life lessons, Losing Dad

Dad’s Birthday 

These are my wonderful parents. The picture was taken on 11/22/1998, my 21st Birthday. My parents came to Philly to take me out for my birthday because that’s the kind of parents they are. It is one of my favorites because you can see the true love that we all got to see when they were together.
Tomorrow would have been dad’s 69th birthday. It’s the hardest day of the year for me. I revisit the anger, denial, and deep sadness that came from his sickness and eventual death. That physical ache in my heart shows up and I can’t eat or breathe right. The gaping hole that was left when we lost him pulses to remind me that it will never be full again. The crying that is accompanied by hyperventilation and then complete fatigue returns. Each year, it is his birthday that makes me feel like I’ve lost him all over again. Grief is funny that way. It likes to creep up on you and remind you that it’s still there to torture you.

My daughter never met her grandfather. However, I tell her so many stories about him that I sometimes have to remind her that he is gone. I like that this is the case. To her, he is still very much alive. He always said he would live past 100. In some ways, he was right. He lives in the old hymns. All I have to do is listen to “Come Thou Fount,” close my eyes, and I can feel him there singing along with me. He is in my head during a snowstorm when I realize my gas is on “E.” How many times does he have to tell me not to let it go below half in the winter?! He is in my daughter’s smile whenever she is really happy and her whole face lights up. I see him in that joy and excitement for life that fills her every being on a daily basis.

Because of this, I let her decide what we will do to celebrate him tomorrow. She said we should go for a hike and have a “Charlie Brown Birthday party.” So, we will do just that. Or, we will go for a hike, eat peppermint patties, and then search the city of Philadelphia for a cupcake or cake with Peanuts characters on it. I think my dad would approve!

Happy Birthday Dad! We love you and miss you tons!!

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Losing Dad

Sunrise, Sunset

I used to love sunsets. I have a family in Montana that I have stayed with a few times and one of the boys actually saw a sunset and said it was “Rebekah’s sunset.” The sunsets in Montana, like Alaska, are fantastic! The other day, I was driving to work and was stopped at a light. I looked out my window and saw a woman on her porch swinging on a porch swing, reading a book. The breeze was perfect, the sun was going down and only slightly touching her. There was a tranquility water fountain beside her. I wanted to get out of my car and join her.

sunset

A few years ago, I remember my life was happy. My job was amazing, my relationship was new and exciting and seemed like it was going somewhere, I had just started my Masters program, and I had a new, beautiful house. I was also training for my first half marathon. My dad had just been diagnosed with cancer, but we were all hopeful and thought he might even be able to beat this damn thing. I remember looking at a friend of mine and saying my life was perfect and wonderful and I couldn’t remember being so happy. I took the time to enjoy sunsets.

Now, it seems like all of that has fallen apart. My hope has dwindled. I was laid off from the job I thought I was going to do for the rest of my life. My relationship is a question mark. My future is a question mark. My heart needs medication to work properly. My house feels more like a temporary dorm then a house. I don’t know what life will be like without my dad.  I can’t remember the last sunset I saw. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and just took the time to swing and read and breathe.

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