My entire life, people have told me that I look like my dad. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except I’m a GIRL. I didn’t want to look like my dad. I didn’t want to look like a boy. When I was little and people would say that, I would cry. I wanted to look like my mom. “I want to look like a girl!” I would yell. My mom would always assure me that I did look like a girl, but it didn’t help.
My sister looks exactly like my mom. They have the same face shape, the same smile, the same eyes. It’s so annoying. I would always question why I couldn’t look like my mom too. And my mom would say, “You look like you and that’s beautiful.” Blah…whatever that means.
As I got older and people would say that I looked like my dad, my mom would quickly say that I looked my Aunt Jenna, my dad’s sister….that appeased most people, but there was always that one person that would refuse to see it and keep insisting that I looked like my dad. I hated it. Really, really hated it. I would stare in the mirror and see his eyes and his nose and his cheekbones, and his smile, and his hair and his ears and, and, and. Sigh. I would try to hide it with makeup, try to hide it with different hair colors, try to just…just….HIDE. But nothing changed it. Nothing.
And then one day, my perspective changed. Some $%@# drunk driver decided that his self-pity party was more important than my dad’s life. I remember getting the call from my mom and hearing her voice telling me to come home and knowing that something had happened…something horrible. I remember listening to the police officer telling us about the accident and my mom bursting into tears and my sister sitting there with no emotion. I remember feeling numb. Like I was floating or walking in a story of someone else’s life.
At the funeral, I stood silently watching people walk up to his casket, sniffle, shake their head, and then walk away, dabbing their eyes. I never understood the purpose of an open casket…that is until that day. After the crowd thinned out, I decided to look into my dad’s casket. I had told myself before that I wasn’t going to do it. That I wasn’t going to look at him like that, because I refused to remember him dead and only wanted to remember him alive. But something came over me, and I just had to look. So I did.
His face was solemn….not like him at all. He was always smiling, always laughing, always cracking jokes. I looked closer at his face. I looked at his eye shape…they were my eye shape. I looked at his nose…same as mine. His cheekbones..same. His ears…same. Lips..same. Hair…same.
As I continued to stare at him, I felt an arm slide around my shoulder. It was my mom. I didn’t look at her, because I knew she was crying…and I.Refused.To.Cry. She leaned over and whispered this sentence that changed everything, “I know that your whole life that you have hated people telling you that you look like your dad. But today, I am thankful that you do. Because when I miss him, really, really miss him, I can look at you and see his eyes, and his nose, and his hair, and his smile and know that he is still with us and watching out for us.”
So today, I stand a little taller and lot prouder, because guess what? I look just like my dad.
WRITTEN BY H.A.