My father died when I was 16, how was I supposed to grow up?

‘I didn’t want condolences, I wanted him back’

“I will only grow from this. I will not let this define me.” I swallowed the rock in my throat and continued remembering my father in front of hundreds.

A few days earlier. I woke up on a cold, winter morning and checked my phone. A two-hour delay because of the weather, which meant more sleep. I wish I got out of bed to say goodbye.

A 16-year old boy isn’t supposed to live life without a dad.

An hour and a half passed, Dad was at work. I heard the phone ring from the room down the hall. I heard my mom’s voice.

“Dad never showed up to work,” my mom said, “I’m going to go look for him, I’ll be back soon, I love you.” My mom was scared.

Dad 3

My mom and dad fell in love on their first day at Ithaca College. Maggie and Peter were inseparable, it wasn’t a party until they walked in the room. My mom wore the pants, and he had always been a softie. They made a perfect couple. 23 years was not enough, my mom got screwed.

I didn’t think anything of it. I hopped into the shower with no worries or fears, I turned on my shower playlist, no clue that my life would never be the same after that final song. I would see my dad at dinner tonight.

I got out of the shower and heard the doorbell ring. Mom is home, this should be funny. I threw on a pair of boxers and hopped down the stairs already thinking of what my mom would have to say about dad’s goofy antics.

I opened the door and my heart dropped to my stomach. Two men stood in uniform, ready to break my world into a million pieces. I forgot how to breathe. I was alone.


Twenty days before, I passed my driver’s test by a hair. I’m not a very good driver, my whole family knew it. I was bad with the pedals. I was driving home and called my dad to let him know.

“Hey dad, I just passed my driver’s test!”

“How?” he said. I grinned.

The next couple of days flew by, but it felt like an eternity since I had seen him last. Faces walked through our doors dropping off food and useless condolences. I didn’t want condolences, I wanted him back.

I listened to my mom and brother’s sobs from the room over. I knew I could do nothing to help them, and that was like a stab in the heart. I wanted to speak the eulogy at the funeral. I wasn’t sure I could hold it together. I spoke in front of one of the largest crowds St. Mary’s Church in Skaneateles, NY had ever seen. I know I made him proud.

Dad 1

Life would be so much easier if he didn’t hit a tree driving to work, we all know that. “Easy” isn’t always a good thing. Nothing great comes from “easy.”

My mom, brother and I became stronger and better people because of this, we grew. With the help of family, friends, and our community, we came out the other side.

I choose to live for my fun-loving, generous dad, and to never take anything for granted. Life will get better, and time will heal.

I am excited to keep living every day for my father and continuing on the legacy at Ithaca College. Count your blessings and hug your dads.

Ithaca College