This post is awfully heavy for my 2nd blog post back but it doesn’t feel right not sharing today. This has been something I have wanted to share on my blog for quite a while as it is a huge part of my story. I have always been a bit shy on sharing due to feeling like the post may not be perfect or make much sense but 10 years is a long time and I feel it in my heart to let you into this part of my life.
10 Years Ago Today…
10 years ago, on July 27th 2010 I lost my father to cancer. Writing those words fills my eyes with tears. Even after all of this time, the reality of my past doesn’t truly hit me emotionally until I say those words. On this very day 10 years ago, I was 14 years old about to start my freshman year in High School. I vividly remember these moments like it was yesterday and it still plays in my head like a movie when I let my mind wander to that place. It was a day that changed my life forever. A hard day for many reasons, but a day I am no longer shy talking about.
James, Jim, Jimmy, Lambo – My Dad was the light of our lives. My brother Jack and I were his world and the more I grow older the more evident that becomes. He coached little league, soccer and got us started dirt biking young. He loved fishing, golfing, camping, snowmobiling and the great outdoors. Also known for his taste in music, he always had a playlist going – U2 (He proposed to my mom at their concert!), Bon Jovi, The Goo Goo Dolls, Lynard Skynard are what I can remember him playing most, always the life of the party. Lover of Portillo’s Chocolate Cake, which we still make for his annual birthday celebration. He loved to make people laugh and boy was he good at it. Not only did he like to amuse others with his jokes he was always looking for ways to help others – many would agree he was a Good Samaritan. He wanted nothing but the best for his family and worked incredibly hard to provide us with a beautiful life. I was a Daddy’s girl for sure, him and I shared such a special relationship.
The 6 Letter Word That Changed Everything… Cancer
Easter weekend when I was in 5th grade was when my parents broke the news to my then 8 year old brother and I that my Dad had cancer. Add this to the list of “days I will never forget”. It shattered my innocent little girl heart to see MY hero’s eyes fill with tears telling his children that he had cancer. My Dad was fairly young to be diagnosed with this at the time rare form of cancer, Multiple Myeloma. For a man who could fix just about anything, this was sadly something my Daddy couldn’t change.
Team Lambo | KTF | The Gary Family
After the initial shock wore off from the news, my Dad was ready for his fight. We named ourselves Team Lambo and our family motto was and still is, Keep The Faith. Little red bracelets were worn by our friends and family in support of my Dad and his journey which was referred to as “Jim’s Race” – a nod to his motocross racing days. Our extended family, neighbors and community truly rallied around my family and for that I am forever grateful to the families of Glen Ellyn. While there are many very special families that were extremely helpful to us, the most notable family is our dear friends, The Gary’s. If you grew up in Glen Ellyn, the chances that you know the Gary family are very high. They are the epitome of an All American, Christian family that loves on anyone to walk through their doors and our story would not be complete without them. We were blessed to become very close with them as their 2 boys are Jack and I’s age and my mom and Christy became great friends. This family means the world to me and I do not know what my family would be like without them. They poured Christ into our lives, let Jack and I live with them on and off for 2 years while my mom was constantly at the hospital with my Dad and made the hardest years of our lives some of the best. They were our constant during those years.
Watching My Dad Face Cancer
Through my father’s 4 year battle with cancer I did not hear him complain one single time. He never spoke about his pain and absolutely never let anyone feel sorry for him. I’m fairly certain I only saw him cry 2 times in my life – the day he told us he had cancer and when we went to visit him at the hospital after Christmas. He was on a ventilator for weeks and we were preparing for him to pass. I remember all of my family coming into town and one by one scrubbing down to get our turn holding his hand in the ICU. I get flashbacks from time to time – I remember exaclty what the room looked like, the sounds of the ventilator and machines going off. I do not know how I was so strong for a then 12 year old to see my Dad like that, I would be a wreck at this age. But I had faith, we all did. My Dad miraculously recovered and slowly gained strength to continue his fight. As I was saying, we went to visit him after he was extubated and had a tracheostomy. He could barley talk but when he saw us, tears streamed down his face and the only thing he could say was “I’m so sorry I missed Christmas”. That was the kind of man my father was – it was never about him.
Losing Our Angel
After seeing my Dad go through chemo, dialysis, radiation, 2 stem cell transplants, a bone marrow transplant and countless long stints in the hospital but always come home stronger – we always assumed he would be okay. Maybe that was me being an optimistic and naive little girl, but I truly never thought we would lose my Dad. We were told earlier that week that the cancer had taken over his body and there was no longer anything they could do. I absolutely can not imagine hearing those words as a wife, that must have been the worst day of my mothers life. But she kept it together in front of us. They started him on hospice and were going to transport him to our home so we could all be there while he passed comfortably but they decided to keep him at the hospital as he would not have made it through transportation. I remember my last visit with him. His room was a lot different than the many other hospital rooms he had been in. I walked in and although he was not responsive, I knew he was with me. I held his warm hand and just talked to him for hours. I told him about my volleyball camp, about my feelings starting high school, all of the fun I had been having at the Watterson’s house that week, reminiscing on different family memories and I also remember praying with him. I did not talk to him as if he was dying or as if those would be my last words to him. It still hadn’t hit me that these were our final moments. Oh what I would do to go back to that very moment now.
The Last 10 Years | What I Have Lost & What I Have Gained
We are all on a journey. Each decision we make and trial we face affects where our journey’s lead us. In a split second, the course of our lives could change forever. The Lord has protected me a lot on my journey and one thing I am certain of is His faithfulness. God was so gracious to give me a wonderful earthly father for 14 beautiful years and although He called my Daddy home I have only found hope in my Heavenly Father who loves me deeper than I will ever know. Each person He places in our lives is a blessing that we should not take for granted. We do not deserve anything from Him but He showers us with abundant love and blessings so freely. Each day and each loved one is a gift, His gift to us.
If I am being quite honest – for many reasons, I would not be the young lady I am today without losing my Dad and there are many people to thank for the love they poured into my life through my High school and teenage years. I am almost certain that my faith would not be as deep and I very well could have never met my husband had my Dad still been alive. I truly believe that losing my Dad prepared me to find William and that he was Gods blessing to me. Trusting Gods plan for your life is by no means an easy feat, it is challenging, trying and sometimes feels impossible, but I promise you that His plan for me has been far better than any plan I could have dreamed up for myself and I could not be any more grateful for the beautiful life I have today.
I see people ask this question all the time: If you could have dinner with one person dead or alive who would it be? The usual answers are an old legend or celebrity but my answer is and always will be my Dad. I would do anything to hear his voice, hold is hand, ask him questions about his life, get his opinions on things in mine, ask for one of his special kisses on my forehead and hear him say “I love you Beccaboo”.
Songs That Have Helped Me Heal & Find Hope
Yes I Will – Vertical Worship
You Never Let Go – AJ Michalka
How Deep – Kings Kaleidoscope
Oceans – Hillsong UNITED
Cry Out To Jesus – Third Day
Even If – MercyMe
Sadly, I have had a handful of very dear friends join me on this journey of losing a parent in the last few years. Each one hit me so deeply and personally – because I know how lonely and heart shattering it can feel. Grief is a very strange thing. There is no right or wrong. Some days you may feel fine, other days you might hear a song that will fill your eyes with tears and all you want to do is look through old photos of your loved one. I know the place, I have been there. Even after 10 years those days still come, though they are less frequent, they still hit just as deep. I pray for each one of those friends regularly. I pray that God would protect them and bless them as he has blessed me.
If you have lost a parent, spouse, child or loved one – my heart truly aches for you. I would not wish this pain on anyone however, I am grateful to say I have found peace after the loss of my Dad and know he’s got the best seat in the house watching my life play out as my guardian angel. Thank you for taking the time to read this special post about my Dad, it was very hard to write but I feel it is honoring to share his life and legacy.