When you lose a parent — in my case, my father three years ago — you lose more than you can imagine. You lose your father choking up on your wedding day or welcoming his first grandchild to the world. More than that, you lose the little things, like an afternoon spent watching the Vikings or an evening learning how to barbecue the perfect ribs. Those memories, and events yet-to-happen, burn bright in my mind — I’ll never forget them, but I’ll also never let them define me.
The day he died, my mother shared these words with me, and they’ve allowed me to move past the anger, the pain, and the sadness that came when I was just 20 years-old:
“You can’t let this define you, Austin. Try to remember the good times, and find strength in the bad ones.”
It’s difficult to look back and think of those happy moments — our last few years together were unbearably difficult. But in the time since his passing, I HAVE found strength in a number of people; my amazing mother, my twin sister, my incredible uncle, and other close friends.
I wish my father was a part of that list, but if there’s one connection, one memory I can cling to, it’s our unbreakable bond over the Minnesota Vikings. Our happiest memories together came sitting in front of the TV every Sunday, cheering on our favorite team in purple and gold. I won’t let his death define the rest of my life, but I’ll always hold the my father’s beloved team near and dear to my heart.