Richard Keith Jones. January 29, 1962 - June 17, 1999.
Forgive me if I'm not the same person I usually am. It feels so hard to try and find the words to express what today means, what he means. I feel like I could never do him justice. Why? Because I know this man, but I don't know him. He was diagnosed with leukemia in August 1998, and was gone ten months later. When something this big happens all by your seventh birthday, it's hard to remember, I suppose. I have the stories that my mom tells me, but it still feels so impersonal, and that kills me, even now after ten years.
I want to remember so badly. I want to know what it was like to have my daddy hold me and tell me he loves me. I want to have good memories of time I got to spend with him, not have the first thing I remember to be waking up two days after my birthday to find my mom and pastor sitting in my living room. As much as I love my mom for all the sacrifices she's made, I constantly feel like something is missing. And I feel like no one understands how I feel because my sisters were old enough to remember what he was like.
He drove a delivery truck for UPS (United Parcel Service), and he delivered to the Ty Beanie Baby Company. The people there loved him so much that they frequently gave him beanie babies to take home to my sisters and me. Thanks to Chelsea allowing her friends to steal the gold necklace that I got from him for Christmas in 1998, those beanie babies are all I have left.
His death made me grow up faster than any seven-year-old should have to. I was afraid to show any emotion. I quickly figured out that if I was strong, I could help my mom. Even though she and my dad were separated and trying to get a divorce when he died, I think she was sad because she saw what losing him did to my sisters and me. That was when Chelsea's problems really started, and me? I'm not proud of it, but I refused to go to church, or even believe in God, for four years because my heart was hurting so horribly, and my young mind couldn't understand how a God that was supposed to love me could take away my father. I never "got over it" but I did come to terms with it. The beautiful thing about God is that He loves us even when we turn our backs on Him.
One of my favorite stories that my mom tells me is that in March of 1999, when I was at Duke having half my thyroid removed, my daddy was there, too, four floors above me. He called me every day that I was in recovery, and no matter how much pain I was in, my face always lit up at hearing his voice. I don't remember what I said. But that's not the important part. The important part to me is that he was my favorite person. I was Daddy's Princess. As my mom put it, I never ceased to amaze him or make him laugh with all the smart things I could say from a very young age. Now? I just hope I've made him proud. Family tells me that there's no way I couldn't have done that, but still. It just hurts to know that I'll never know.
This post wasn't easy for me. I was scared I'd never find the words to introduce him to you. I just wanted to get this off my chest and show the world the man who helped give me life.
Rest In Peace, Daddy. I miss and love you so much.