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
Who couldn’t use a little mid-day pick-me-up? Many thanks to WordPress technology for this unintentional glitch 😀
- “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: My friend Jess scored tickets to tonight’s taping, and I couldn’t be more excited for her friendship and good fortune. I also couldn’t care less about Shailene Woodley, but I’ll take it.
- SleepCycle: This handy little app came highly recommended, because I’m regularly restless and then oversleep. It tracks your movement, gauges your quality of sleep and provides a million useful stats — well worth the 99-cent price tag.
- “The Weight of Lies” – The Avett Brothers: Another gem from Pandora, I can’t get enough of this North Carolina trio’s crooning. Perfect for a rainy day, as the forecast predicts.
- Slick Rick’s Birthday: Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday and also marks six months since his death. I can’t even begin to express my range of emotions, but I plan to celebrate his life with some of his favorite things. Miss you every day, big guy.
In the five months since my dad’s death, there are many things I’ve left unsaid. Many blog posts I’ve drafted, many journal entries I’ve crafted, many people I’ve shafted.
There have been countless tears without nearly as much closure as I expected.
And isn’t that so stupid? How can I expect anything?
Sure, I’ve been to more than 20 funerals for various friends & family — but nothing prepares you for the loss of an immediate family member.
I’ve gone through many stages, sometimes simultaneously. My laughter over a fond memory bubbles up anger and resentment for not flying home more often in the three months between his diagnosis and death.
The anger continued last night, when an NBC reporter questioned Olympic skier Bode Miller about his brother’s death. Overcome with emotion, Miller was unable to finish the interview.
I was reeling over the reporter’s inability to recognize she should stop asking questions and just shut the hell up. But Miller is more gracious than I, and he understood she had no idea he would break down at that moment.
Everyone deals with grief differently … that’s no surprise. What is surprising, though, is how often people make these situations about themselves.
They don’t know how to deal with the loss. They can’t handle seeing you cry. They can’t imagine what you’re going through.
What they don’t realize is that sometimes, they don’t need to do anything — just be there for you.
I’ve held my tongue and left many things unsaid in the months since my dad died.
Part of me wants to let go of my guilt that I didn’t say enough when he was alive.
Part of me wants to lash out every time someone tries to change the subject, when I really just want to cry it out for a few minutes.
Part of me wants the words to come out, free of judgment, instead of bottling them up for fear of burdening someone else.
And all of me wants him back here just for one day, just so I can say everything I didn’t.
It’s with a heavy heart I share the following with anyone who’s reading: My dad died Friday after a brief, but badass, fight with cancer. I’ve been home in Florida since that morning and am still in disbelief at how quickly everything happened.
Instead of putting pictures to a collage this week, I’d rather you all get to know my father a bit better. He was one helluva guy who will be truly missed — especially considering an estimated 500 people attended his memorial services last night.
Read his obituary online here, and please consider donating to two of his favorite causes: the Boy Scouts of America and the Academy of Information Technology and Robotics of SCHS.
Dedicated servicemen, volunteer, Scoutmaster, father and husband … you will forever be my first superhero, Daddy.