The world has changed, and Dad isn't here for it.
The anniversary of my school closing down due to COVID just passed. It was definitely odd, looking at the calendar and realizing that, one year ago on that day, I was packing up my locker, thinking I was just getting an extended spring break.
One of the strangest things to me about the pandemic is that my dad will never know about it. This big thing that has completely changed my - and everyone’s - life is something he wasn't here for. My dad will never experience wearing a mask everywhere, getting his temperature checked all the time, and having the world temporarily shut down.
I’ve talked about this before, but I avoided change after my dad died. Some part of my brain was convinced that I had to be the same person I was before he died. The person that - if he saw me - he’d recognize me instantly. Physically and mentally. It’s been years since he died, though, and change has been inevitable, even when I still avoided it.
While that fear of changing myself has gone away, seeing the world change so much over the past year has brought back some of those feelings. I hate the fact that, if Dad came back right now and walked around where he used to live, he would barely recognize it. The world he left is completely different than the world I’m living in right now.
Something I’ve started reminding myself is that change is going to happen no matter what. Even if this pandemic didn’t happen, the world would have eventually have changed a lot. Change is scary, especially when you’re experiencing it without someone you love, but it has to happen.
When it feels like the world is changing a lot, I sometimes talk to my dad. When I’m driving, trying to fall asleep, or doing something important, I fill him in on my life. Sometimes these little “updates” are as little as me cutting my hair or as big as the pandemic. Even though I’m not actually having a conversation with him, it helps me feel like I’m not leaving him behind, and he’s still a big part of my life.
I got past my fear of changing myself, so I know I’ll get past the fear of the world-changing, too. Coming up with little ways of coping, like talking to him, helps a lot.
We can all get through this.
Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Follow her on Twitter @natalieladams.