It’s been five years today.

Five years ago someone shot my and killed my dad. Five years ago my life changed forever. It was one of those moments where we split our history into two, before that day and after it.

I have thought a lot about if and what I would write about today. Sometimes I am so tired of being sad about his loss. Should I try to reclaim this day? Turn into a day of celebration remembering all the good things about my dad? I remind myself of his undeniable, unconditional love for me, his bursting pride that would embarrass me as he endlessly bragged about my educational accomplishments or tell his friends how many marathons I had run. I remember his twisted sense of humor and how he could turn uncomfortable moments even more uncomfortable with a bad joke. I remember his impressions of people that would make us howl with laughter, I remember how he would roll down his window when we were driving and randomly scare passengers or cyclists. This wasn’t polite but it made me nearly pee my pants with laughter and that’s why he did it. I remember how he loved when my sister and I would recite lines from Saturday Night Live sketches and funny movies. He loved to put on a show and have one put on for him. Nothing was off limits in being funny. When you have had to live through such hard times, humor is what gets you through. He taught me that.

And although it’s nice to stay in those happy memories, I still need to acknowledge and recognize this day for what it is. It was traumatizing and those trauma ripples are still occurring. That just is. I can’t change that and will sit in that today. Just as it is. I have stopped asking WHY ME? Why us? Because it has nothing to do with that. We didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve it. It just is. Why not me? Why not us? Why not him? None of us are above suffering. Beings are collectively suffering all around the world. This is my small part in it.

I have tried not to idealize or martyrize my dad after his passing. I realize who he was and the choices he made. And sometimes my anger towards him and the things he put me and my siblings through burns bright. But I also recognize and reconcile that he was indeed the man that loved us with a love so huge it felt overwhelming at times.

I remind myself that my dad was once this big headed baby with no clue about what this world had in store for him and what he had in store for the world.

And I remember that those individuals who took his life, well, they were once big headed babies too. And, their family is also experiencing hurt, pain and loss as they await to stand trial. And maybe we can all just have a little bit of understanding and softness towards one another.

And if maybe we can all just do that a little more. Not just to those we love but to those who we might even hate. To our enemies, to those who cut us off, to those who have hurt us, lied to us and intentionally betrayed us. Can we just show a little understanding? Not an excusing of behavior, but an acknowledgement of oh, you are hurt, that’s why you are hurting me. I think that small moment of acknowledgement can shift our whole approach, our whole understanding of a difficult situation.

I believe those small shifts in understanding and softening can change the world. I really do. It could have changed my dad’s world and as I sit in the aftermath of his loss, that approach changes the way I understand the violence, the loss and the trauma.

Love you dad. Keep sending me the signs, I see them everywhere.