When someone’s with you, it’s hard to believe there’s a day when you’ll never see them again.
That pictures and saved voicemails will be the only tangible connection.
A year ago today my dad died. He was only 62 years ago; his mom outlived him. The pain of that reality is palpable to all of us.
Many days I can go on with life. But others, it’s a struggle.
I’ve talked to so many who have lost a parent earlier than anticipated. Not that it’s easy at any age, but there is comfort when someone lives to 80 or 90 years old; that they’ve lived a complete life, saw their family grow and now they are ready.
There seems to be a different heartache for those who lose parents earlier, whether they’re just children or like me, into my 30s.
There’s personal devastation, knowing that you’ll never talk to your parent again. That you’ll never get advice (whether you ask for it or not!), that they’ll be there for family dinners and holidays, to babysit, or to meet up for lunch.
And, there’s the reality that your kids won’t know their grandfather or grandmother. In my case, that our now three-year old will never know his grandpa, and our seven-year old will only have a handful of memories as she grows up.
As much as we’ll work to keep his memory alive, that part really stings.
Being part of this “club” is certainly one I never anticipated. While I always told my dad that he better take care of himself because I wanted him to see his grandkids grow up, I never thought he’d leave us this soon.
Our dad died about two weeks after going to the hospital for gall bladder surgery.
We went to his house after he died and there was a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee half-full right next to his recliner. He was having intense pains, drove himself to the hospital, learned about the gall bladder. In his immaculate home, he obviously never thought he wouldn’t be the one to clean up that coffee.
I still see that cup, a reminder about how quickly life can change, and how you can never anticipate what will come next.
In our dad’s case, the gall bladder surgery revealed other issues (he already had diabetes and had previously had a major heart surgery).
Life is fleeting. We can get so caught up in our daily lives, in trivial happenings, in gossip or things that ultimately don’t matter.
Let that crap go. It’s not worth holding onto things that hurt your heart or don’t nourish your soul.
We never know how long we — or the ones we love — have on this earth.
In two weeks we’ll celebrate my dad’s birthday. This month is not going to be easy but we’re choosing each year on Dec. 21 to celebrate my dad as a family (plus, what kid would refuse an opportunity for cake?!) and my bro and I, each in different cities, will go see an action-packed movie in my dad’s honor. He surely would be doing that.
I give myself permission today, and any day, to cry and let out the pain and remember the good. I take time to grieve, to talk to my counselor about my anger and sadness, and also reflect on the fun times and great advice he shared. I take time to be honest about my pain and why even though I truly believe things happen for a reason, there could never be a justifiable reason to lose my dad. For anyone to lose anyone before they’ve lived a full life. Before we get to life a full life with them.
I know it will be OK. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck like hell.
(image taken seven years ago when I was pregnant with sarah) 🙂