It's been 8 years since I took a drink. That seems like a long time but the truth is, I only have today to be sober. I've just been fortunate enough to have strung enough todays together to add up to a handful of years and I really wish I could call my dad and tell him.

I took my last drink on January 12, 2013. I wish I could say that I woke up that day with a hangover and just thought to myself, "you know I don't like the way this feels anymore," but like most of us in recovery it's rarely that simple or that painless as was case for me. I won't go into detail here about the incomprehensible demoralization that changed my life but I will tell you that as traumatic and painful as it was for me, I am grateful that I came out of it with the realization that I could not continue living my life the way that I had been living it.

When I think about 8 years... 2,922 days and how far I have come, how much I have grown and changed, I know I should be really proud of myself and in a small way, I guess I am. I know how truly blessed I am to have been given a second chance to live life on life's terms and I try to not take that for granted. But in the last 8 years, I did take something for granted... time with my dad. Now, you have to understand, my dad didn't contribute to my genetic make-up and he was never even married to my mother but he came into my life when I was 14 - and he stayed. He and I made a decision to be a part of each other's lives and he stayed. Something no one else had ever really done up to that point. He was my dad and even though he did have children of his own, my brother and my sister that I love, he always considered me his daughter. I wasn't even his only "adopted" kid - I think that Dad's ability to love was his super power. Dad was an incredible and extraordinary man.

Kats First Car
Kat Mykals

I was 15 when Dad taught be how to use an angle grinder. We had taken the chrome trim off the sides of my first car, a dark green 1972 Chevelle that had 180,000 miles on it and we had to sand down the rivets that had held the trim pieces in place. When I was done, he taught me the importance of primer to protect the metal that I had just left bare. Orange primer stripes down the sides of dark green paint does not make for a very pretty car by the way but it was mine and Dad helped to teach me everything I needed to know about it. When I was 16 he taught me how to rebuild a carburetor. In my early 20s he taught me how to change my own oil. Over the years he also taught me how to do a proper burnout, the difference between posi-traction and a limited-slip differential and how to properly identify every year Chevelle between 1966 and 1972. He taught me how distinguish the rear tire of one dragster from the other just from the smell of the rubber when they did their burnouts. Dad taught me a lot about cars and he shared his love for them willingly with me, always answering my questions and always teaching me from a place of love and patience.

The most important lesson that Dad taught me was what it meant to be loved unconditionally. He was the first person to ever tell me that they were proud of me for no other reason than that I am who I am. Even when I was still drinking and even when I wasn't making the greatest life choices, Dad loved me anyway. When I got sober, I started sending Dad a text on my anniversary to let him know that I had made it another year without a drink. Every year for the last 7 years on January 12th I have texted my dad and he would tell me he was proud of me and that he loved me... but this time I can't. We lost Dad in November, just before Thanksgiving. To be honest, I've had a really hard time with it. I cry at the most random things. Sometimes I sob and crumple into a heap. The holidays were especially hard but for some reason today is harder. I just want to text Dad and tell him I made it another year and I can't. I want to call him up and hear him answer the phone with "Well, hey Hotrod!" so I can tell him what I've accomplished. I know he would be proud of me. He always was.

Just over a week before Dad passed, he was in Evansville and he called me to ask me if I had time for lunch... I am so glad that I did make the time for that. We sat together and I told him of all the things I had done in the last several months and it was so wonderful to spend that time with him. I had no idea that it would be the last time that I'd see my dad. I wish I would have made more time for him in the last 8 years. I wish I would have called more just to chat. I wish I would have made more time to hang out and tinker in the garage.  Our time here is finite and we never know when it's going to end. We never know when we'll be saying goodbye to the people who mean the most to us. While I cannot go travel back to spend more time with him, I can work every day to continue to make him proud of me, one day at a time.

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