I can remember it like it was yesterday. My first sister, Kim, was driving as I sat in the passenger seat. We were driving from Dallas to Bedford. Most likely, not more than 25 miles from our parking spot to our destination. However, Kim could have driven from our Dallas location to the keys of Florida before I would have said anything. For two Alpha female siblings six years apart in age that would have been a lot for me to go along with her; and more so for it to be so quiet in her blue '92 Corolla.
I don't remember the temperature, but I remember it was a sunny Wednesday. A big bright February sun that spilled all over our North Texas sights. Not a cloud in the sky. There was no music in the car. Not a lot of talking or for that matter crying. Just her breathing and my breathing. The loudest of all - our thoughts. What would life be like from this day forward?
I can so perfectly remember thinking, "At 34, I will have lived half my life without him." Half. My. Life. Him is Dad. And, he had died. It was February 2, 1994. I was 17.
Why I thought about adding my age to itself and thinking about the year 2011 is beyond me. However, I always liked math, and I've always been a forecaster. Call it the leader in me. Perhaps I was preparing myself for the next scene of life. Possibly, I was looking so far ahead to a time that I thought it wouldn't hurt. Youth is so innocent. It always hurts. It just gets easier to breathe.
17 years. I voted for the first time the year he died. Since then, I've graduated three times. Lived at five addresses. Flown to Europe twice. Served as a bridesmaid eight times. Traveled to Mexico three times. Received three business card titles from OU before this one. Held new life. Experienced The Rose Parade. Fell in love. Received awards (funny, I only thought pretty girls won Miss BHS.) Started a DG chapter. Attended 100+ weddings (not kidding). Hosted 29 wedding/baby showers (again, I don't kid). Recovered from love. Watched the coverage of OKC Bombing, 9/11, and every other needless tragedy in our world. Danced the night away (shoeless - sorry Mom) in NYC. Served as a maid of honor/best woman twice. Named a Godmother. Danced in the rain. Bought a home (a beautiful one if I say so). Became an aunt. Ran for a plane. Attended and celebrated 5 DG Conventions. Witnessed a group of young people grow in their faith (over three years) and receive their Confirmation. Planted bulbs in my own flowerbeds. Lived. Everyday for 17 years.
I couldn't be more grateful for the past half of my life. Even the tearful moments - the ones that had me calling Mother, Kim and my "steel magnolias" balling. Even those Lifetime worthy moments made me into the me I am today.
It's all my 34 year young life. And, because of him (and Mother) I have life. 17 years later I'm more grateful for Dad and more thankful than I ever could've imagined. I had no idea how beautiful my life would be at 34. I can only pray that 68 is this great.
With all this said, thanks be to God Dad married Mother. I'd be nothing without my Flo. She taught me how to wrap gifts and a set a fine table (and pages beyond pages of other life lessons)....be sure to never miss a chance to tell those you love how you feel. I don't. And, you can bet I didn't 17 years ago today....just half my life ago.