Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Dear Dad

Dear Dad;
I am missing you big time today. So many people have told me that grief comes in waves. If that’s true, today’s waves were the kind that take you down with them, swoop you under the water so that you can barely breathe. It would have been a Red Flag warning on the beach in Fort Walton, for sure. As I sat in my cancer committee meeting I thought of you, and got this pang in my chest of missing you. After I saw the memorial for Laurence I so badly wanted to call you to tell you about it. As I sat in a talk on fighting for cancer treatment fairness I thought of you and your fight, and how I wish you could be sitting next to me in those types of talks. I also had a deep desire to know if I am making you proud. I just want to hear you say those words again. Then, I got a phone call from one of the hospital staff that I work with and he said “I sent you a note...” that’s what you used to say! You always said note in reference to an email or a text. I found myself starting to tear up just hearing the word note! When I got to my workout class I tried to see if I had any old voicemails from you just so I could hear your voice again, talking to me. I don’t. I do have the last text you ever sent me, which is your response to me saying “love you”. Your answer was “right back atcha”.

I just miss you, dad. I miss your hugs and encouragement, I even miss your silly jokes and puns. I miss telling you about my day, making you dinner, taking you to church. Maureen recently said that she finds herself wanting to tell everyone about you. I didn’t realize it until she said it, but Ive been doing the same thing. It’s important for me to tell your story. I want people to know what a wonderful dad and human you were. You were truly the greatest.

I have recently found myself having a very deep desire for connecting to others. Finding common ground. I’m not sure if it’s from your influence, or feeling something missing in my life, but I have been wanting to find and connect with people like I never had before. You were such a natural at that. I’m not so natural. But I’m trying.

I mentioned earlier that I want to make you proud. I want to be as kind and fair as you were. I want to make people feel as welcomed and loved as you made them feel. I want to fight hard because you fight like hell. I want to stand tall, breathe in your confidence and compassion and put it back into the world.

I know there will be more days like this, where I’ll miss you so much it hurts. And I know you’re here with me, but that doesn’t always take away the hurt. So I will carry your spirit with me as best I can and be ever so grateful that I was lucky enough to have you as a dad.

Love you.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Get some Sleep

Last night, as I started to head up the stairs of my sister's house to go to sleep, I heard myself yell "goodnight, get some sleep!" to the dog.

I told a dog to get some sleep.

He's a dog.

He sleeps on and off all day.

I started to wonder why I said that. I must need some sleep. I'm loopy.


It's the exact sentiment I used to say to my dad when I would stay at their house when he was in hospice. I would pray with him or give him his medicine or give him some yogurt, and then tiredly march up the stairs and say "get some sleep", knowing it would only be a few hours until one of us checked on him again.

It is the moments like that where the grief overcomes me. Where my heart begins to ache again. Where I remember that he is missing.

And those are the moments that I hate. But I have learned from my grief group that they are inevitable and that they are healing, as hurtful as they can be. So I soak up those moments. I use it as time to think about my dad, to be grateful for my dad, to talk to him. I know he’s listening to me and that he is here with me. In the craziness and busyness of life, it’s rare I get moments of silence to reflect. So perhaps these painful moments are actually little nudges.

Grief is similar to the cancer itself in that it is uncontrollable and unpredictable. There is no set path, checklist, or map. Grief is messy. It is surprising and it is lonely. It is an invisible load I carry with me daily. It is a balance beam. It comes at you fast and engulfs you, before you get a chance to catch your breath. Grief is giving me a thirst for faith, a longing for empathy, a cry for compassion. My grief wants to be seen and yet hidden. Grief is painful. But with all of these, comes gratitude. I know that the pain I feel is a representation of how deeply I loved my dad, and the very important role he played in our family. I am mighty lucky to have someone like him to miss.

Get some sleep, dad, for I am sure your duties in Heaven are exhausting. I love you and miss you so much.