Yesterday makes three weeks since I lost my dad.
There are times it feels like forever ago and other times – like today – when it feels like it was yesterday.
11:25am “LITERAL 911! CALL ME NOW!”
I’ll never forget seeing that text from my wife and the subsequent phone call. “I don’t know how to tell you this. Joey told me to stay calm,” she said.
Today I had an early lunch – 11:30am – and I drove the same route I took at the same time three weeks ago, only this time slower and for different reasons.
People keep asking me how I’m doing.
That’s a difficult question to answer, honestly.
Most of the time I’m fine. Good even. Watching football, hanging out with the kids, visiting family, playing Cookie Jam with my wife. It feels good to remember that I’m still able to smile. Life is very similar to what it was three weeks ago, except that…it’s not.
Other times, I’m not so good. Bad even. I know it sounds stupid, but it makes me mad that I was so out of shape when I saw him last. It just bothers me. And today it’s bothering me that I can’t remember our small talk from the last day I saw him. It was Halloween. My wife and step-mom took the kids out trick-or-treating for a little while and he and I stayed back to make pizzas for dinner. I do remember that we hugged and said we loved each other when I left that night. That’s important.
I also remember him giving me crap at one point because I knew someone who came to his door trick-or-treating. It seemed like whenever we went out together, even when I was a kid, I knew somebody. Whether it was a friend from school or their parents, he’d always tease me about it. “I suppose you knew them, too, huh?” he’d say. What’s hilarious about this, in retrospect, is that I inherited that trait from HIM! HE’s the one who knew everybody! So, on Halloween, when I answered the doorbell and saw a former co-worker of mine with her daughter, I said hello like you do to an old friend. As I closed the door, my dad said from the dining room table, “I supposed you knew them, too, huh?” I sheepishly said yes and we both smiled.
I’ll always have that, right?
I’m also finding that my brain seems to have a special way of hijacking my thoughts lately and making them end-up on him.
For instance, my son is making duct tape bookmarks for his school bizarre at the end of this week. I was thinking about that and how hard he’s been working on them and I thought, “I wonder if he made one for me?” which led to, “We need to do more fun things together,” which led to, “Maybe I’ll take him fishing in the spring,” which led to, “But, my dad won’t be there.”
And then I got sad.
I know it’ll be that way for a long time, though, if not forever. It’s something I’ll have to get used to, or at least learn how to deal with.
As I’m reading through this, I’m thinking to myself, “Why am I posting this?” There are a number of reasons, really. It’s helpful for me to share my process. Many of you have reached out and asked me how I’m doing and I think this is a good way to keep you updated. If you’re a stickler for this blog being all about “things one-handed,” then…I’m grieving one-handed. And perhaps most importantly to me, I think it could help others who have already or are currently or will some day go through this same experience. Sadly, the numbers bear this out.
This is a unique experience. I don’t wish it on anyone. I cried a bunch yesterday and today. But, I’ll keep sharing, not only for me and my family, but for the thousands of others who I know will relate. So none of us feel alone. Thank you for affording me the opportunity.
Ryan: I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my mom to cancer suddenly 4 months ago (I just had to count on my fingers how many months it had been – sometimes it feels like just last week). I wish there were something that I could do for your grieving. It just sucks. Monday after work I had a complete meltdown – just out of the blue. I miss my mom and I know nothing I can do can bring her back.
I know my circumstances are a bit different from yours, but this is true. We are both hurting. Take some time, cherish the memories and know that it is ok to be pissed, mad, heartbroken, sad along with being happy knowing you were raised by a man that you loved dearly.
I debated a bit as to whether I should just give the standard “praying” response, or to say something more. Really, who am I to tell anyone else dealing with grief anything at all? Everyone who loses a loved one has lost their own loved one and is walking in their own pain. However, sometimes it is just good to know that you aren’t the only one who isn’t perfectly happy today, or the only one struggling with loss at the moment, too. Those things hurt. There really isn’t a big enough word to describe it. Losing someone you love is like having a chunk of yourself torn away. It takes time to come to grips with the new normal. Please, be patient with yourself and go ahead and keep saying the things that you need to say; bringing up the memories and struggles that you need to. You are showing your children how to grieve and giving them permission to grieve when they need to. Yes, grief does last a long time and sometimes forever. It doesn’t stay raw and painful and immediate, though. The edges soften and the love and better memories win out over the pain, slowly. So slowly. Also, I really am praying for you.