired once (LOL for anyone who knew him). He quickly took that back because he simply could not sit still. I guess he couldn’t take staying home with my mom everyday. *hehehe*
My Senior year of high school was in 2015. That April I experienced an extreme heartbreak. I remember coming home from school the day the incident occurred to him standing in the driveway. I got out of the same car he drove home for me + ran into his arms. I felt safe, protected, just right where I needed to be. I will remember that hug everyday for the rest of my life.
I never ever imagined he would be taken from me so soon after that day.
He was diagnosed with cancer on May 1st + passed away just 29 days later on May 30th. My everyday life was 100% different than it had been for the last 18 years. During the 29 days that he was sick, I graduated high school on the 15th. My mom barely made it, but he was obviously unable. This was something that I would have never imagined. I always saw him in every season of my life. High school gradation, college, college graduation, medical school, wedding, babies, ect.
I left for New York + Boston the next day, thinking he would be around for a while. This was the first instance of me grieving differently than my family. I couldn’t bear to sit + watch him deteriorate. I wished to remember him as the man I knew in April + before. So, I took a trip. The day before I came back, I got a call from my mom saying they would be moving him to a hospice home soon. The shock of how fast this was moving was something so heavy to hold.
He was moved into hospice care the night of May 29th + passed away around 6:00am on May 30th. I woke to my mom screaming + before leaving my bed to run to her, I prayed a quick prayer, “Lord, let me be the strong one.” I didn’t cry for some reason. The pain, oh the chest gripping pain, but no tears. I asked one of her friends to drive her the hour to see him. Out of utter shock + disbelief that he was gone, I planned to drive over to Memphis to be with a few friends. I made it an hour + had to come home.
My entire extended family came to Wynne, Arkansas, filling our home. This, I guess, was too overwhelming for me. I left several other times to get away from it all. This brought up several “concerns” from family members + older friends of my family. This brings me to my reason for this post: everyone grieves differently.
Imagine your father has just passed away + Sally Jo from down the street tells you that you’re grieving wrong. Welcome to my world in June of 2015. I didn’t cry at the funeral + I even sang a piece. In my mind, the prayer I had prayed that first morning had allowed me to be the “strong one” through his service.
Over the last three years, I have broken down maybe twice. I grieve in a way that allows me to keep my grief inside. Yes, to the skeptical ones, I have seen a therapist many a time + still do regularly. My grief is not absent. It is real + I deal with it on an everyday basis. However, it is not an outward showing. I simply don’t talk about it. With anyone, including my Sweet T. He understand that I was made to grieve differently + has learned how to comfort me without saying a word.
A huge piece of advice I had to give to anyone grieving is this–do not compare your grief to other’s. Many of my mom’s friends approached me about me not grieving the same as my mom. I didn’t understand why so many people expected me to express my hurt differently–why couldn’t they just help me in the way I needed? It wasn’t until my Freshman year of college when my therapist told me this was normal, that I stopped carry a burden about it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with grieving silently. There is absolutely nothing wrong with picking up the pieces of your life + moving forward. That is what he would have wanted me to do, anyways.
Notice, I say “moving forward” not “moving on”. “Moving on” is not something you’ll ever be able to do. You’ll think of your loved one every single day. You’ll grieve in literal waves. One second you’ll be okay + the next you’ll need to excuse yourself from dinner to have a moment. “Moving forward” is what I did.
I missed my dad more than anything else. I was dealing with entering college with only a mother able to be a part of me becoming an Orientation Guide, Intern, eventually a sorority President, and many other exciting things. For a second of all of my achievements, I’ve had a moment of heartbreak, knowing that he wasn’t there for me to tell. I could only call mom. I couldn’t pick up my phone, scroll to Dad + call.
Yes, this season of my life has been my most favorite. I have been blessed to the brim with experiences I would have never dreamed of. I am a year away from medical school + I am getting married in 42 days. It rips me apart inside to think he has “missed” it all. I have grown immensely, loved immensely. T tells me all the time of how proud he would be + I know he is.
As my wedding day approaches, I am reminded more than ever of his absence. I wish more than I could say that he would be physically walking the aisle with me on July 11th. I know he’ll be peaking over those clouds to see me down the sandy beach to marry my best friend.
Grief is a weird experience. That’s honestly the best way I know to describe it. It is different for each + every human. In order to best help each other recover, we must recognize that.
Here’s to the next month of missing my first love more than ever, but one day running through those pearly gates into his arms once again.
“I love you!…I love you, too, Princess!”