As you already know, my family has been at the forefront of my mind while Hurricane Irma whipped her way across the state. On top of that, September brings a slew of family birthdays (we’re already through three of the five!), and today itself marks four years since my dad’s death. Oh, and I’m due to be back in Florida next week to celebrate a friend’s birthday and cancer-free diagnosis with a cruise around the Keys and Cozumel.
Shall I state the obvious? My emotions are on overdrive. I’m exhausted, while ever-grateful for the people who’ve shown constant love, support and thoughtfulness. Particularly today, as I think about the four years we’ve had without my dad, I am humbled by outreach from others.
I don’t always post or share how I’m feeling about that loss. It’s not because I’ve forgotten or because I’m “over it” or because I’m not hurting. Quite the opposite. I think about him multiple times a day and fear I’ll always be hurting. And oh, how I hate people to feel sorry for me.
Just this morning, I struggled with the way someone responded to my mom’s sentiments about my dad. We’re told there’s nothing wrong you can say when someone is grieving, but in the past four years, I’ve learned there are absolutely insensitive and thoughtless comments, which turn my grief into anger and take my energy away from what’s important.
And what’s important, to me, is reflecting on the many years we had him here. Looking back through our shared emails, texts and Facebook posts. Doing what Slick Rick loved to do: Cracking open a cold beer and watching The Weather Channel (because he loved it, with or without a hurricane to track). Listening to golden oldies and complaining about kids today. Typing in ALL CAPS and caring for others any way I can.
This beer and post are for you, Big Guy. I hope you’re getting a kick out of watching over us each day.
Images courtesy of family archives
Can you believe it? 5 years ago, I started this blog with a few posts in mind… and no idea where to go from there.
Things have changed a lot since then.
For example, I:
- Started Weekly Obsessions, which have now had more than 220 posts
- Picked up & moved from Florida to New York City
- Made blogger connections & started following so many talented writers
- Decided I love moving & relocated again, this time from NYC to San Francisco
- Shared my greatest successes & deepest disappointments
Most importantly, this is all in large part thanks to reader like YOU! I’m consistently reminded through your views, shares, likes & comments that I’m fortunate to have a fantastic support system.
I’ve stumbled along the way, but I’ve grown & learned a lot, too.
From the bottom of my little Witty heart, thank you for being part of the journey. Here’s to many more milestones together!
Just for funsies: What was your favorite Wittyburg post?
Since my dad’s death in September 2013, plenty of tears, questions and confusion has poured out of me. This wasn’t my first big loss in life, but it has absolutely hit the hardest. Yesterday, for example, wasn’t just Father’s Day — it was also my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary — and it was brutal.
I’ve read eons of articles about coping with grief, learning how to get by, and the like. I’ve had nightmares about all the milestones my dad will miss, including career successes, a walk down the aisle, starting a family, my own anniversaries, and so on. I’ve felt a gamut of emotions, ranging from anger to emptiness.
It wasn’t until earlier this month, when I read Sheryl Sandberg’s essay about the loss of her husband, that a new feeling emerged: hope.
In it, Sandberg explains the lessons she’s learned in the 30 days since her husband’s death. The emotions. The questions. The confusion. I read through blurry eyes with tear-stained cheeks and big, ugly sobs. This passage, in particular, spoke to me:
“I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was ‘It is going to be okay.’ That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me. Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, ‘You and your children will find happiness again,’ my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, ‘You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good’ comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple ‘How are you?’—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with ‘How are you today?’ When I am asked ‘How are you?’ I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear ‘How are you today?’ I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.”
I highly recommend you take some time to read the entire essay — even if you haven’t dealt directly with grief, Sandberg provides excellent context for helping others deal with death.
Since September 2013, I’ve actively said that we as humans are not well-equipped to deal with loss. There is no manual, but Sandberg’s words are certainly a start.
After a whirlwind week in New York, suffice it to say I am le tired. For example, I actually thought yesterday was Friday. So close! Yet so, so far.
- Amanda’s Burgers: My return to the SF office was punctuated by my team’s creativity in crafting a full-on burger stand at my desk. Back story: One of the guys calls me “The Burg” or “The Burger.” That’s really all you need to know — well that, and that it’s Yelp official.
- Orange Is the New Black: OK, so I didn’t actually enjoy this book but it took me so damn long to finish, I have to recognize myself for it. The true story of Piper Kerman’s year in a women’s prison is eye-opening … I just kind of hated her writing style and schizophrenic stories.
- 200th WO: I can’t quite believe it, but these little Weekly Obsessions turn TWO HUNDRED this week. Holy crapballs, y’all. Thanks to each of you for your continued support and making this blog a creative outlet — it’s something I truly cherish.
- “Love Shack” – The B-52s: Your what?! Tin roof, rusted. There is potentially no greater song to bring people together of all ages, as I witnessed at my friend’s wedding last weekend. Groovy, baby.
This is serious bizness, you guys. I’m so thrilled to celebrate the 150th post of Weekly Obsessions!
It’s the most committed relationship I’ve ever had, and it wouldn’t be in my life if it weren’t for you lovely readers.
Thanks for sticking with me through all the weird, wild and wonderful obsessions — you make me proud of this little ol’ blog each and every week.
Cheers to many more!
Inspired by the #tbt trend on Instagram, this new series will revisit an old favorite from years past on a (hopefully) weekly basis. You’re welcome.
This week’s throwback is a straight-up repost from a (now defunct) blog I kept during my high school and early college years.
I wrote this eight years ago, and I remember crying my eyes out as I tapped away in the library. It’s eerie looking back at my writing style and most personal thoughts, but I hope it’ll give you some insight to my childhood — and how Dad’s cancer diagnosis this year made our family even stronger:
Have you ever had something change the rest of your life forever? I mean, it honestly affected every single day for the rest of your life?
I’ve got to stop blaming him for his memory loss, for never throwing a ball with me or shooting hoops. I’ve got to forgive him for not knowing who I was when Adam and I visited him every afternoon in the hospital. I’ve got to let go of the fact that he will never be the daddy I once knew, the one that smiled a lot and even joked back with us.
It’s not his fault that it happened. It’s not God’s fault either. It’s time for me to grow up already, and forget about pushing the blame on someone or something.
No one could have predicted that my mom would roll over one morning and find him, lifeless and forever changed. No one could have accounted for causing him to walk with a limp, to be paralyzed on one side, and to have a bitter, pessimistic outlook on life.
Ten years of blaming, hating and accusing has gotten us nowhere. I feel selfish for assuming that he would have recovered, no problem. He shouldn’t be broken. He should be better. But it’s out of our control and he needs me to know [sic] that I accept him.
I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to come to this realization. And yet, I already feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my heart and my mind.
Appreciate your loved ones, for you never know — one day, they may disappear forever
2013 update: My dad remains one of the most resilient men I’ve ever met. His strength is awe-inspiring, and I’m thankful every day for how much our relationship has grown in the past few years.
My parents spent their 33rd anniversary at the hospital this June. Dad’s receiving treatments at a rehab center on this, the 18th anniversary of his stroke. I love you, Slick Rick … keep fighting the good fight!
Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s death. I was in Ireland (her homeland) when the cancer won. I still struggle with the difficult decision I made to stay abroad and miss her memorial services.
It’s been more than a thousand days since, but it breaks my heart every time I think about that choice.
So, here’s a dedication to my mom’s mom: A woman so fiercely sharp and sassy, she put most to shame.
- A Margarita (on the rocks, no salt): Her signature drink; I’ll never indulge in a margarita without thinking of my Grammy. As any wondrous woman should, she ordered them exactly the same way for years. Cheers!
- Cruising: Married for more than 50 years, my grandparents sure knew how to vacation. Their travels took them many places, and we were blessed to come along at times. Our Bahamas trip the summer I graduated high school was far and away my favorite
- Girls’ Night: My mom and grandma spent a lot of quality time together, and I relished any chance to join them. From bingo nights to “AP conferences” (secret beach getaways), so much of my life is defined by those memories.
- White Elephant Gift Exchange: Our family tradition carries on every Christmas Eve, but it’s not quite the same. I won magnets, which I fastened into hair clips, two years in a row — and I’ve never treasured silly Dollar Store gifts more.
My grandpa used to sing her this. We love you, Peggy.