I know you probably know what tomorrow is, just as well as I do. On June 19, 2002, you left us. Tomorrow marks a decade. And I sit here and think, having just turned 22, I have lived almost half of my life without you now. It’s amazing that it’s been that long, to me. I still remember, so vividly, brief moments of the subsequent days. Getting the news. Standing up at the wake. The day of the funeral. My first social outings, a friend’s birthday party, and feeling numb and awkward. Really, life has been a one-day-at-a-time affair for most of the last ten years. The funny thing about that is, though, is that a lot of days pass when you’re busy living. And suddenly days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years into a decade.
In the years since you left us, I’ve grown so much. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve found a career that I am so passionate about and in love with, that it doesn’t feel real. I have made some of the most amazing friends, in the most unlikely ways. I’ve really come to understand that I am a blessed individual. While I’m not without my hardships, I have so much more to be thankful for than many others.
I’ve lived. I’ve really blazed my own trail. I’d wager that the last two years of life have contained more big lessons than much of the rest of my life, good and bad. I learned self-reliance. I learned that I could really like who I am if I stopped living to please others. I learned that change doesn’t have to be terrifying, that not everyone in life will leave you, and that I am capable of strength and will-power that would even surprise me.
But, hey, I’m a Rivard. We’re made of tough stuff.
It hasn’t always been an easy road. But it’s been my journey. And while it won’t be an easy day, I have people in my life who will make it better for me. It sounds like I’ll be in the city, reuniting with friends visiting from Europe. That isn’t a half bad way to keep myself occupied on the 10th anniversary of your passing. I’ve survived milestones before. I’ve survived birthdays and holidays and anniversaries. And I’ll survive more of them. And the world will keep turning and life will keep going and it will be up to me to find the good in it all.
I’ve lived up to the Rivard legacy; work hard, pray hard, love hard, play hard, and give all you can to what you commit yourself to. It seems a fitting tribute to you. While I’ve burnt myself out on this mentality a few times, I learn something each time. And, I’m getting better at managing it all. I can keep up with myself a little better than in the past. And it seems like every day of this day-to-day affair called “life,” I get more experience at managing everything.
We’re getting through, Dad. We’re “making it.” The rest of your children are upstanding, amazing individuals, with fantastic and diverse skill sets and talents and experiences and outlooks. Your grandchildren are absolutely wonderful; some of the coolest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and I have the distinct joy of watching them grow into outstanding individuals.
Some milestones since you left:
I graduated high school toward the top of my class, and won several very humbling awards and much-appreciated scholarships based on the commitment to community involvement that you fostered. I won art shows, writing contests, and speech competitions using the creativity that I inherited from you. I accidentally found the start to a career in agriculture, the lifestyle you taught us to love early on. We moved out of the house we lived in with you. It was a huge step toward releasing my roots and moving onward and upward. I drove to California and back, living a whole different life out there. I graduated from college, even after some very large shortcomings arose during those years…being diagnosed as bipolar, for instance. And now, I’m moving. To Kansas City. Another new stage, another new opportunity.
I won’t be able to stop and visit you as often, not that I do it as much as I should. I’m trying to learn to talk to you without a granite stone in front of me with your name etched on it. It’s taking some getting used to, but just like all the other massive changes in my life, it’ll settle out and I’ll adjust and adapt and come through with the system that works best for me. Rivards are mavericks and survivalists; thanks for passing on genes for those traits, they’ve been useful.
I guess what I wanted to say is that, we’re doing okay. It seems so strange that this milestone falls right in this incredibly pivotal time of my life, as if you’re intending me to do this sort of reflection. It’s not always easy, but I feel like the difficulties I’ve faced have helped me lead an extraordinary life so far…and I’m sure I’d be bored with “ordinary.”
I know you’re here. And I know you love me, and the rest of the family and friends who still hang out down here on Earth. Every now and then, I get this feeling, like you want me to know you’re here. And I appreciate it.
I love you, Daddy. And I’ll see you again someday down the road.
— Your baby girl