Monday, January 27, 2014

11 years ago today my dad died...

I don’t remember a lot about it. Well, I do and I don’t. It’s interesting how the mind semi-suppresses traumatic events. Of course I remember, but only sort of. Those moments--waking up at 3 in the morning to a phone call saying he wouldn't make it, rushing to the hospital, watching him flat-line--they are etched into my memory. Yet, the images themselves are faulty, almost fluid. Muffled. Like watching a scene unfold underwater--the sights and sounds distorted by the murky depths of a dark, ominous body of water. I remember some details, like touching his cold hands… because his hands were never cold. He would always warm my hands, but his felt like ice. It was all wrong. I remember my mom crying, but only vaguely. I remember lots of hugs, but the faces are muted. I couldn't tell you who was present and who wasn't. What I can remember with any certainty are the emotions. They are vividly seared into my psyche, into my soul. The abruptness of it all. His death was unexpected. There was disbelief combined with raw, gut-wrenching, soul shattering sadness--the kind of despair that can’t be described, and can only be understood by those who have lost someone very dear to them.

I was 14 years old, and my daddy was gone. 

My whole world had been ripped out from underneath me.

11 years. It’s strange, really. I've lived almost as long without my Dad as I did with him. I've done a lot of growing in this last decade plus one. I graduated high school, college, I’m married, I’m a mother… by all accounts, I’m a grown up. A full-fledged adult. But, he wasn't here to see any of it. I didn't get a daddy-daughter dance at my wedding and I’ll never see him hold any of my babies. It’s funny how days like this can cut me down, and make me feel 14 again--a broken little girl who wants nothing more than to be held by her daddy.

Just as I wrote that, as that old familiar sting of sadness began to settle in, my sweet, intuitive little daughter came over and demanded to be held. I was typing while she played with her toys. She was completely engrossed in them, independently, contently playing. But, the moment I needed her... there she was. A timely intervention. I was about to get lost in myself, and in that moment she redirected my attention. She climbed up, relaxed her little body, and snuggled into me. I got lost in her instead. Those of you who have (or have had) a 1 year old know that (apart from sleep time) these moments are quite rare. I think she knew I needed her. She reminded me what is important. She reminds me what's important. 

My Dad's name was Klair. I am Autumn Klair. My daughter is Klair Marie. 

I suppose I can't be held by Klair, so I hold Klair instead. 
She brings light to my darkness. 

I miss my dad. I miss so many things about him. I was always such a daddy's girl. I will always be one. He was an incredible person--the kind of individual that people liked to like. Dad was a “people person,” so to speak. Instantly endearing. He had a warmth about him, a gentleness, a kind smile. He was extremely humble. He was real. He didn't have a pretentious bone in his body and he accepted people for who they are. He really, truly loved people. He was very Christ-like. 

When I was little I would fall asleep in his arms every night. 
(These are just scanned from a scrapbook so please ignore the not-so-ideal quality and cutesy scrapbook decorations.)

My dad was funny, in a quirky kind of way--always telling silly jokes, making the kind of puns that would elicit a smile and maybe even an eye roll. He was a devoted Utah Jazz fan, hunter, fisher, painter, guitarist, and a blue-collared man all his days. He worked hard with his hands to provide for his family. And, even though we often barely scraped by, we never felt poor. 

My dad loved to learn. He was extremely intelligent and hungered after knowledge. He had a particular fondness for the Discovery Channel and History Channel. In another life he would have liked to have been a history teacher. I think it's a large part of why I chose to be a social studies teacher. 

He had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember him telling me that it all fit together "like a puzzle" and that it "just made sense." He said it so matter-of-factly. I don't know if he realized the impact that conversation had on me. I have reflected on this often as my own testimony has grown. 

He was a fun dad. He took guitar lessons with me, even though he already knew how to play. We had regular movie nights on the weekends complete with too much junk food. He coached my sister's softball and my soccer team—always on the sidelines cheering us on. In the summer we played catch, Frisbee, and went for bike rides and long walks with our dogs. In the winter he would come outside and play in the snow with us. He bought a hat at Disneyland that said “I’m never growing up” and this was his mantra. He was big kid at heart. 

He had two girls, and loved us. Some men who only have daughters mourn the fact that they never had a son. He never did, and he never put us in a box labeled “girl.” He gave us every opportunity and encouraged us to do whatever we could dream of. He took us hiking, camping, fishing, and boating. He played and watched sports with us, and we had regular video game nights. He even let me go hunting with him (despite my perpetual “Bambi” references and petitions). And, when the occasion called for it, I remember him fumbling to try and do my hair. 

I definitely look like my dad, and I like to think that I inherited some of the qualities that made him so lovable. I know that my little Klair Bear certainly has. At first I wondered about naming her after my Dad, thinking perhaps it might be too painful. Now, I’m so glad that we did. 

She has brought new life to his name, to his memory.
I miss my dad, but I am confident I will see him again. I know that he watches over my family. 
I know that he is waiting on the other side to receive me and give me a big “bear” hug. 
How grateful I am for the atonement of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that family relationships are perpetuated beyond the grave.

On days like this, it's enough to calm my troubled heart. 

Also, this song is currently stuck in my head. 
Do you ever feel like a song speaks so perfectly 
to what you're feeling that you're convinced it 
was written just for you in that moment?


  1. this is such a beautiful post & such a beautiful story. i love that you named klair after your dad!

  2. We have lots of good memories of your dad too! He was one of a kind and Steve always looked forward to him coming on the hunt. His name is still carved in a table at the cabin, and there is a spot on one of their regular hunting drives that they still call "Klair's hole". Some day I need to send you several pictures that we have of him. Thank you so much for sharing your memories! Love ya!

    1. I'm assuming this is Aunt Patsy? Thank you so much! I really enjoy hearing these stories. I would absolutely love to see any and all pictures that you have of him. Love you too :)

  3. This is such a heartfelt post. So sweet and so sincere. It is such a comfort knowing families can be together forever :)
    Love how much value is behind your daughter's name!


    1. Thank you, Emma! I really appreciate that. You always leave the sweetest comments :)

  4. What a sweet memorial to your dad!

  5. This is a beautiful post. He seems like an amazing person.


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