I have taken some time away. Time away from family, my sisters, my realities. I needed to detach in order to find some normal again.
My father left this earth suddenly, completely unexpectedly and tragically two and a half months ago. I am thirty-nine years old; I still feel as though I am far too young to bury my Dad. I haven’t been able to listen to a lot of music, or watch certain shows. I have to turn my mind off at least fifteen times a day to stifle the tears that want to reach my cheeks. I have been angry, confused, bitter, and I have visited denial as often as weekly. I forget. For the most brief of moments, I actually forget that he’s gone. Then, like a punch to the gut, it comes rushing back like a freight train and hits me. Hits me hard. I can’t talk about him without tears yet; I can barely write about him without tears. I watch the dates on the calendar pass knowing that each day is one day further from the last time I spoke to him. One day further from his last breath.
Time is supposed to be healing, not a reminder of distance and pain endured. Right? Wrong. Time doesn’t heal. Time just passes, days become weeks, weeks turn into years. Eventually it will hurt less, the sting will dull, and time will once again be a source of help not hindrance.
I want to share funny stories, little things that remind me of happy times and the life he lived as opposed to the life he left. Doing so is far more difficult than I could have ever anticipated. Time. In time I know this will come to me; I am confidant that eventually sharing the life he lived will be an honor to me and not a source of heartache.
I’ve read about the first year following a significant loss being brutal. I have friends and family members that I’ve watched go through the loss of a parent or spouse, and I feel just terrible that I didn’t realize the difficulty that each day brought to them. The pain in their heart, the sadness filling their soul.
How tragic is it that only through death are we able to sometimes see the significance one has in our lives? We muddle through each day not responding to a text, not taking a phone call because we’re busy, preoccupied or just not in the mood. Death waits for no one. It gives no warning, no explanation, no reasoning. It takes what it wants, when it wants it, and certainly doesn’t care about your busy life, your petty concerns, or your moods. Death shows up when you’re least expecting it. It challenges your every fiber, encapsulates your existence, and shows you what you have to lose.
Then life, it’s right there. Staring at you, taunting you, showing you that you must be present. Life waits for no one. You must either choose to engage, to show up, or to let it slip by and miss all the wonders it has to offer.
I was ready for a moment to allow life to let me go, to let me release from its clutches and allow me to drift to the darkness of my own private misery. My Dad would hate that I feel this way, he would tell me to pick myself up, dust myself off, put my shoulders back, stand tall, and get out there and live. My Dad lived. Every moment of his life, he lived. He made his own rulebook and devised his own plays. He loved, he hated, he forgave, he engaged. He wouldn’t want to see me allow his death to sculpt my future.
I am now beginning to accept the mistakes I made, even beginning to say them aloud for myself to hear. I can feel myself coming up for air, cresting the surface of my life, and deciding to participate. I am making myself a promise to find happiness in something each day, to see the beauty in the world around me, to be present in life.
Because a wise man once told me that today is the first day of the rest of my life.
[Photo credit to Heather]
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