All I Did Was Blink

Being 39: Where I've been, Where I am, and Where I'm going…

Good Grief? Pt.1 December 7, 2010

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 7:27 pm
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Father and daughter

Image by apdk via Flickr

Grief is such a strange thing. Today marks 20 years since my father passed away. I was 19. The memories come flooding back as I type these words. The day was filled with commotion. One of my sisters was trying to travel across two states to see him before he died.

She did not make it.

I answered the phone and tried to pass her off to my mother. She said; ‘just tell me’.

It was a peaceful night and morning. I had been sleeping on the sofa in the living room as daddy had been moved to a hospital bed in our dining room. Mom was up and sitting with him off and on. At one point she called me in to observe his breathing.

“I think his breathing has slowed.” “Yep. It has.”

I went back to sleep.

In the morning as mom was making breakfast she called me in to look at him again. No rise and fall of the chest. No sound of air passing through his lungs or nose. Then he took a breath in, held it, let it out. It was his last.

The night before, some of the family had gathered. Dad was talking, joking. We each took a few moments with him alone. I told him that I knew he needed to go but that he was supposed to walk me down the aisle at my wedding someday, he was supposed to be with me through the many coming changes to my life. I held his hand. I told him we would be OK.  The hospice literature and nurses assured us that these were the right things to say to him as he held on, it’s OK to let go…we will be fine.

I still am not ‘fine’.

At first I was depressed. I had left college to be with him for what turned out to be his last month of life. I never returned. I turned inward for several months. It took years to not fall apart on every birthday, anniversary, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, flag day, sunny day, snowy day, rainy day…

His death shook me. Changed me. Changed all of us.

December 7 was also the birthday of one of my brothers. I am sure he never truly recovered. He was not with us through the process of saying goodbye, he was not at the funeral.

My brother died two months after 9/11. My sister died last Christmas. They both struggled so much with the loss of our father.

The rest of my siblings and my family finally no longer call each other on December 7 to cry over the phone. We no longer call on dad’s birthday or mom and dad’s anniversary. I can barely wrap my mind around 20 years past. There is a space in my heart and life that will always wish he were here with me, with us.

This year is supposed to be about me letting go of some long-held ‘stuff’ in my life, figuratively and literally. As I de-clutter my home and my heart, I rediscover anew the things that have truly meant the most to me in life. People. Love. Relationship. Honesty. Loyalty. Integrity. Laughter. Tears. Connection. Grief.

Yes. Even grief. If I do not grieve someone’s dying, then I must have completely missed out on their living. That could very well be the saddest thing I could ever imagine.

 

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R.I.P. JG September 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — itsahappyblog @ 3:41 pm
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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Beatitudes #2)

Putting aside all that is mishandled, misunderstood, misinterpreted, misrepresented, mismanaged, and just plain missing from our day-to-day lives, lets talk about missed human connections.

This week I mourn the loss of someone very dear to my heart. She has served as role model, mentor, mother-figure, friend, traveling companion, partner in music, and all around inspiration since the beginning of my life. I ‘grew up’ with her kids. I have laughed with her, learned from her, admired her and cried with her.

JG holds for me the very strongest memory of the day we held funeral services for my dad. I was nineteen. JG and I had traveled together for 5 years already, along with her husband and, at times, various others – including my sister. I often would call her mom instead of by her given name. Her son was one of my very best BFF‘s. I would safely say we were extremely close.

There had been a lot of activity surrounding the death of my father and this day was no exception. So many people coming and going, hugging and talking, meaning well. I could not hear a word they were saying. My daddy was gone and my entire life was in upheaval. I had left college to be with him for what turned out to be the last month of his life. No regrets there, but I never made it back to school. That is a subject I will save for another day.

I found myself sitting in one of those funeral home chairs, the ones that have a little extra cushioning and arm rests for the grieving family, not the extra folding chairs they pull out for the extra big crowds that may show up. I was looking at my dad. I was quiet. All of the well-meaning friends and relatives kept making their way over to me with kind words that never actually penetrated my thoughts.

Then JG walked in. At first I did not notice her. But soon, and every so often since, I felt when she silently slipped in behind me and placed her hand on my shoulder. She stood there for what seemed like forever while others came and went. She never said a word. She was just present with me in my grief. She was just loving me the very best way she could have in that moment.

And now I prepare to go and grieve with my family and friends for the loss of her daily presence in our lives…I so desperately want to live by her example and not be one of the nameless, faceless, wordless throngs I am sure will be meaning well.

I lost touch with JG and her family over the years. I think we may have seen each other all of three times since the late 90s. I am not going to go on about how mysterious life is when we ebb and flow in and out of the lives of significant people and that JG’s passing is going to make me stop loosing contact with people. We will continue to ebb and flow out of each others lives until each of us passes from this earth.

I am going to say that I want my 40th year to be about meaningful interactions and that I hope to have a positive lasting impression on those lives I wander in and out of. I know that so many have made positive lasting impressions on my life. I want to tell them so while they can still hear me say it.

R.I.P. JG. You are missed. Greatly.

 

 
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