How Heartache Changes You

My dad passed away 13 days ago and for the past 13 days I have been wondering "what am I supposed to do now?" I made the closing remarks at his service and I told everyone about some of the fun things I remember about my dad, some of the things that he did that made me feel special, and some of the things I would miss. I shared with everyone there that we didn't have the closest relationship, it was complicated, it was strained, and it was far from perfect. Its been a hard 13 days.

 You're a grandpa! Meeting Emily for the first time August 2006 (Emily was 7 days old)

You're a grandpa! Meeting Emily for the first time August 2006 (Emily was 7 days old)

I've endured a lot for my age. This though, this has been the hardest lesson of all. It is one of those things that you know will happen. I mean, we know that life is short, we know that in an instant things can change. I was just never expecting it to happen like this, to me. I was never expecting to grieve this way. I am not only grieving the loss of my dad, but death is so much more than that. It can steal your joy and take with it any hope for what you once had, it can bring with it a regret that is heavier than anything you have ever carried... I'm trying my best to take this heartache and make something of it. I want to be intentional with my relationships, with my words and with my actions...

I started this blog entry 13 days after my father passed away and I couldn't quite wrap my mind around what I was feeling and put it into words what I wanted to say. Should I even share it here? Am I being to vulnerable? Here I am 14 weeks later...I have obviously decided to share it because I don't know who reads this blog anyway and there just might be someone who is feeling just as alone and abandoned in grief as I am and what I really want and need is for someone to take away something positive from the loss of my father.. even if you didn't know him. If I can spare someone else the deep pain of regret I am now navigating through this is worth it. Every day is a little better, but each day I have a moment that washes over me. I'm learning to wade in this water and not drown. I appreciate everyone who has reached out to me and showed me grace and mercy. I said earlier that I read the closing remarks at his funeral and nothing I can say will express how I feel more than that. I want to share those words today. 

Eulogy- For Jeff Chandler January 22, 2018

For those of you who do not know me, I am Amber. I am Jeff's oldest daughter. I want to start by thanking each of you for coming here today. For supporting and loving our family and honoring our dad. 

It has been a rough week, sorting through everything I am feeling, making these arrangements, ordering these flowers, and picking out something for my dad to wear today... While my Uncle Steven and I were doing that I became overwhelmed thinking about the memories I didn't make with him and the ones I never will. My dad and I did not have the closest relationship and at that moment I started to doubt that we had one at all, no matter how complicated or confusing it may have been. I told my Uncle Steven I couldn't find any photos of us from when I was younger. I was beginning to feel anxious and panicked because I KNEW we had photos together. I KNEW it. I think my Uncle knew how I was feeling and he took me to my dad's room. We walked over to his brand new dresser ( so brand new that he hadn't even had the chance to fill it with clothing) Every drawer except the second was empty. In the second drawer he placed our memories. All the photos were there. OUr first flight together, our trip to Disney World, To Georgia, to Illinois, our plan ticket stubs. That drawer to me meant hope. He held on to all those things because he loved me He carried those things to each and every house and all the doubt had creeped in was now gone. Others may not understand our relationship, but we had one and I know my dad loved me and I loved him. 

I never realized how much I was like my dad until this week. He had so many photos and it was difficult to find ones with him in them because he was always taking the pictures. As a photographer now I think I got the love of capturing photos from my father. 

I don't know if all of you know this, but my dad LOVED to shop. Specifically at Nordstroms When I was younger though my weekends with him always included a trip to the mall. Lakeline Mall and Barton Creek. He bought me my first pair of Doc Martin Sandals and Luck You perfume from The Buckle. I thought I was hot stuff walking into school that following week. I always had new clothes and shoes that my dad had picked out for me and had ready for me to wear when I arrived in Austin. 

We look a lot alike and when I was younger my Grandma always used to tell me that. I would get so upset and tell her, "I do not look like a guy" Looking at all of his photos this week, I am thankful I resemble my dad so much, he was such a handsome guy. 

As I said before this week has been rough. I struggled this weekend to write all my feelings out. As I started writing down my thoughts many things came flooding back to me. It is almost impossible to share everything you want to share in such a short amount of time and I wanted to honor my dad the best I could. I asked God to give me the right words to say and the strength to share them here tonight. I feel like He gave me something very special to share.

I hope by sharing my experience with you all, I am able to save you from a lifetime of regret.

In life we are given situations that teach us lessons. Some lessons are harder than others, but these lessons shape us and make us who we are. I will be completely honest and tell you that the lesson I learned on January 16th has been the hardest one in my 31 years. 

I've learned life is short. I've learned sometimes you don't get a second chance. I've learned you can never say " I love you" to much. A phone call can mean the world sometimes. A simple hug can replace the feeling of loneliness, and the biggest one of all- no matter how a relationship has started you can't always wait on the other person to take the first step because at some point you'll be the one left standing with nowhere to go. So love your family and make sure they know it! Make your time count because there is truly never enough of it. 

I am guilty of not doing all of these things and I want to take a moment to address my family. 

Jasmyn, I love you. There isn't a thing in the world I wouldn't do for you. My home is always open to you and if you are ever anything you need I will be the first in my car and drive to Austin to be with you. 

Chris and Steven, You two bring me so much joy. I am so proud to call you both my Uncles! Chris thank you for being my comic relief this week and ensuring me that you love me and are here for me. Steven, I am the carbon copy of you. Thank you for being my rock this week and for everything you have done. 

Grammy and Papa, I love you. I have no words to adequately express my sadness for what you are feeling. I will do whatever I can to ease your burden. 

James and Emily, You are both my heartbeats. Thank you for the safety and comfort you provide me in your arms. I love you both to the moon and back. 

Dad, 

I'm going to miss you! Your lame jokes, your facial expressions, your Facebook messages, your phone calls, the smell of your cologne, and the way you gave hugs with your whole self. Thank you for always trying. Thank you for treasuring our memories. I hope I can continue to make you proud. 

Happy Birthday Dad, I love you!

Amber

 One of the first times I met my dad. I was 6or 7 here. He was about 23 or 24. We look just alike. 

One of the first times I met my dad. I was 6or 7 here. He was about 23 or 24. We look just alike.