The First Time I Died

Phoebe Leona
5 min readAug 23, 2021

How Death Found a Way For Me to Live & Be Free

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The first time I died was in high school when I decided to leave my dad after one too many of his relapses. He was my primary caretaker after my parents split up when I was eight years old. In this ordinary world, it seemed odd for a little girl to stay living with her dad back then in the ’80s. In the non-ordinary world, it was our karma, our souls’ contract with each other.

I was his guardian too in many ways. I somehow anchored him and gave him something to care for when he didn’t care enough about himself. I read years later after he died when I found his medical records that sat in his vault, which documented that one night he held a gun to his head and heard his baby girl crying in the next room. He put his gun away and came to see me.

That was our unspoken contract, to keep him alive for all those 14 years of my life until I decided to leave when I broke it. I had to break free from the rage, the abandonment, the instability, and the darkness that hung over our home.

It was a rainy night when I called my mom to pick up what was left of my life and take me away from home. Dad had not been there for several nights. As we packed up her car with all of my childhood memories, Dad came back just in time to witness us and stared into space as we walked by him each time with a box or a bag of my belongings, like he knew this moment had to come. His eyes were bloodshot and vacant, probably still high, and his soul was no longer in that body from all the abuse; it had recoiled to hide somewhere else. Mom went to the car to leave me to say goodbye to him for what I thought would be forever. His body walked me to the door. I felt lost. There was a huge piece of me that was dying right in front of us both- this piece that always believed he would get better and would be my daddy again and that piece of me that was giving up on being so loyal to him. I went to hug him. He pushed my little body out the door and slammed it shut. There I was, all alone in the rain. I walked to my mom’s car, got in, closed the door, and I wept, sobbed, shook uncontrollably, and then I died right there. I died to everything I knew to be true in my 14 years on earth. I did not know what was ahead for me, but I knew something was dead. I thought it would be him shortly after I left, but it took…

Phoebe Leona

Author, retreat leader, embodiment guide. I help people feel they belong. Next nOMad retreat in Mexico: