To all the children who have lost a parent to suicide:
September 5, 2011 my dad shot himself.
When I was 9 years old my dad put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. My mom told me he lost the battle with not feeling he was good enough and was in so much pain he felt like he could not live anymore.
I was barely 9, when I lost the greatest love of life. People say I am too young to know love. People say kids don’t know real life love or loss. But I disagree. I felt love the moment I was born and my dad held me in his arms. I know I felt love because as I grew up I felt safe whenever he was in the room. When he would walk in the room, I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. I wondered if all dads were as great as my dad. When he cheered for me at my volleyball games his voice was the loudest, even when we lost, he stayed until the very end. Sometimes, he would get angry at me for not doing homework or talking back but even when angry I felt love. My dad believed I could do anything and when He told me I could do anything I believed him.
I know my dad’s suicide wasn't my fault. And it wasn’t my brother’s fault, or my mom’s fault. It wasn’t even my Dad’s fault. Sometimes, I feel like it was God’s fault. But, now after some time, I realize that God didn't take my Dad away for no reason or out of anger. He did it because my Dad served his purpose.
My Dad’s purpose was to show me and everyone around him that kindness and lightheartedness are two very important things you need in life. My dad was the best role model. He showed me so many important skills. My Dad was such a gentleman. My mom was so lucky to have fallen in love with him. My Dad would do anything in the world to keep me and my brother safe. When walking on the sidewalk he would stand on the side where the cars were passing to protect me from traffic.
My Dad had so many people who cared for and loved him. He had family and friends who would take a bullet for him but instead he took a bullet for us. I believe that he chose to end his pain for us. I think he didn’t want us to see him pretend anymore. He wanted his wonderful amazing smile to be real but it wasn’t. Behind his electric blue eyes, he was suffering and could not hide it anymore so, he did the unimaginable, and took a bullet to his head.
Suicide is a crazy thing to wrap your head around. It makes no sense. No one knew how much my dad was suffering. On the outside, he seemed happy. He accomplished a lot in his life. He was most proud of his years in the United States Coast Guard and had a love of baseball and world history. He played every day with me and my brother and supported my mom in her career of intervention and television. No one would have guessed that on the inside was a deep dark secret of depression and twisted thoughts that took him over.
For a long time, after my dad’s death, I would shut people out and cry. I hated it. I felt so alone and so sad. My mom told me every day that I was loved, it was not my fault and I was not alone. I struggled with trying to understand why my dad left us but with the help of family, friends and therapy, I know he did not leave us, he simply could stay any longer. It was not personal to me and even the love for his children, could not fight the painful dark thoughts in with head.
I felt like I went hell and back again the day I found out my dad committed suicide. 6 years ago, I never thought the pain I felt in my heart would end. I believed that life would never make sense and that I would never laugh or smile again, but it does get better. I have a heartache every day but it's getting smaller as more time passes. The pain feels different and easier to live with.
I learned very young, that life has surprises that we never expect, ask for or even agree with but I wouldn't trade a single second of my life. I feel this experience has been a blessing and a curse.
Knowing that I have my dad in heaven guiding me in my life, is definitely a blessing, that not many people have but, knowing that I will never physically see him again, is a terrible curse.
I try to focus on the blessing. My Dad will not see me grow up, and that is one of the hardest things I will ever face. Knowing that he won't be there on the day I turn 16, or the day I leave for college, or my wedding day, brings me down at times but these struggles have only made me stronger.
My Dad’s death left a huge impact on me but it has made me who I am today and I love who I am. I have turned my greatest pain into an experience that I use to help others. I am wiser and more sensitive. I am a better friend and daughter. I appreciate every day and I know no matter how much life can hurt, it always gets better.
I hear terrible things about suicide in the media and in public. People are afraid to even say the word. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have, we all have really hard feelings and thoughts at times. Sometimes, I feel people judge my dad for killing himself and my mom for not be able to save him but I will not allow suicide to my dad’s legacy. It is how he left but it is not how he lived. I have his blue eyes, his nose, big smile, long hands and most importantly his lighthearted and kind attitude.
No one will ever change how I feel about my dad or my family. I will always remember my Dad as one of the greatest heroes in my life.
In loving memory of John Wandzilak.