by Rachel on August 31, 2010

August 31, 1998 was my first day of eighth grade. It was a half day of school, and when I got home, my mom was waiting for me on the front porch. She asked me how my day went and then she said she was sorry…and I knew. I knew that my dad had died.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, today is a good day for you to read my very best article. Writing it was hard; sharing it on my blog was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I rarely talk about this loss because it’s not a frequent source of pain or a notable absence. But it is worth mentioning, because it’s a part of my life and part of who I am. I’m half-black and a half-orphan. I’ve owned it.

This is also why I get pissed when people are pessimists. Like, really? Your life is so hard? Ummm, fuck you. No, life isn’t perfect all the time. It’s hard and sad and bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it. But that’s why I laugh as much as I can and don’t take things too seriously — if I lived in a shadow of grief and let myself be defined by tragedy, I would never get out of bed in the morning.

Today just reminded me that I have a very good reason to be a pessimist…and I’m not one. And if anyone is reading this blog and yet somehow still on Team Eeyore, I thought I should remind you as well. I’m real, and I feel pain, and yet I still think life is awesome. I hope you will too!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jasmine @ Eat Move Write August 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I commented on the article itself. You are an incredible writer. I’m thankful to have read it. I think you’re great. I’m just sayin. :)


2 Robyn August 31, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Life is awesome in spite of a lot of bad things that happen to good people. I’m sorry about your dad. Sending very good thoughts your way…


3 Frédérique August 31, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Thanks for writing this blog post! I am also half-black and half-orphan (!) but, truth be told, I haven’t quite owned it yet. Cutting ties with Team Eeyore isn’t easy but your writing is a great reminder of how worthwhile that change in attitude can be. Thanks for sharing and reminding us life is awesome no matter what we live through.


4 Summer August 31, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Rachel, you are so lovely and wonderful. I can’t even begin to imagine how you feel, but I bet your father would be so unbelievably proud of you. You would not
be the same person or writer you are today without what you’ve been through. I love that you own your grief…and that you continue to be such an inspiration to all people, not just those who’ve been in your shoes.


5 Anne Bender August 31, 2010 at 9:52 pm

When people find out my kids lost their father (when they were 10, 8, & 5 respectively) they can’t believe it. They are optimistic, good students, and always laughing. A good support system makes all the difference. Bad things will happen; it’s part of life. Life is still good.


6 Sidney August 31, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I am not half anything :) and I still haven’t owned this. At least I don’t think I have. Not sure I ever will. But I am so glad that you have, and hopefully through you, I too can own it someday. Until then, I will listen to a pianist playing a song from Pirates of Penzance while rubbing a lazy Basset Hound named Beauregard. I do miss them both.
Thank you for this. xoxo


7 Lauren @ Team Giles August 31, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I’m sorry isn’t enough. I hate that your dad died. I hate that my dad died. But I love that you still think life is awesome, I do too. and thats all I have to say for now {I will not cry… I will not cry… I will not cry…}


8 Secondhand Smash August 31, 2010 at 10:41 pm

You’re amazing.


9 Libby August 31, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Both this and your very best article are incredibly moving.

I am a fellow optimist who has been through the trenches. I think people forget that goofy silly people feel grief and pain as well. Of course we do, we just don’t let it own us – we own the grief.

I’m sending good vibes your way. Thank you for your insight and generosity with your readers.


10 Bess September 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

I am a firm believer that while we can’t control what happens to us, we can control how we react to it.
Your ability to triumph over such loss is incredibly admirable. Thanks for sharing that side with us.


11 MelissaNibbles September 1, 2010 at 3:58 am

You are so strong Rachel. My thoughts are with you!


12 ashleigh September 1, 2010 at 8:29 am

Aww I am so very sorry. You are an amazing and strong woman. I love your outloook on life, and well, everything.


13 Meredith @ An Epic Change September 1, 2010 at 8:43 am

I love this. sometimes I really do just want to put up a two-handed flip of the bird and tell people “Fuck you, sometimes life IS hard.” my dad died less than 2 years ago and sometimes I am allowed to feel sorry for myself. but, at the same time, you’re right: we can’t live as a permanent pessimist. I can’t be defined by the loss of a person, but rather I should be shaped by the mark that the person had on my life.


14 Laura September 1, 2010 at 8:57 am



15 Laura Georgina September 1, 2010 at 9:00 am

There’s so much to say (and my goodness, that article is amazing)… but it’s more about the DOING–you have done so much and continue to do so much and will do so much for yourself and for others despite that loss (and probably, in some ways, because of it). He would be SO proud of his badass, caring, bolshy daughter.

My dad died almost ten years ago and I’d be lying if I said that singular fact didn’t somehow imbue and motivate every single thing I do, to this day. Not in a sad way, though–I owe him and myself that–but in a way that makes you appreciate life and take chances. He rocked it and I’m gonna rock it, too.


16 chandra September 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm

LOVE this, Rach. SO true – this is why I try to surround myself with optimistic people and always try to find the good in a situation. Yes, life is hard and it can suck sometimes, but it could be worse (and is for some people), so I’ll just be thankful for my life and health and let the BS drift away.


17 Sophie @ yumventures September 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

You are amazing, fabulous, and have the most wonderful way of spreading positive messages to the world. This post says SO much!


18 McKella September 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

No one has a right to tell someone whether their life is “hard enough”. I think some people wear their trials like a badge, “I have a right to be miserable because my life sucks. You’re life isn’t so bad.” Everyone has problems, everyone’s fighting their own battles. It really skeeves me when people pass judgement on what causes others pain. Mini-rant. I think you have a great attitude though! Keep it up!


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