Monday, February 1, 2016

hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams

these song lyrics were printed in my dad's memorial program, and i read them to myself at least once a day:

"hold me in your thoughts
take me to your dreams
touch me as i fall into view

when the winter comes
keep the fires lit
and i will be right next to you"

-warren zevon

today marks 6 months since my dad died. i realized i haven't written any posts specifically about my grief journey, so today i thought i would - mostly for my own sake. 6 months, already? time is a crazy thing, grief is a crazy thing. losing my dad has truly changed the way i look at life and i have learned a lot along the way. 

- i've learned that i am stronger than i ever imagined i could be. but if i'm totally honest, i've felt guilty at times that i haven't been sad "enough". (whatever that means). i should let this guilt go, because everyone grieves in their own way and there is no right or wrong way. life didn't stop for me after his passing. i didn't have any days where i laid in bed all day too sad to get up, i never turned down plans because i didn't feel like being around people, i never felt resentment towards strangers who were outwardly happy in public. but part of me still kept thinking aren't those the things people do when they lose someone they love? a natural reaction to the fact that their death has turned your life upside down and you will never be the same without them? at least in the beginning? 

- perhaps it's the fact that i have small children who depend on me every minute or i can thank my dad for teaching me the very same coping skills that i've been using over the last 6 months (to take things one day at a time), or it could be that i had almost 3 years to pre-grieve, but i've felt mostly at peace for the last 6 months. i hope that he would be proud of the way i have handled this experience.  

- which brings me to the question, is it better to watch your loved one die slowly or to have them taken from you with no warning? during my dad's final week i was absolutely convinced the second option would be better, the whole thing felt absolutely torturous. but looking back now, i'm so thankful for the time i had to mentally prepare, to tell him how much he means to me. even when you know it's coming, you are never fully prepared for the moment one of your parents is gone forever. 

- though life has kept going per usual, i definitely have hard days where i cry, sometimes multiple times. he is the first thing i think about when i wake up in the morning, the last thing i think about when i go to sleep at night and dozens of times in between. he is always on my mind. 

- looking at pictures and videos of him can send me into a puddle of tears, but also make me feel happy and close to him. i feel so grateful for all of those memories. sometimes when i see pictures of him big and strong, i still can't believe the last 6 months (or the last 3 years, for that matter) even happened. big and strong is how i'll always remember him. thankfully my memories of how he looked at the end have slowly faded and the ones of him looking healthy have taken precedent. that was a big worry of mine, that i would only remember him at his sickest. listening to music that reminds me of him brings me comfort as well.

 - i'm so thankful that he lives on in my kids and all of the life lessons he taught me. i do my best every day to love my kids the way he loved me. 

- he visits me in my dreams quite often. in fact, i've never dreamed about some one or something with such frequency. the dreams are very vivid and feel so real (especially when he hugs me). i wake up feeling so happy after having them. he always references having cancer in some part of each dream, but he looks and acts perfectly healthy. and i think that is symbolic. 

- i miss so many things about him. the way he always cared so much about everything happening in my life, no matter how big or small, and always showed it. i miss his sense of humor, and exchanging glances and a smirk with him when some one in the room would say or do something we found funny. i miss his "no-bullshit" attitude towards life. very little ever got to him unless his family was negatively affected. i miss how he used to sing about what he was doing all the time. emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, whatever! he'd sing his way through it. i miss how he loved warm weather and the ocean. he was always so happy when he was in florida. i miss how everyone (including him) used to joke about his big hairy body and refer to it as his "sweater". i miss sitting in front of a cozy fire in the living room on winter nights with him. i miss how he always told me i was doing a great job as a mom. no matter how crazy my kids might act, he would say to me "they're alright, melissa, they're alright," meaning they are kids and i shouldn't stress about it. 

- i recently bought a couple books on life after death and near-death experiences. i finished them both in less than a week, i couldn't put them down. the stories told by people (of various religions and cultures) who have had near-death experiences were amazing. all of them were declared dead for a period of time and during that time left their bodies briefly and took on a different form of being. they all experienced a complete understanding of all the events in their life and said it was more beautiful than anything they experienced in their life. imagining my dad experiencing something similar fills me with peace. 

- talking to others around my age who have lost a parent has been a huge blessing for me. i have a friend in seattle who's dad is dying of cancer thousands of miles away and i try to be there for her in any way i can because i understand what she is going through (it's eerie how similar our stories are). i'm so thankful for everyone who has helped me through this. none of us are promised an easy life, but we can make it through even the most heartbreaking experiences with the compassion of others who truly care. thanks for reading! 

my dad and baby azalea in 2011

1 comment:

Lisa said...

The title of this post had me crying- so beautiful. I loved what you wrote about his sense of humor and his "sweater". And that he would say, "they're alright" about the kids and it was a reminder to relax. Such a wonderful memory, one that I hope surrounds you during stressful moments with the kiddos. I think your Dad would be SO proud of you for your strength. Remaining joyful and living your life are absolutely amazing ways to honor him- He raised you so well! I think that our Dad's are probably very much alike, so I have a funny suspicion that they've met and are talking fire protection (and all about their Daughters) somewhere in Heaven. <3


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