My father may be gone, but the lessons he imparted on me aren't.
When you lose someone you love, it's all sorts of traumatic; there is so much pain and sadness.
Whether you have lost a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, finding a reason to stay joyful and grateful and a present and active participant in your own life can be a challenge.
Not because you want to grieve forever, and not because you "just can't seem to get past it" or move forward, but because one of the very few people you would lean on, turn to, or lose yourself in during tough times, is the one that is gone.
But, when you lose someone you love, you don't lose the memories, the connection, and you sure as hell don't lose any of the support, guidance or the lessons you were lucky enough to be taught.
Some think it strange, the way I deal with the loss of my Dad, but I choose to live like he is still here. I picture him, always above me, looking down on my family and me wherever we are.
If the kids and I are in the van, so is Grandpa.
If we are at a restaurant, so is Grandpa.
If I am preparing and prepping for something upcoming, Dad is right there with me.
I can hear him chuckle when my son offers up pretty genius and witty retorts and quips.
I can hear him telling me "that's karma, Nic," when I complain about how my daughter sasses the crap out of me.
I can hear him stomping his foot and slapping his knee when my youngest talks back to me with her adorable little Minnie Mouse voice while she raises her eyebrows.
I can him hear bragging to his friends about my son dominating his first week at VPK.
I can hear him talking the bartender's ear off about his granddaughter not just doing, but nailing dance solos in front of crowds of people without an ounce of fear holding her back.
I can see him looking at my three-year-old and her looking back at him in a stare contest manner during which neither will back down, just like he raised me never to do.
I see all these things, and I hear all these things, not just because I want to, but because I need to.
And, this way of living through a loss, it's not for everyone, but it is for me and works for me, and that's what's important.
I got to have 27 years on this Earth with my Dad, and there is just no way in hell, I am going to let the loss of his physical body be the loss of all of him.
My Dad was a brilliant man.
A very determined man.
A man who lived unapologetically.
So that last thing I will ever do is apologize for how I deal with the loss of him, and if you're struggling to cope with the loss of a parent or any loved one, I suggest you give this way a try.
Here are some other wisdom gems my father offered up:
"Today's the day." -- Every day offers new possibilities; opportunities for greatness.
"Deal with it." -- Deal with it or get over it.
"Take chances." -- If something scares you, that's probably a good thing.
"Exude [humble] confidence at all times." -- You're a fully capable human and you can do anything you put your mind to.
"Don't apologize for who you are." -- We are molded into who we are based on our life experiences, and whoever that is, is always "enough."
"Have fun with life." -- Life is yours, but it's fleeting, so make the freakin' most of it.