I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing outside the airport terminal in Michigan, eager to get to Spain already.
I was headed to Barcelona for a semester abroad and couldn't wait to leave my family and embark on the adventures ahead. Little did I know that when my Dad stepped forward to hug me, it would be the last embrace that we would ever have.
Weeks later, my dad died in a car accident.
It's been two years since that goodbye. Two years since I heard his voice or laughed at one of his hilariously charming jokes. Two years since I received his top-notch advice or felt the comfort only a daughter feels when she holds her father tight -- hoping to never let go.
So, how is a girl supposed to carry on after she is left without her "person?" How about just by telling you all how awesome he was?
My dad had Super Dad powers. Somehow, he really did have the ability to be in 10 different places at the same time. He could drive me and my two sisters, Jordan and Eden, to dance practice while packing our school lunches, swinging by our friend's houses to pick us up and still get us to our piano lessons on time. He sounds kind of like a really great chauffeur, but he even had another full-time job: He was writing five New York Times best-selling books and incredibly moving weekly Wall Street Journal columns while interviewing various celebrities out of his home office, which looks like this:
(Oh yeah, did I mention he was a bit messy? He liked to refer to it as "organized chaos.")
He also somehow managed to never miss a morning highway wave to my mom as she drove past his Wall Street Journal office in Detroit on her way to work.
I wasn't kidding when I told you he had incredible Super Dad powers! He raised three daughters, was a hopelessly devoted husband and had a kick-ass career.
Just by watching the way he treated my mom, he taught my sisters and me how to love. My dad's endless love for her was more beautiful to watch than a movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel. He had so much respect for her and her career, which helped shape my sisters and me into the ambitious young women we are today.
In case you thought being Super Dad wasn't enough, he also had the ability to make everyone he came into contact with feel special. When the mailman would pull up, he would run outside just to ask him how his day was going. When we went out to eat, he would get to know every waiter's entire life story by the end of the meal because he genuinely cared. My dad performed acts of kindness everywhere he went.
He was leaving dinner with a good friend when they passed a homeless man on the street. His friend walked right by, but my dad stopped and gave the man $5. He then looked at his friend and said, "You can't just walk past a human being."
His voice is constantly woven into my thoughts, telling me to be the nicest I can possibly be. When I pass a homeless person, I hear him say, "Al, just take a minute to give him a couple bucks." When a cab driver looks like he's been driving all night, my dad pops into my head and says, "Ask him how his night is going." My dad would have found out all of the cab drivers' children's names and ages by the end of the ride, of course. (To see more of the life lessons my dad taught to so many others, watch the video compilation below.)
My dad knew the answers to everything -- think encyclopedia-meets-love doctor. He gave me expert advice on any and all "girl problems" I threw his way.
He had an assortment of magic tricks that he would perform, and I would just sit there watching him, in awe and feeling special -- not only because I knew how he did each and every one of them, but because my dad was magical and everyone in the room watching him agreed.
He'd perform my favorite trick on the boardwalk at the Jersey shore, where we used to spend part of our summers. He would go underneath the boardwalk and stick a dollar bill up through the cracks, and make someone feel lucky when they walked by and thought they found a dollar. As the passerby reached for it, he would quickly pull it down, which confused everyone.
Not only was he hilarious and magical, but he also knew how to make his daughters feel special. He always made us feel like we were the most beautiful girls in the room. Of course, every father thinks that of their daughters, but not every father makes sure that their daughters know how they feel on a daily basis. He didn't compliment us too much to the point where we would get cocky. He did it in just the right way -- giving us the boost of confidence needed to go on and feel good about ourselves.
It's been two years since we were standing outside the airport terminal. Two years since I've seen his magical Super Dad powers or received his thoughtful advice.
Although he hasn't physically been with me for the past two years, he still continues to help me become the person who would make him proud. I make a daily effort to live out his legacy.
So thank you, Dad, for always making me feel special. You instilled valuable lessons in me, which have helped guide me through some highs and lows the past two years.
You will always be magical in my eyes.
I love you, Daddy.