For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been the happy girl. There has rarely ever been a day when I didn’t try to make someone else happy or spread a little joy around. But when my world completely shattered, that girl just didn’t exist anymore. I had dealt with tough situations before so I thought I knew what I was up against when I lost my Dad. But nothing could have ever prepared me for how much of myself I would lose. Once the funeral was over and my family left, I waited for things to go back to normal and for the hole in my heart to heal. But it didn’t. Instead I was a completely different person. The happiness I had felt before didn’t come back, and I was more miserable than I had ever been before. Somehow I still put a smile on my face anyway, even though it wasn’t a genuine one. What that was a mask that I learned how to wear extremely well. And soon, that mask became my best friend. I wore it whenever I was out because I was only half there. I wanted to laugh and smile when I was with a huge group of people but I just didn’t have it in me. It felt like I had become a shell of the person I used to be and it wasn’t getting any better. Instead of seeing my friends I holed myself up in my home. I didn’t feel like going out on the weekends so I didn’t. And even eating became difficult because I was never hungry. Every morning I didn’t feel like getting out of bed so I stayed under the covers for hours. And I never used to cry, but now that was my new normal. At any given moment I felt like I would burst into tears and not the pretty kind. Instead, it was gut wrenching sobs I buried into my pillows so my neighbors wouldn’t hear me along with full body tremors that left me feeling weak and delirious afterwards. And what bothered me the most was I couldn’t do anything about it. I remembered what it was like to be happy, I knew how to do it, but I just didn’t feel like it. I had no energy to pull myself out of this funk I was in so I stayed miserable. And I knew I should be talking about what I was going through too but I didn’t want to bother anyone so I stayed quiet. And by doing that, I forgot how to live. Then one day I had had just about enough of being depressed, angry and emotional all the time. I missed the feeling of being alive and I realized the only person holding me back from that was me. I had to take a step back to see that I would never be the same person I was before I lost my Dad, and that was okay. Losing someone changes you in so many ways that there is no way you can get back to your old normal. But you can pick yourself up and begin again. And once I realized that, everything changed. Once I stopped trying to make myself be my old self again I learned how to live with who I am now. Bit by bit, I started really laughing again instead of faking it. I started wanting to do things again instead of staying in bed. And I found things that made me happy again. It didn’t happen over night, but now I don’t feel like breaking down at any given moment. I still have times where missing my Dad completely breaks me but it’s not consuming me anymore. Instead I’ve learned that you can live with the sadness as long as you remember to live too.