Today is just a day to most people.
We’ve just welcomed spring. Last year, maybe the kiddos patiently awaited the Easter Bunny’s visit that upcoming weekend.
This time of year, my whole life, was strange to me. Whenever I would reflect on my year, I could never remember March, maybe even February, through May. Spring was always a blur filled with unimportant moments I would always forget. This time of year always felt transitional or imaginary, and now...
These months are impossible to forget. They’re etched in my bones. Long after I’m gone, the pain of March will still be carved in deep for everyone to see and not quite fully understand.
In the past 12 months when the veil has thinned, it would be too much for my heart. Sometimes you love to remember and sometimes reality gets too mixed up. The past 3 months have been especially difficult, feeling myself living in what feels like parallel timelines- one foot here and one foot there. In the past 2 weeks, I can’t think of anything else but living in a hospital. I can remember my bubble and I miss it. I miss the drawn out days that felt like weeks spending my last days with my dad. I miss composing the email to my professors finally admitting what I was going through, because up until then I didn’t feel I needed their extra help. I miss watching back to back Office reruns on the tiny television trying to forget where I was and that there was little hope left for a person I couldn’t bear to lose. I miss the social worker who came in and asked me what kind of person my dad was and feeling such pride in the life he built for himself as I told her.
I had to go back to Boston after spring break because I promised. I miss the last time I said goodbye and the way he had to just nod to tell me he loved me because he couldn’t speak or stay awake as his liver started to fail. I wanted so badly to remember most the weight and feel of his hands.
When I got back to school I could pretend like none of it was real. I had space from the situation. Every phone call from my mom was a stab in the heart. I never knew when it would be the one.
I miss getting the call when my dad was awake but in a dream. I hear that, “Hey, Boo,” over and over in my mind. He asked where the girls were. He was in a hurry, and it was time for us to go. And then he said, “Wait, they can’t come. They have to go to school, but I gotta go.”
I miss the slowness of the morning I found out I would never see my father again. I woke up so early, like I knew the phone would ring. I miss Tristan coming over and watching Zombieland with me, because that’s what I really needed to do. I miss the walk to my therapy session I was so grateful to have been scheduled that day. It was just warm and clear enough to not wear a jacket. Perfect clouds and crisp air. Maybe it was a little chilly for some people, but I needed the air and the hearty walk. I miss most the walk back, when one of my best friends was kind enough to escort me when Tristan couldn’t and I loved the peace I felt in my heart. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to be ok and that I wasn’t alone. That space is where my dad lives.
I’ve been dreading the year mark, I really have. The bubble of initial loss is so beautiful and frozen in time isn’t it? Heartbreak is like the one thing that shatters everything you are and opens you completely to truth. I think we think when the year comes, then in the blink of an eye, it becomes 5, 10 years and all the sudden we are so far from the person we can’t live without and that feeling we had when they left, but that’s not true. It’s fear talking to you. I think we think if we don’t feel solely the pain, we think that person starts to go away, but that’s a lie too. When I have felt my most alive, whether that be my pain, joy, or vulnerability, my dad is there reminding me that I am strong and I can do hard things. I’m brought back to the time after losing my dad where I could suddenly feel every ounce of potential that runs through my veins.
There is a pain I’m dreading now- the pain of not being able to say, “Just a year ago we...” Whatever. Fill in the blank. Were going to Disney. Being gifted a cruise trip. Fighting. Hugging. Had no IDEA what was going to happen. Now, a year ago, I was grieving. My dad doesn’t exist a year ago anymore and I can’t really tell you what that feels like yet.
I can’t remember a time of me not being extremely aware of mortality. Since I was really young, losing my family was my biggest fear, especially when it came to my dad. I always felt very protective of him. I wanted so badly for him to learn how to be happy and content. I felt like he was always worried or angry. It was a lot of pressure I put on myself. I felt he worked and spent his entire life, until the very end, fighting so hard and deserved a chance to learn to relax and enjoy life and grandkids, but not everybody gets to have that. To hear my father say that he couldn’t have been happier with the life he lived and that he wouldn’t change it, facing his own death, I realized I had to let that feeling of unfairness go. A full life means something so different to me now. My dad died under 50, and even though he had a lot of adversity and mental struggle throughout his life, he was still so grateful for the days he got to live. He accomplished so much, and wherever I’m going, it’s because of what both my parents have taught me and how they’ve supported me. I’m an extension of my father’s life, and healing has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I know I’m going in the right direction of creating a rich life story with building blocks my dad has left me.