Let’s just rip the band aid off right here- on November 7th, 2015 my Dad died unexpectedly while I was traveling in Vietnam. I can still feel that same exact pain I felt that day receiving the worst phone call of my life. If you’re reading this, and you’ve lost someone- you know that pain. Let’s just say for the lack of better words…..it fucking hurt, and it still hurts.
I had the idea to design a backpack two months before he died. But how to start was always the question. For two months I drew different designs, wrote a one page on the mission of ACE, and just kept crossing it all out because who am I kidding? I don’t have any money to do this.
When he died die, I received a small beneficiary. I had 12k to my name and this idea just waiting for me to say YES to. I thought, if i’m going to use his death money to make my dreams come true- it had to be in honor of his life.
His name is Daniel Joseph Magee. Cue The Daniel. Growing up he’d always rock pink shirts and my classmates would totally make fun of me. I didn’t care. He was so cool in my eyes. He raised me on rock and roll music. He knew everything about history. He’d always drive me around to school, my art class, or to hang out with friends. Being in the car with my Dad was always the best. He’d let me pick three CD’s to play in his collection. I remember at 11 years old, I was REALLY into Linkin Park.
I had so much anxiety using that money to build my dream come true company. 12k was all I had left of him. Every time I spent money on fabrics or product development, or web design my heart was sinking as 12k turned into 10k and 10k turned into 8k, and 8k turned into 4k, and now zero.
I swear, there has to be an afterlife somewhere because i’ve experienced moments where i’d feel so far from him but he’d show up in his own little way just to say hi. There was this one time where I was feeling so behind on ACE and I was so angry stomping around East Village like a cartoon character, swearing under my mouth. I said, “Dad, can’t you just fucking show me i’m doing something right?”
I opened the door to a bar seconds after that thought and look onto the tv screen. There he is. Detroit Rock City. Playing on tv. That was his favorite movie. Kiss was our favorite band. I was so shocked. I couldn’t move. But it was the first time since he passed where I felt everything was going to be okay, no matter what.
He always shows up when I need him. In Spain I had such a horrible day and went for a walk on my own. Someone passed by me wearing a KISS t-shirt. Or, when my sister went to Iceland to see the Northern Lights and on our last night there, while we were close to giving up…we decided to talk to our Dad and say “I believe in magic” three times before opening the door of our cabin to go outside. I swear, that moment is when I felt the universe is, indeed, fucking magic. We opened the door and look up at the sky and the green lights start dancing for us and we are just sobbing at how crazy this is. How beautiful this is. How our Dad is here with us, telling us he has always been with us.
The other day I texted my sister how much I missed our Dad, and she sends me a photo of the cross streets she just walked passed. Mallorca and Beach street. Mallorca was, in his words, “The most beautiful place he’s ever been to.” She told me he still says hi, too.
Now that i’m launched on Kickstarter, my backpack and my story out there for the world to see, using that 12k to make ACE happen doesn’t hurt anymore. I did it. I fucking DID it. I named my first backpack after him, and people are going to be wearing this backpack on all of their adventures. I can’t wait to see where you take The Daniel. All I know is, I designed this backpack to empower women to believe their wildest dreams come true. That there is magic everywhere we go.
ACE helped me get through the grief and heal my broken heart. It also gave me a backpack that works for me. A woman. It gave me new friends (hi Vanessa, Kendall, Shannon, Nicole, and Emily!) and adventures to new cities. I cannot wait to bring you all the magic this backpack has brought to me.
***Dear Diary is my little way of creating an honest, brave, vulnerable way to vent and share what’s in my heart with you. It’s more for me than you – but I do hope it helps you feel less alone in whatever it is that you’re going through in this beautiful, messed up world.