Something different

I know it is pretty late for a post, but I wanted to write about something a bit more personal while it is still June 5th. Today, 13 years ago, my dad passed away from lymphoma. I was only 8 years old, so at the time I didn’t comprehend the finality of death. It took years for me to fully internalize what happened. Knowing the definition of death is nothing like the moment you finally understand the concept of eternity. Until that moment in time, the looks of pity and sympathy reveal a sense of bewilderment rather than sadness.

I used to think that crying was the only way to mourn, or the only right way. As I have gotten older, my way of coping with his death has transitioned more from salty tears to reflection and honoring his memory. Of course, tears still come (and always will) but I have learned that there is no right or wrong way to react to the death of a loved one. I always used to worry that I was abnormal for so many things.

It is so normal, almost painfully so, for us to worry that we are abnormal.

Since my father’s death, I have been told time and time again what a loving father, brilliant doctor, hilarious badass, and genuine person he was. I knew him for less time than most of his friends and family, but I cling to my memories like gold vanilla bean gelato and want to share a few of them with you.

As background, he was 6’4 with extremely long legs and an affinity for cowboy boots, blue jeans, and pearl snaps. He liked fast cars, fast boats, and hunting. A real man’s man. (A seemingly dwindling breed?…) He didn’t really know his own strength. I used to get ‘tummy aches’ all the time, almost every night. Whenever I was at dad’s house, I would ask for a tummy rub just like I got at moms. He tried his best, but always ended up pressing a little too hard, and rather than relieving any pain, I usually just felt dinner coming back up. Seltzer and saltines would have to suffice.

Although he couldn’t quite master the belly rub, he was very capable at gentility. For some reason, I always used to get horrendous knots in my hair. Like f*cked up huge. I would wake up in the morning for school, stumble to the bathroom, and discover a hard ball of hair at the nape of my neck the size of a grapefruit. I always just wanted to put it up in a ponytail and ignor it so as to save my tender-headed scalp from the pain of dealing with it, but this was never okay with dad. No daughter of Brian DeDecker was going to go to school looking ragged. I think a part of him wanted to prove that a single father could make his little girl look just as cute as any mom could. He would sit me down on the living room floor armed with a plastic green brush (the kind with those wretched little balls on the end) and a bottle of Johnson and Johnson green apple scented detangler. I think he called it rat spray or something… He would whittle away at the knot until my hair was smooth, but utterly soaked in green apple spray. Finally, a solid 20 minutes later, he would send me off to school with my backpack and lunchbox.

The lunchbox was always a source of entertainment both for me and my classmates. I wasn’t exactly cool in elementary school. Quite the opposite actually. I was a total nerd, socially awkward and always buried in a book. Thank God for my one friend (I love you, Loryn). At lunch, I would open up my purple insulated sack to find enough food to feed my entire row of classmates. There was always a turkey sandwich of sorts, 2 or 3 string cheeses, 2 bags of chips, carrots or apples, and not 1 but 2 chocolate puddings. And probably 5 other things I am forgetting. I never left lunch hungry and usually had surplus left over for trading.

There are many more memories I could share, but I shall leave it at that. I will always wish he were still here, but I am thankful for the time I had with him. One of the best things we can do is to live in a way that honors our loved ones and keep their memory alive. I will post again tomorrow or Tuesday with some recipes. I hope this wasn’t too debbie downer of a post!

Love love.

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22 thoughts on “Something different

  1. Lauren, this was so heartfelt and touching to read. The anecdotes about lunches and hairknots are so sweet and really give me a sense of who your father was. This is such a wonderful tribute to him – and I’m sure he is looking down on you and smiling =) I’m sorry that you had to deal with a death of a loved one at such a young age, but it seems like you learned and grew from it so so so much and you are so a beautiful young woman – inspiring too! i think it’s a great reminder too that there’s no such thing as “normal” – and hey, i was that little nerdy kid in elementary school too =) love that.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your father! I’m sure it would have made him very proud. And yes, there’s no abnormal/wrong way to react to a death. I’m sorry you had to go through that at such a young age, but I’m sure it’s made you a stronger person. I love your stories about the hair knots and lunchbox. 🙂

  3. Oh Lauren, this is so wonderful. I lost my grandma last year and I was very close to her. I can’t imagine losing one of my parents. But you are such a strong person, and I’m sure your dad is very proud!

  4. Hi, Lauren. Thank you for sharing such personal story. This is not a downer post at all. It’s truly worth it to write a post to recall back the happy memories and appreciate how much you have matured since then. I think you should be really proud of yourself (of course your dad would be proud of you up there)on how you have grown to a strong young lady despite all the difficulties you must have had.
    Sincerely, Stephanie

  5. Wow, Lauren, this was beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m glad you have so many wonderful memories of your father and I’m sure he is happy knowing you remember all that 🙂

  6. I could cry with this post. It’s so heart-warming and wonderful. I love that you are celebrating who he was and the time you spent with him. He sounds like a truly amazing father/friend/dad/role model/person/man’s man. 😉

    I want to also thank you for writing this. My dad is not doing well and I’m not sure how much longer I’ll get to be with him. This just helps me celebrate him and his love.

    Love you, friend.

  7. This was such a touching post! Losing a loved one is really hard. Your dad reallly loved you, i loved the story of about your food in ur lunch box and your hair!! This was such a sweet post! thanks for sharing! 🙂

  8. Aw Lauren, this was such a beautiful post!
    You seem like such a hardworking, fun, intelligent, admirable lady that I’m sure your dad would be so so proud of!
    My mom always packed my lunch to the brim too, and I wouldn’t of had it any other way 🙂

  9. That was one of the most heartfelt, sincere, and beautiful and outright candid posts I’ve read. Cheers to you and to your wonderful man. ❤

  10. Im sorry for your loss. Your dad sounds like a wonderful person and I am sure he would be proud of the person you became ❤

  11. This is beautiful, precious Lauren! Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this with us. What an honor to your dad to pass on these loving memories. You’ve always been so responsive to my posts about Billy’s dad and I appreciate your thoughtfulness so much. I think you are so wise and 100% right that we can choose to live our lives in a way that honors our loved ones who have passed away. Love you! xo

  12. this is an absolute beautiful post. I think you are 100% right : honoring those we loved and lost is the best way to keep their memory alive. I’m thinking of you today ( and tomorrow!). I recently lost a good friend of mine, almost a year ago at the end of the month and the concept of eternity only hit me last month so i couldn’t agree with you more. this was very well written, thank you for sharing. It’s a great reminder to celebrate life today and remind those that we love that we love them! xoxo

  13. Lauren,

    I hit up your site to check out the new blueberry blog post (which is very hard to say out loud). I missed the last 3 or 4 posts due to finals and whatnot.

    1st off, I want to reiterate how much I love your blog/blogging style. I most definitely notice that I’m taking inspiration in my own writing style. You’re very talented

    2nd, this post is really beautiful. It’s the reason why I love the written word so much. You make every emotion that you put into the column very apparent and very relatable. It truly is amazing.

    Cheers, friend.

    PS- I’m gonna give this blog a shout out on the Blueberry facebook page. Thanks again, Lauren!

  14. I worked with your dad briefly in the ER at Round Rock in 1989/90. Since I worked the 11 to 7 shift as the only RN and there was just one Dr., I got to know all of them pretty well. I want to share a story that you may have already heard but if not, it’s too good not to share. This did not happen on my shift but just hearing the story was hilarious. Your dad was in an examination room with a family and was settling in for a chat. He crossed his arms and backed up to a large trash can and sat down. Well, the lid wasn’t quite strong enough to support his weight and down he went, long arms and legs sticking up, unable to get out, like a turtle on its back. He was removed with the assistance of the staff…..Hope you got a laugh from that. Julie

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