The Story (part II): The aftermath of my dad’s death

…I feel like I’m in a museum
People surrounding me and looking…
-Surrounded, poem #32

At 11 years old, I had been the textbook example of a “daddy’s girl,” and the months after my dad’s death were incredibly difficult for me. Not only did I feel isolated from my “normal” peers, but I also felt detached from my own family. In short, I felt completely alone.

Thankfully, six months later, I found a community of people who got it at Comfort Zone Camp, the nation’s largest free bereavement camp for children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. Sharing my story and simply talking in a supportive environment taught me how to positively cope with my grief. It let me find the good amidst what was otherwise an objectively bad situation. And, it helped me learn to grieve the memories I had yet to make with my dad, the memories I felt I had been robbed of.

The next seven years consisted of a series of uncmilestones and changes – all without my dad. Graduating elementary school. School plays, band concerts, piano recitals and swim meets. Watching my mom begin to date. Father-daughter dances. My little brother starting school. Moving to a new house with my mom’s boyfriend and his daughter.
Graduating middle school. Family vacations. Changing high schools. Report cards. Jobs. A myriad of accomplishments. College applications. Boyfriends. Graduating high school. And countless other moments.

Then, seven years, eight months and 20 days after my dad died, I found myself moving into my dorm at UNC-Chapel Hill, ready to begin my first year.

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