The train rocked gently back and forth as it lulled past a farm somewhere between Wilmington and Philadelphia. With the latest edition of 'People' magazine on my lap and a bottle of water at my side, I looked out the compact window - just thinking. That's what I tend to do when I travel this way; most passengers become engrossed in laptops or their phones but I usually take the opportunity to simply decompress. Now and then, someone will wobble down the aisle juggling a tray complete with chips, yogurt, and a Bud Light from the snack car - which I always find mildly amusing, as they try not to lose their balance.
'Daddy, why are husbands always older than their wives?' A young, curious voice probed from the pair of seats behind me. 'That's a good question, honey- I'm not exactly sure, but it seems true, huh?' This conversation, which covered various topics - wore on for a couple more hours, and it became clear that my ears were bearing witness to nothing more than an unbreakable bond between a father and daughter. For the duration, I was thinking of my dad and of all the adventures we'd embarked on and naturally, all of the questions that came along like 'what's a runaway truck ramp?' Like the soft-spoken man who sat behind me on Amtrak #163, my dad was patient and humble and frankly, let me do whatever sparked my creative interest.
Sixteen days after that trip to New York, my dad suddenly passed away. In the moment that I found out, I was paralyzed. I walked out the front door and expected everything to pause, because a world without my dad in it was unimaginable. It was a blustery afternoon; the wind took my hair and obscured most of my face. Leaves rustled and danced across the street; I witnessed a neighbor tow her Bulldog behind her. I knew then that though this awful thing had happened, everything around me continued without fail - a relatively uneventful, typical lazy Sunday for most.
In the hours following his death, my mind raced; I laid in bed that first night and stared at the ceiling for what felt like an eternity, part of me yearning for some divine message. My thoughts immediately rewound to 2 weeks prior when I was arriving back home from the Big Apple. My dad - gracious as usual, offered to pick me up from the rail station. As I hopped out of the train and onto the platform, I joined the herd of other travelers hustling toward idled taxis and shuttle buses. I expected him to be in the parking lot, but glanced up - surprised to see him standing off to the side of the 'traffic'. He had one hand extended for my luggage and the other prepped for a hug. 'Hi honey, did you have fun?' I'll never forget that moment, to see his smiling face in that chaotic sea of strangers was overwhelmingly comforting.
Words cannot express the enduring love and adoration I have for my dad - who is now my guardian angel. At his memorial service, someone brilliantly stated that he was someone who made your goals his goals; a statement so brief yet completely summed up every aspect of his caring and giving spirit. He was larger than life and perhaps that is why God called him home. Coping with his loss is like an ocean; some days are rough, while others are more peaceful and calm - but I am confident he will give me the strength to swim through it.