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Three Important Life Lessons I’ve Learned, After Being Raised by a Widowed Father

When someone hears that I was raised by just my father, the question I usually get is, when did your parents divorce? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. My mother and father, were actually madly in love. That’s when things get rocky. My mother passed away, when I was only eight years old, after a lengthy battle of cancer. The day my mother was torn from our lives, a piece of my father was torn away too.  However, my father picked up all of the pieces, time and time again to give my brother and I to live the most stable life he could give, even when he was trying to rebuild his own version of life. There are so many lessons he had taught me, even when he had barely time for himself- without him even knowing. Lessons about loving myself, about grief, and most importantly, how to simply live your life to the fullest because you TRULY don’t know how much time you have left. 

1. Losses in life are sad, but be happy for what each moment brings you. 

This lesson he taught me, was one of the hardest, but also one of the most important. When I lost my mom, I was young. After her passing, I felt like I lost every opportunity I’ve ever had to grow with her, and truly felt it was unfair that I had to keep moving on, when I just wanted to keep time paused. My father never let those moments go unnoticed. Every dance recital? He was the one helping me braid my hair, and get in costume, just like my mother would. I came to value the time I had spent with her and the happiness I, and we all had experienced before she had passed. 

This has been something I’ve followed with every loss in my life. I am incredibly grateful for my father, and after losing my mother, he truly made me realize how fortunate I actually was to be able to have these great moments with my mom, and that goes for every potentially shitty thing I’ve lost. Relationships I thought would last forever, but lost? Instead of mourning a breakup, I’m grateful for the moments we had together. Cutting out toxic friends as an adult, that I thought would be my future bridesmaid? Sure it’s hard, but without doing these things I would never grow. I appreciate the moments of friendship we share, because it’s a part of who I am. 

2. The Value of Sacrifice

About a month before my mother passed away, my father was fired from his job. He was fired, simply because he wanted to be there for my mother, and spend every single day at the hospital being by her side. A week after she passed away, our landlords decided to sell the apartment we all lived in. To put it quite simply, my father was going through it. Never for a moment, did he give up. 

My father, made ends meet by working handyman, freelance jobs, while searching for a new full-time job, while buying his first home for his family, and also planning a funeral. I don’t know how he did it, and I still don’t. The thing that stood out the most to me, was his ability to keep it all together. He expected nothing in return, no sympathy, no handouts. He only wanted stability for my siblings and I, even if he wasn’t able to directly provide it, by spending every minute with us. We would frequently hang out at our grandmothers house after school, and on weekends, just so he could use every waking moment of his life, to keep our lives moving. He just wanted to see us happy, and in the end, isn’t that really what matters? It’s what matters to me. Having someone’s support, even from a distance at the time, was essential for my family during such a time of grief.

3. Everything works out, even when things are tough. 

This loops into the second lesson I learned perfectly.  Being my fathers youngest child, and also his daughter wasn’t ever easy, and I give him so much credit for everything I put that man through. There were many times that I felt a gap where a mother should be, and he would probably agree with that statement. There are times when he could only guide me so far, and he would back away for my own sake. Without that, I wouldn’t be nearly as independent as I am today. The love of those who stand with us in our worst possible moment brings beautiful light to the darkness, in ways he will never understand. Having a person, just to vent to during the most uncertain times of my life was essential to my growth, even to this day.