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Sweeney: Things my dad should have heard sooner

Being the daughter of someone that is terminally ill is kind of like having a character trait that nobody really understands.

Katlin Sweeney

Katlin Sweeney

Sometimes you miss birthday parties, even if it’s for your best friend. You can’t always go hang out at the mall with your friends whenever you want to. You tend to have a strict after-school pick-up time in high school so that your parents don’t have to deviate from the way their day is structured. You babysit your siblings a lot. You try to clean the house whenever you’re home so that your parents can relax. And sometimes the fact that you can’t go see your boyfriend or hang out, even when you wish you could, means he breaks up with you.

Having to explain that you can’t do something isn’t always well received. The people that understand and try to compromise end up being your best friends. The people that don’t do this end up losing contact with you or thinking that you just don’t want to see them.

But that’s what is so interesting. It’s fascinating to me how much of an influence another person’s medical problems can have on someone else’s life. My Dad’s always been sick; when I was younger I just assumed that everyone’s dad was the same. When I realized that this wasn’t the case, I started to become more conscious of how different that made me. Not everyone knew an assortment of facts about various diseases. A lot of them had more freedom. Their parents didn’t have to worry about avoiding certain foods or common illnesses possibly triggering more serious side effects.

But the beautiful thing about getting older is that you learn. You stop seeing something that’s broken and unusual. You start seeing potential, finding ways to turn tables in your favor. You stop saying everything is the world’s fault and forgoing acceptance of responsibility. You worry less about yourself and start considering the realities and struggles of others.

Life is not a vulnerable, emotional being. It will mercilessly hit you with your deepest fears at the worst possible moments. It does not care. It challenges you, pushes you, and forces you out of your comfort zone. It makes you find the ground when your foundation is anything but firm.

Life will make you face things. The end is inevitable, and everybody’s road leads there eventually. You can’t stop the natural progression that makes everyone uncomfortable. All you can really do is do right by people in the meantime.

My Dad is always that person; that never changes. He suffers from a terminal illness that rips him apart on the inside. But he always answers the phone when I need someone to talk to about how bad my day was.

So here’s to you, Dad. Thank you for giving me so many better things that outweigh the trivial ‘bad’ ones. Thank you for always calling me during Bones and telling me I watch dumb television shows. Thanks for making pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head and making me write that book. Thank you for all the times you went to Disneyland and couldn’t walk very well, but we spent the whole day there regardless. Thank you for pushing me to apply for an editor position I didn’t think I could do, and for challenging me to see the value in that professor that I really didn’t like freshman year. Thank you for telling me that one boyfriend was not going to be the one, and even when I ignored you for months, you patiently waited for me to come back to you. Thanks for telling the same jokes, lecturing at every school I’ve attended, going to Journalism class with me in high school just to hang out, and for still doing comedy shows just so that you can help other people.

No accomplishment in my professional or personal life will ever surpass the feeling I get when you tell me that you’re proud of me.

Thank you for being the best part of me.

3 Comments on Sweeney: Things my dad should have heard sooner

  1. Great article Katie, miss you guys.

  2. Great article Katie, miss you guys

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