Friday, August 19, 2011

Life After Loss - One Year Later

It's been one year since my dad's death. I hate that this year is over, but at the same time I'm so glad I no longer have to go through what I went through in that one year. The hours and days after his death he felt so far away, yet still so touchable. His side of the bed still had the imprint of the last time he slept there. The back of his office chair where his head rested still smelled like him. His shampoo bottle was less than half-used. The magazine on his nightstand was open to the article he was still reading. There were beers in the fridge that only he liked. There was still his water bottle sitting on the passenger side seat of the car, waiting for him after he finished his run. Everything was as if he had just been here and was going to come right back. He was still alive through all of his unfinished "business".

Losing that "touchableness" provides another grieving process. When the sheets get washed and his smell disapates. When the beers are drunk by visitors who come to mourn with us and the shampoo gets used. Are you supposed to go out and buy more beer so the supply never ends or just allow yourself to enjoy the last few sips with friends that knew him best. Allowing yourself to let go of his everyday and realizing there's no need to restock his life is hard, but necessary.

While he no longer felt "touchable" in those next 11 months, at least you could still look back on "this time last year" and think about what he was doing then. He still felt nearby. Just a short hop, skip, and a moment away. Today, after 5pm, I no longer have a "this time last year". That comfort is gone.

I don't even know what I'm supposed to do with myself today. So I've decided I should spend this time trying to figure out what the next year will consist of.

One thing that I need to do better with is appreciating what I have. Yes me, who now knows the value of a person, still needs to be better at appreciating them. I spent so much time mourning over my loss, and rightfully so, that I'd forgotten to truly appreciate what I still have. It's funny, death slaps you in the face - reminding you to treasure every moment you have with people and you think you're so much more aware of what can happen now. Yet even having gone through this, I realize I sometimes overlook what I still have by obsessively mourning over what I don't. I've neglected who's left as I desperately cling to the memory of who I've lost.

This next year I want to look back on every Dad memory with a smile rather than tears. Hopefully doing that will free up the time I spent in a daze to instead appreciate everyone I'm blessed with. I know better than many how precious this time with them is and how short that time can be. So I can officially say I've finally gotten the message my dad spent the last year trying to teach me.

This is not to say I will "move on" or not think about him, or even still, not have my moments of uncontrollable tears. Because I will and I still want to. I've always been appreciative of sadness after death. After all, if I wasn't as sad as I am and for as long as I will be, then that would mean I hadn't loved him as much. The more you mourn the more they meant to you. That's how I look at it. But I truly do need to appreciate everything I have left. I need to live in the moment with memories of the past rather than living in the past and missing out on my memories of the moment.

A big thank you to everyone who has reminisced with me this past year. Every story you've told and every tear you've shed with me has meant more than I could ever tell you. I appreciate you and look forward to living life making memories with you!

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