If you would have asked me six months ago what grief means I would have given you some vague shallow answer because then I did not quite know what it was. My only images of grief at that time were from tear jerker movies and when my 79 year old grandpa died when I was 14.
December 14, 2017 changed a lot for me. In fact in changed my whole world. I remember wondering why my mom was calling me at 5AM. Just so you know I hate mornings, so I answered in a groggy and sleepy tone, probably still in a daze from one of my dreams the previous night.
“Your Dad isn’t breathing. The ambulance is on the way.”
I hung up the phone and went downstairs. I did not really know what to do so I thought about taking the kids to school. Wait, that didn’t make sense I have to go see if he’s okay! So I rush to put some clothes on and leave the kids with their Dad.
Long story short he passed away in his sleep. He was only 52 but he had a massive brain bleed from a stroke 4 months earlier leaving him bed ridden and dependent on the very family he created. Following this stroke he also had heat failure and a multitude of other health issues.
First it HITS you. Smacked in your face with the reality that someone you spent your whole life with is gone. Just like that. I mean I knew one day my dad would die. I just thought he would be older and get to walk me down the isle and all the things adult daughters do with their fathers. At least I got to take care of him! Next I was numb. I knew what had happened and I knew the condition he was in. That was my defense mechanism. LOGIC. Logic tells me all the medical terms I was taught in nursing school, all the patients I’ve taken care of, and the death I had seen in those facilities.
BUT logic couldn’t prepare me for my drive home from school, going past the hospital he was in for 3 months, or for the times I can hear his voice in my head telling me he’s proud. Logic didn’t prepare me for the conversations I had with my toddlers on why their favorite person was gone a little bit too soon.
So I learned something new. I learned how to grieve. I learned how to take old happy memories and turn them into motivation to do and be better. I learned not to rely on myself for understanding but to look at the word written in the Holy Book. I learned that it was okay not to be okay as long as tomorrow you wake up and can still see the beauty in everything. I also learned that flesh must die, but love and memories don’t. I was grateful for this new understanding I had on life.
I still get the urge to text him when something good happens. Sometimes I pick up my phone and wonder why he hasn’t texted me in a while, then I remember. I see him when I looked in the mirror, when I look at my kids and when I go past anywhere he’s been. Honestly I like that. I like the subtle reminders that he was here. Because sometimes he seems to distant. So I’ll look at old photos and try to reach a memory from years ago when we’d throw the football together.
Anyway, I hope this helps you. I hope that you get the strength and clarity to be thankful for times you shared with loved ones. I hope you don’t choose to forget them, honor them in your actions and carry their memories with you always. I hope you go by their favorite spot and joy and happiness cross your face as you remember your loved ones. Don’t let this eat you alive. It is a beautiful thing to know our lives are this precious, so cherish everyone you know, cherish and do a cheers to old times and take lots of photos! Know that they really are with you everywhere you go. Just know you have to let them go and live your life the way they’d want you to.