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Two years ago, at this time, I was sitting on my mom’s couch when I got a text saying that things were taking an unexpected turn for my dad, but not to be worried. I instantly got this awful gut feeling that I needed to get to the hospital. My mom kept telling me to just wait and see how things went, and if something was wrong someone would message me, and then I could go. But I didn’t want to wait. Something kept telling me that I needed to get there. The rain was pouring and I had broken my glasses. My mom didn’t want me driving to Charleston blind, but I refused to stay home. I still remember that drive. I couldn’t see at all. The rain was beating down and my mom was following me shortly behind. I turned on K-Love, hoping God could give me a word of encouragement. The song “Home” by Chris Daughtry came on the radio. I knew what the words were telling me, and I begged God to not let this be it. I still remember the smell of the waiting room. I remember every corner and how the seats felt. I waited for what seemed like days in that room, yet when I’d look at the time I would be shocked to see that three hours had passed. I don’t even remember falling asleep. The last thing I remembered was my mom running to get everyone coffee. But, next thing I knew, I was being woke up at 4 in the morning. They said the doctor wanted to talk to the family. We all walked back into this tiny conference room and we knew something had to be wrong, but we waited for that sign of hope across the doctor’s face. That never came. Instead we got a “I’m sorry. We’ve done everything we could do. The only thing keeping him here is the medicine we have him on.” We didn’t want to believe it. How? How could there be nothing left to do? We needed him. He needed to be here. This wasn’t supposed to happen. How could this be the next step? How could this be it? I had so much I wanted to share with him. I had memories left to create. I had a baby growing in my stomach that he knew nothing about. I needed him. I dreamed of the day to see him chewing on my son’s cheeks and seeing him smile. We all walked out of that room, into his. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I couldn’t get myself to get a single word out. I had so much in my head that I just wanted to pour out to him, but I couldn’t. Time seemed to stand still. Yet, when I looked up at the clock, it was already 7 in the morning. Fifteen minutes later and his soul would be above us. My mom had the privilege of telling him that he was going to be a grandpa. I know he couldn’t hear her, but I really hope he knew somehow. As the seconds dwindled down, I held tight to my stomach telling myself that "I live for the both of you now." That I live to make him proud and to make my son happy. That I’d do everything in my power to always do the right thing. Man, I hope I’m making him proud. I begged God for 9 days to give him a healing. And he did. Just not how I thought. I prayed and believed that he’d walk again. I put such faith in it. And he is. Just not where I thought he’d be. I know he wouldn’t have been happy being in the state he was, but he would’ve had the biggest support team to help him through it. I hope he realized just how many people adored and loved him. I had my eyes opened on how proud I am to be named a Bryant. The number of people who reached out to me from all over the world telling me kind words of my father was endless. My favorite was the countless times people told me how he never stopped talking about his kids. I’m thankful and blessed to call him my father. I just wish we would have had more time. I would’ve made all the wasted seconds count. Even in the hospital, I still just let the seconds slip away from me. I took every single one for granted. I hope my presence was enough to let him know how much I love him. I just wish I would have been bolder in my role as his daughter. I wish I would have showed my appreciation more. I hope he knew.
I keep waiting for this to get easier and I honestly don’t think it ever will. Especially this past week leading up to this day. Everything seems to slip away, even before I realize what day it is. My mind starts going crazy before I realize why. Then I see the date and it hits me all over again. I still can’t stand the sound of hospitals. They echo in my head and beat in my chest. I hate thinking about all the what-ifs. I wish I would’ve known somehow. I wish all of this was just a dream warning me of this mess so I could stop it all from happening. I keep waiting for this to get easier, but I don’t think I want it to. It getting easier means me getting used to his presence not being here. I don’t ever want to be so comfortable in him being gone that I can go a day without thinking about him. No. I don’t want it to get easier. I want to keep his memory alive. I want to show my son every day the little things that he showed me. I want him to know his papa and all of our little inside jokes and our favorite places to go. I just really want to make him proud. If I can do anything in this world, that's what I want.
I can’t wait for the day I hear his voice yell “Nikki” and I run and jump into his arms.
Man, I can’t wait for that day.
I’ll see ya in a minute, Daddy
I love you.