What a list this could be…. “Things That Aren’t Easy To Talk About.” A list filled with sadness, disappointment, anger, and all other black-fueled emotions – with an underlying confusion. This time though, I have to talk about something I was not prepared for: my best friend losing her father.
Peter got sick far faster than I thought was humanly possible, yet the human body never ceases to disappoint and shock. I mention confusion because that’s exactly how I’ve felt upon finding out Peter was sick. Whether confused as to how it could have possibly happened to him, or jumping to conclusions, I couldn’t help but climb down the rabbit hole of why. Peter was diagnosed with stage 4 metastasized cancer of the liver, and in non-hospital speak that means it had spread to other organs. He started chemotherapy and radiation but that was ceased due to its ineffectiveness. He passed away days later.
Confusion plays the largest role in my personal comprehension and acceptance of death. I don’t understand how something so bad could happen to someone so good. To me, it is simple, like black and white, despite what other moral or ethical grounds others try and use to explain death. There are good people and there are bad people, and it’s your choice as to who you want to be. Peter was a good man. There is no further explanation. It just doesn’t make sense.
Peter was a man among men.
Having the pleasure of calling Nicole one of my closest friends also meant her family unexpectedly grew by two people. You guessed it! Ivona unexpectedly had twins, two precious girls named Carly and Bella. Through tears and hugs as we stood in the parking lot of our dorm, Peter joked making fun of our emotional outpour yet still managing to capture it all on camera. “You’ve got 3 more years!” In those three years, our families became families, becoming bigger, better versions of themselves. My grandmother and Ivona bonded over their dated dance moves and easy-going spirits. I found myself upset whenever a parent came into town and I didn’t get a chance to see them. I gained two fathers that met every single on of my expectations of what a dad was “supposed” to be. In those three years, I gained two sisters that I couldn’t imagine living without. Ivona became a source of comfort, never failing to make us roll over with belly-laughs and starting conversations with “wish she was my mom” comments. Peter was the happiest man on Earth in our eyes, constantly sparking conversations like “can we get lunch with your family too??” or “is your Dad coming out with us tonight??” He loved his family endlessly. I watched him tell Nicole day-in and day-out how much he loved her, whether supporting her physically or mentally – he took no sick days. Nicole lived the majority of her life without tragedy, which is all you can wish for your children. Peter and Ivona gave their children that comfort without expecting anything but love in return – embodying everything a parent should be proud of. They raised two strong, beautiful, and relentless woman that will continue to kick-ass both for him, and for themselves. As outsiders, Carly and I put the value in how much love Ivona and Peter shared, something we both acknowledge isn’t seen nearly enough these days. To lose such a bright light has broken my heart.
I sit here trying to wrap my brain around how I am supposed to console my best friend, who just lost her father, and I have no words. I have no words other than I love you and I am here for you. I have no other words than I am so sorry. I am sorry that a man of such character was taken too soon. I am sorry that my best friend no longer gets to call her Dad when her car doesn’t start. I am sorry because Nicole doesn’t get to avoid phone calls or hurry off the phone. I am sorry because I can’t change anything. I am sorry because my best friend lost someone that raised her, loved her unconditionally, and never waivered in support. I am sorry because I can’t make her feel better. I am sorry because no matter how much I say, or don’t say, I can’t bring him back. I am sorry because if I could, I would. I am sorry because I feel powerless. I am sorry because true loss does not have “right” words.
So Peter, thank you. Thank you for proving to the world that men exist like you. Thank you for showing your daughter what unconditional love looks like. Thank you for teaching your daughter to never settle for anything less than she deserves. Thank you for sharing your infectious light that you shined so strongly onto your family. Thank you for giving me one of your most prized possessions, your daughter. I promise we will be strong for her. I promise we will continue to love and care for her. I promise to remind her that you’re still here, especially in the moments when she can’t seem to find you. And I promise that together, we will be strong enough for her.
So Peter, thank you.
And to Nicole and Carly: thank you for giving me the best four years of my life – and here is to the years that lie ahead. You two never cease to make me smile, clearly.