You’re Luckier Than You Realize

In a typical day, we are bombarded by tens of thousands of messages. From the advertisements that fill every corner of that website you’re visiting, to radio and TV commercials, to 5-seconds of an ad you have to endure in order to see a video on YouTube.

But the other day, the Facebook post of a friend stopped me dead in my tracks. So, I had to share it with you and I will, in just a moment.

Over time, this friend turned into a honorary son, yet we also became big pals when hanging out together at a local ad agency. I went to an Apple Cup game in Pullman with him years ago. During that year of the Seahawks/Pittsburgh Super Bowl, we watched every Hawks game together. He was the photographer at my wedding, and we continue to work together on occasional projects utilizing his videographer skills.

As a personal anniversary passed of a sad day in his life, he wrote down his thoughts in that Facebook post and I couldn’t help but picture myself in either his position, or that of his late father. I was fortunate enough to have my father around until 5 years ago, so he saw what I became and how I was doing in life. I’ve also had the good fortune of being able to watch both of my kids grow up, having been quite involved with that process, and eventually letting them go to live their own lives and adventures.

Brian was not that fortunate. Here’s his post:

Hard to believe, but 20 years ago today I lost my dad and my best friend.

In the fall of 1999, we found out my dad had kidney cancer. Just a few months later he was gone. It happened so fast. All of a sudden, the house was empty. Our little family was devastated.

It was my senior year of high school and I became a part of a club that no one wants to be in… the “Dead Parent Club.” When you’re young, it’s a small club. Only those that are in it truly understand. I tried to do what he would have wanted me to do… take care of Mom, press on, live my life, honor him, and never forget him. It hasn’t been easy.

My dad was a police officer in Seattle. For over 30 years, he caught bad guys and built relationships with people in the city. He worked weird schedules, but still managed to have time to help coach my baseball and soccer teams, go to my jazz band concerts, and help out at horse shows. He took me to Mariners, Sonics, and Seahawks games. We were buds.

My dad was the kind of person that everyone loved. At his memorial and in the days to follow, I saw grown men and tough-guy cops crying while telling stories about him. His death had a huge impact on people. There was some sort of comfort knowing that other people missed him as much as I did.

20 years later, people still talk about my dad. They tell stories about the fun times they had with him, how much he loved his job, how much he adored his four kids, how goofy he was, and how he made them feel when he was around. No one is perfect, even my dad, but we were all better having known him.

I’m thankful for everything I have now… an amazing wife, two beautiful kids, a loving mother, a great step-dad who treats us like his own, supportive friends and family. I wish he could be here to see all of this.

20 years later, it still doesn’t feel right. It makes me sad to know that I’ve been without him longer than I was with him. He never got the chance to come to WSU for a Dad’s Weekend. He never got to meet my wife and his grandkids. He should have been here for all of that, but these are the things life throws at us. In so many ways, he’s a part of me now.

I will press on.

I will live my life.

I will honor him every chance I get.

I will never forget him.

I love you, Dad. I miss you every day.

I still can’t read that without getting a little teary-eyed. A beautiful piece, Brian, and I’m compelled to put in front of as many eyes who will read it as possible. Dads or moms, sons or daughters, the fact that you’re here and able to read it means you are luckier than a lot of people on this earth.

As the years roll by, I find myself intentionally lapsing into more and more reflective moments of appreciation. It’s a delicate balance, because you can swirl downward and only focus on the sadness of your life or what you have lost. But I prefer to flip it around and appreciate all that I’ve had and have been able to enjoy.

And I am blessed.

That’s why I did the hand-off to Brian this week. He made it through something that could have easily redirected his life into the wrong direction. Today, he’s living a dream with a beautiful wife, both of them have great careers and two darling kids.

As a son, I can’t even fathom how my life would have turned out if I had lost my father. As a dad, the idea of not having been around for my kids is unthinkable.

Thanksgiving, certain holidays and anniversaries occasionally make us realize how lucky we are. May I suggest that you make it a day practice, perhaps the first thing you do once you’ve had a cup of coffee and you’re mildly coherent. Look around at all you have and the positive people in your life. Don’t waste a moment on the negative forces out there or what you don’t have.

You’re luckier than you realize. I know I am.

Tim Hunter

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