My dad, Derek George DeBacker was the sweetest, most caring man. Never missed a game, or even a practice for that matter. His children’s biggest cheerleader. His goofiness was contagious and his jokes often got him into a little trouble. Playing hooky with me all the time to take me skiing on a blue-bird powder day. Prank calling my friends with me. Waking me up at 2am to get eggs benedict with him at a 24-hour diner. Dancing the night away with me in the living room while my brother played the drums on pots and pans. The childhood he provided us with was so rich with laughter and play. I felt so loved and I loved him so much.
The day I lost him. The day itself is less of a feeling than those SEVEN years that have passed so quickly. Too quickly. It’s an emptiness I have started to realize will always exist, but a void I am slowly beginning to feel so comfortable with. As a 14 year old with an attitude bigger than Paris Hilton’s, I was the furthest from capable. But we shouldn’t be capable of handling death. Let me tell you, I don’t think that should be a quality you want to possess. What we should be capable of is learning acceptance. Acceptance that the emptiness will exist, but regardless, to be able to lay your head down at night and be at PEACE with that emptiness. To me, that is part of what ‘Peace of Derek’ means. Possessing that Peace of Derek no matter what. Knowing that the emptiness he has left me can never be replaced, but accepting that.
I want to say losing my father at 14 is the hardest thing I will ever have to go through, but I think losing my father at 14 has PREPARED me for the hardest thing I will some day have to go through. It has given me the courage to knock down fear and push aside anger. It has put me in deep pain, and that pain has shown me how horrible it is to have a broken heart without my dad, but that has led me to see the importance of love and family. Happiness has a different meaning to me since I can remember being at my lowest when I was mourning for my father. At 22, being able to reflect on such experiences with my heart ready to learn, be loved, and even hurt, I feel so blessed. I feel ready to take on the world.
It’s so difficult to not have him laughing with me. Guiding me with his knowledge and love. I struggle every day wishing I could call him and tell him about my day, even if nothing happened. I struggle knowing my kids won’t get to meet such an amazing man to be able to call “Grandpa Derek.” I struggle knowing my arm will not be linked to his walking me down the isle on my wedding day. It’s all such a struggle, but what keeps me going is finding the PEACE within those struggles. Finding my Peace of Derek. Finding those moments in my memories and deep inside my heart. Being able to simply smile at a memory that crosses my mind, even just for 10 seconds. Finding my Peace of Derek in the most simplest of things. That is what those struggles are about. That is how I overcome them: I find my Peace of Derek.
I hope you find your Peace of Derek because it is there. I am still searching to put my Peaces of Derek together, but it is a journey and most of all, it is life. Good luck and never give up. One day, it will all PEACE together!