Content warning: Subjects include abuse, death of a parent and suicide
My life consists of a series of events that have shaped me to be the person I am today. I know this counts for everyone, but I’m talking about significant events here. Childhood abuse, sexual assault, mental health problems in my family, and the list goes on. Not one of these events was truly defining by itself. It formed me and the way I look at and interact with the world. Yet now, looking back, I can see one defining moment. It’s more an event really. It broke my heart, and it didn’t have immediate effects, but definitely changed my life over time.
In 2006 the police came to my house to inform me of my father’s death. I was shattered. The world broke down around me. I had expected this from everyone in my family, but him. He had committed suicide.
For about a week, I walked around in a haze. I hated seeing people laughing, seeing fathers with their children. How could that be? I had lost mine. It was devastating.
You often hear people who go through something like this, say they changed their way of life immediately. How they’re confronted with their own mortality. That that was when they decided to make a significant change and not postpone it any longer.
I wasn’t like that. I was twenty-four at the time, still in university, and I tried my hardest to continue the way I had. My father had said he was afraid I was going to drop out of university, so for that reason alone, I stayed for many years. I did quit before I had my degree. Why work hard for someone who’s already dead?
My Life, My Choice
So why do I count his death as a defining moment? Because later on, roughly ten years later, I began to make choices he never could.
My father was a nurse, but he had been looking to change his career. He tried to find a job in a bookshop, for one. He always wrote outside of his job, mainly poetry. He started several small businesses, with little success. Until the day he died, he was still employed as a nurse.
I know he felt stuck. He had wanted to explore, to do other things in the world, but he was unable to. He couldn’t find another job, he couldn’t start a new business.
Knowing this was his background was the reason for me to quit my job in retail. Cause I was stuck there too. I knew I could do better, that I could do more, even if it was unclear how to give shape to different avenues.
I’m forever grateful to my husband for allowing me to quit my job and start writing. I’m not there yet. I’m still searching on how best to form a career in this line of work, but I have the freedom to do so. I write blog posts, stories and reviews. I’m staying true to my core.
My father’s death was a wake-up call for me. Life ends, everything ends one day. So when you have the chance to follow your heart, do so. At twenty-four, I wasn’t ready to give it all up and make the necessary changes. I still had lessons to learn, and another parent to lose before I had the guts to quit my job and venture towards a new horizon. But I will say this: if I had to work in retail to spend another thirty years with my father living, I would. I miss him every day.