Monica Stegall
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Butterflies

Watch over me.

Something in my imaginary world sometimes thinks about things that someone might have to go through one day, what I would do if something like this happened to me. Imagination and thoughts turned into real life circumstances. My stepdad, the man who brought me back to life when I was going down—I watched him die. He has liver cancer and knew there was not going to be a cure to bring him back to life. He took defeat. I never imagined going through something as traumatic as watching someone I truly loved with my whole heart slowly slip away from my life. Typically, step-parents are the bad guys in every Disney movie ever created. This story took a completely different turn from the typical evil parent lifestyle. 

He was the light of my life. I actually never thought I could ever find a father figure after my biological dad left. It was kind of like a dream come true during this time in my life.  He kept a secret from me. He kept it from everyone for months. His news hit me like a train, leaving me breathless and in pain. Liver cancer was spreading around his body. There has to be a cure. There has to be something we can do. He knew there was no chance of coming back from this.

So here I am telling my favorite memories with the man that will always hold such a special piece of my heart with him. 

  • Yellow butterflies are where his soul decided to take place. They flew all around him. As we would be sitting on the porch, this butterfly was always outside, as if it was waiting for the arrival of its person. He is a butterfly. Flying around me now, showing me that he is there. He is with me.
  • No matter how cold it would be outside, no matter what I was doing at that certain moment, I could hear the yelling of my name coming from the porch or the garage (depending on the day). I would come outside and a flock of geese would be flying over the house. He would point at the birds with his imaginary gun like he would be hunting (he loves hunting). I would be bundled up in the warmest clothes I could possibly find while he would be sitting in a chair in a pair of shorts and slippers. This was his favorite part of the year. When the geese would fly by, the better the days would be with him. 
  • I was at the end of my middle school years, being forced to take the bus to and from school. Coming home from school was obviously the best part of the day but also seeing the sight of him sprawled out in a lawn chair, practically falling off the chair with the water hose pouring out water while it rested on his round stomach, through the bus window. He is naturally tan but loved to get darker as the season was nice and warm, indicating that summer was right around the corner ready to greet him. Tanning oil next to his chair, country music blasting from the porch, and of course the butterfly that was always around keeping him company.
  • We had bushes of flowers in front of the porch. I love flowers and he knew I did. I liked to sit outside in the shade, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. Of course, you could find him in his usual position on the lawn with the hose and tanning oils. On random occasions, there would be flowers placed everywhere on the porch. Anywhere you could possibly find a simple flower. I have a tattoo on my collarbone scarring me of a memory I will never let go. Who knew a simple flower could last for eternity?
  • We learned the perfect combination of what to drink when we eat popcorn. Orange juice. The perfect combination of sweet and salty. Our favorite afternoon snack as we would watch Animal Planet. Laying around the whole day. Nothing could ever go wrong. 
  • He brought a yellow corvette home before I came back from school, had it parked where the bus would come and drop everyone off, honked the horn and shouted my name. He did very good showing off to all the other kids walking to their houses. He was a bad driver to begin with, but with his new purchase, it was worse. 
  • There was a never a day where he wouldn't sing or dance around. He was such a goof doing anything that could make anyone laugh. He tried to play football with high school boys, of course, trying to show off his "skills" he always claimed to have. To make a funny memory short, he tripped over his foot with the football in his arms, landed straight on his round belly, and bounced straight to his back.

Sundays, morning breakfast, TV, fire alarms going off (sometimes) because he didn't know how to cook without setting them off. Screaming at random times scaring everyone, cuddling his favorite dog, making fun of our other dog, board games, embarrassing me when a cute boy was working at McDonald's. He made everything better. 

In the end, he was turning yellow, he was throwing up, couldn't walk because it was painful. He stopped taking his medication, he started to drink more, he was trying to end it, only hurting everyone else in the end. Days were becoming shorter and shorter. Sundays turned into sick days. Animal Planet and popcorn disappeared. The man tanning out in the front no longer existed. Every day turned into movie day with me lying next to him in my mom's king size bed without little dogs even though he would be asleep during the whole movie. 

The last day I saw him was a couple days before Valentine's Day. February 19 of 2013, right at 2:30 PM, right when I would unlock my front door and walk inside the house, he passed away. I didn't say goodbye, didn't get to feel his bear hugs, didn't hear his voice one last time. I opened the door and he was gone. It seems unreal to me for a while like everything was fake and he was just playing a big prank of me. He walks in the door and is here again. I called his phone repeatedly trying to hear his voice, trying to remember what it sounded like. Tried to hold onto everything about him before everything but the memories disappeared. 

He was the best thing to ever walk into my life. He saved me and glued back the pieces that were missing in me. He made me happy and I know I made him proud. All the memories I was able to share with him are and will always be with me. I love you and miss you so much, Dave. Keep your butterflies around for me.  

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