When you’re a kid, your parents read fairytales to you, and you can't help but dream that one day your life will be just as magical as Cinderella's and her prince. My favorite fairytale, however, was not written in a book; it was real, and it was one that I always wished I could experience. My favorite fairytale took place at the Jersey Shore and started with a free drink between two lifeguards. The prince, Jeff, worked as a lifeguard during the day and bartended at night. The princess, Amy, was also a lifeguard during the day and was just a typical 20-year-old at night. They met at a bar when Jeff served Amy a free drink (which he later got in trouble for). It was worth it, though, because that free drink was the start of something amazing for both Jeff and Amy.
Six months later, the two of them did the unthinkable: they got married. Amy was only 21, and Jeff was 24. People bet that their marriage wouldn't last, but they proved everyone wrong. At 28, Amy had her first daughter, Sarah (me), and soon after, two more kids came into our world, Katie and Andrew. There's nothing better than hearing people tell you that your parents are the most perfect couple ever, and I was fortunate enough to hear that weekly. People envied their relationship and how happy my siblings and I were. I truly felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Growing up, my father worked as a pilot. My mom stayed home with us all the time, and to be honest, I never truly appreciated that until after everything happened. Sometimes, my dad would be gone for months. We would Skype with him everyday, and he would call us every morning, no matter what the time was at his destination. I remember certain people trying to get my mom to think that my dad could be cheating on her in a different country, but that thought never bothered us. The thought of that actually being true was just so absurd. My dad loved us more than anything; it was just a fact. Plain and simple.
Certain things about Jeff were hysterical, like his specialty dinner, Manwiches, which my mother detested. He would fart and then blame it on the dog, every single time. My gay uncle thought Jeff was the hunkiest man, which my dad took as a compliment. Every time he was in the room, it was bound to be a good time. He treated all my friends like they were his own kids, always greeting them with a giant bear hug. Everyone who met my dad loved him. I know that sounds cliché, but I honestly don't know one person who didn't like him. My dad never yelled, never got angry, and always made us feel loved (especially after I got my first F on a paper). I remember the time I had my first party and got caught with a handle of Bankers Club vodka. Instead of getting mad at me for that, my parents laughed and made fun of me for drinking the world’s worst vodka. That's what our family did, and that's what my dad did: we had our problems, we had our fights, but we worked through them and always ended up laughing in the end.
Looking back, I often find myself remembering that my parents never got mad at each other. I have no clue how they did it, but they never were mean to each other. If there ever was yelling in our house, it was my sister and I fighting over clothes. Every year for my dad's birthday, he always wanted the same thing: spaghetti and meatballs. My father was perfectly content eating spaghetti, playing guitar, and watching “Little House on the Prairie” on a Saturday night. His favorite bands were Weezer, Green Day, the Dixie Chicks, and The Eagles. Simply put, my dad was the man. So I always ask myself, how could such an incredible guy get taken off this Earth so soon? What sense does that make?