Grief is individual. Its painful, and it’s raw. Its scary, and overwhelming…
Grieving the loss of someone you care about hurts. It hurts so bad that you will want to run into the middle of a busy room and shout that you are suffering, because it hurts to see the world around you keep turning while you feel this deep hole inside your body that can’t be filled…
Grief is real…and it is scary. And it’s okay to feel the way that works for you…
I’ll never forget the day my father decided to accept my invitation to move in with us.
He always had lived by himself, in a small apartment…and he was content. He was happy where he was living and had so many friends close by… but, he was sick..and living by yourself, sick… is less than ideal. It’s lonely and scary…and overwhelming to feel all the emotions of realizing your body is termanally ill by yourself.
There was a sparkle in his eyes as we loaded all his stuff…his memories… his doggy… all of the things that made him… Howard…and my Dad….. onto the trailer .. and into our home.
He laughed with my kids, and joked about how he would be up every night for dinner now (we had a two family home at the time so he lived in the other half of our home)
He promised to build forts with the kids… play hide and seek..I smiled because, he was over every single day, even when he lived in his apartment…so to me, he already did all those things with my kids 🙂 But, to see that sparkle in his tired eyes…made my heart so big. I was so confident that by being around the kids and family all the time… that, together, we could fight his esophogeal cancer.
Each morning, as I left for work, he would wave to me to come in, and sometimes, he would have a treat for me or coffee waiting. He says he never set an alarm…but I know he did because on the days I was off…he would sleep until 7 or so…and on the days I worked.. he was up before 5…. gosh do I miss him.
A few months passed.. and lots of appointments…one surgery…a feeding tube…mediciation… doctors appointments… so much happened…that I’m not sure I am ready to write down onto paper right now, because it is still, 3.5 years later… too painful….
One morning though, before I left for work.. I looked into my Dad’s window… where he was always standing… telling me to come in for a minute…But, this morning he was leaning against a cabinet…. He was in pain. More pain than I had seen him in. I gave him his medications, as I had for the last few months… hooked up his feeding tube, as I did each morning, and evening…he insisted I go to work… “I am fine dear, you go off to work…”
I had a knot in my stomach as I left that day. I knew he was getting worse. His cancer was consuming his body.
Hours later… he was in the ER. Turns out, his bowels had formed a knot and they had to operate quickly…. he came out of surgery… and they told us that his cancer had spread… and he would need hospice, end of life care…. I spent the night with my Dad in the hospital that night… and after he drifted off to sleep, the doctor told me to place him in a hospice house because he was too sick.
My father and I agreed that he would come home, and I would care for him, in our home. A hospice house wasn’t the plan all along and that wasnt going to change….
The doctors gave him a week or so… and my Dad… the strong, stubborn man he is… made it 28 days. I had 28 days with him. I think I left his side maybe a handful of times.. we laughed, and cried…we cried a lot… so many tears. So much talking and reminicing and promising to never ever forget each other…laughing about me and my sister’s childhood…and thanking him for always being there for me, and my kids…..
We had countless visitors, meals delivered…friends stopping by….I will always cherish hugging and holding onto my sister as we realized how quickly our life was about to change.
Life was busy, and scary…and I would do it all again in a heartbeat if I could.
28 days later… my Dad passed away, while holding my hand. So peaceful, and serene…and exactly what he wanted.
I remember initially, I felt so much relief.. I was so thankful he wasnt in pain anymore. I couldn’t wait to not sleep on the floor next to his bed… and not be woken up from a dead sleep to make sure he was breathing… I could not wait to not have that pesky alarm go off every few hours telling me it was time to give him his medicine.. relief that my Dad would finally, after all this time, not have to fight any longer.
After the relief lifted… I felt so much sadness. So much emptiness inside my heart. I was angry at the doctors for not getting him in sooner. Mad at the receptionist for messing up his appointment time… which made us wait another 2 weeks for his first visit. My Dad wasn’t perfect..and like anyone, he had faults. But, he loved deeply and with his whole heart. He would give anyone the shirt off his back and not think twice about it…and that is how I try to live my life. “In a world when you can be anything, be kind” ….. such wise words.
3.5 years later….and grief for me now is seeing his jacket…hanging in my closet…with his sunglasses and pen in the top pocket, just as he left it… and his mints in the other… It’s mocking his sayings to my husband, and laughing together about it until our belly hurts…
Grief is when my children ask why heaven took their grampy and holding their little bodies and staring into their confused eyes as I try my hardest to answer that difficult question correctly…
Grief is seeing this bench, as I walk into my home… and remembering it as my Dad’s coffee table, that used to hold his playing cards.. his plumber business cards…. his coffee in the morning… his beer when he drank… its seeing this bench and getting a flash of a memory of my Dad, and wishing so badly he was here still.
I wish I could say that grief gets better with time. But, for me… it hasn’t felt any better with time. I have learned how to cope with the fact that I had to loose my father, but no days or years or any amount of time will ever lessen the saddness that I feel in my heart. The saddness that takes over me that my Dad didn’t get the chance to meet Caitlyn, or Camden. Although, I do believe that he met them before us… heaven is a beautiful, beautiful place.
Grief is hard. It is overwhelming. It hurts. And everyone handles grief different. I handle mine different than you, and you will handle it different than me. But, we both hurt…and we both feel things…and it is okay to feel however you need to feel to remember and honor those you have lost.
Until we meet again, you dubba…
Your stubborn, sassy, big hearted little girl,
(This was a picture of my Dad and I at my wedding, 7.5 years ago…. during our father daughter dance, I look so proud, dont I? Because I am!)