Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm Bumming

Living after the loss of a parent, at any age, is hard. It's even harder when you lose them so unexpectedly at a relatively young age. My dad, specifically, was 67. I often say, "If he'd only made it to 70, it would feel so much older".

Many people have told me, "Well at least he didn't suffer". All I can think is, yeah, he didn't suffer, but I'd give anything to have days, weeks, or even months with him. I crave the opportunity to sit by his bedside, knowing he's dying, and talk to him about life. To get all of his pearls of wisdom - not that he was shy about departing his knowledge in the first place.

Everyone says the first year is the hardest. Their first birthday, the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without them, all of the major firsts. For me the smaller firsts are just as hard because you don't have that support system around you, expecting those moments to be rough. Like the first time you have to set the table and you habitually count out five when you only need four. The first time you go to call him, like you always do, every day after work. The first time your car breaks down and you need to run all the symptoms by him for a diagnosis. Those are all hard - and you're not surrounded by loved ones. You're alone, in your car, or at home. So yes, the first year will be really hard, for more reasons than most people can't expect. But I don't think it'll be the hardest.

I feel like, once the shock of everything wears off and we finally close all the loose ends that he left for us, that's when it will really hit me. It will be the realization that this is long-term. It is not something that we're just dealing with now. You almost get into this comfort zone of taking care of all the incidentals, thinking all will go back to normal once everything is closed out. And when everything is completed, that's when you'll feel empty. The realization that this will always be, from here on out, my life.

It's been 146 days since I've talked to him. I'm worried about the day that I'll be detached from that moment in time. That life-changing phone call. The day hen he and his quirks won't be as fresh in my mind.

I am trying to build a new relationship with him. One that will continue to include him in my life, as involved as he was before. Within minutes of that call I was crying, "I have no dad anymore, my dad's gone." In the days following those words I thought to myself how pissed he would be if he heard me say that. I can just hear him, "What the heck? I give you 27 years and I can't even retain the title of 'Dad'?" That put a smile on my face. He'll always be my dad.

Even still, I find that I'm constantly reminding myself, just because he's no longer alive doesn't take away any of the moments that I've ever shared with him. I'm not sure if I'm alone in this feeling, but I catch myself wondering, if he's no longer here to remember it, does it still have as much value? Was it as important as I remember it to have been? Is it even a relevant memory anymore? I guess it's hard to put into words, but it feels like it's a one-sided memory now. So I remind myself, he was there, he had that memory and just because he's gone, he's not untouchable. Those memories aren't larger than life. They are mine, they are his, they will always have happened, and they were simple.


  1. Those memories ARE larger than life, and they ARE larger than death, and yes they have just as much value even though he isn't here to reminisce over them with you. They're important because YOU are still here.

    I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I won't pretend to understand the loss of a parent, but I do understand the loss of someone very dear and important to you.

    Do something today that would honor his memory, something you enjoyed doing together or that you know would make him smile. And hopefully it'll make you smile too.

  2. Melissa,
    Thank you so much for the comment and sorry it took so long for me to respond.

    My dad was a total dork who made the most mundane thing fun so I've promised him that I will do one totally ridiculous thing each day. Whether it's singing at the top of my lungs in the car or making a snow angel in the snow - even though I'm 27. He was a kid at heart and nothing was too infantile for him. That's the best way I can find to honor him. Having fun doing something stupid.

    And thanks for confirming the validity of our memories. I am having a hard time with that right now and your comments brought tears to my eyes! Thank you.