As my father’s 60th birthday approaches, I can’t help but think about celebration and grief.
I would love to call my Dad on the phone and remind him that he’s another year older and that his hairline has disappeared. I would probably call him the ol’ Onceler and we’d talk about our days and the grandkids and all things good and bad. He would reminisce on a full life and we would laugh. He’d probably answer “Yello…..” and he’d inevitably throw in a “quitcherbitchin” when I started to rant about any nonsensical thing.
Maybe a surprise party; balloons, cake, and presents. We would discuss my dissertation and all of the studying he did in college when I was a kid. He would share all of the wit and the troubles. He would also remind me that he made more money than I probably ever will,
-because he did not finish college,
-life was not fair,
-and I should not stand for that type of treatment.
This was his gentle, and obvious way, of ribbing me into a competition to push beyond the limits he envisioned that I had set for myself. I also would never do the types of manual, dangerous work he did, so there is that too.
He would tell the very best “dad jokes” and about how my driving always scared him. “She always said the lines on the road were a suggestion…..” Or, he’d do that weird egg crack trick on top of my head, because no matter how successful or old, making your child’s stomach turn is somehow hilarious. And when he did, I would gently remind him of how when I was little I removed the fish from their meticoulsly pristine home, dried them off, and put them back! *That’s one of those stories you tell your parents later in life because you’d get in major trouble when you were six*
No matter how exciting or mundane, I would love to see these pop up again.
This isn’t the first time, and I hope it is not the last time I have written about grief. You are welcome to see Like A Stone for more about losing my father. There is no going back to whatever I pictured an ideal existence to be before. This is my new normal.
There is nothing exceptional to any part of the story other than it is my own. Maybe there is someone that needs to know that a new normal is possible. Maybe someone needs to know that coupling grief and depression is not crippling, but it is ok if sometimes it needs to be. For 24 years, he knew what life was like without me, but I did not learn how to exist without him for 31. This is year 4, and I am ok.
I was so damn angry when it happened. Then I was relieved. Today it is fine. I cannot tell you what comes next. Through death I learned that nothing I care about and intend to protect can be bought. Time is a far more valuable currency.
I learned that letting go is an option. There is nothing I need to inject where the universe is perfectly qualified. The integrity that I so fearfully wanted to protect was not going to be sustained through any venegful or foolish acts. I learned that people can be gentle and loving and people can be selfish and hurtful, and when the strings are pulled tight the spirit that they feed will not hide for long. I learned that no one gets to define my intentions but me and I learned to live with the words that convey misunderstanding. I learned to accept the apology that I was never given. And I learned to forgive myself for being human; weaknesses and all.
I learned that the example that I set will only be positive if I let go of fear. I appreciate all of the times when my heart was hurting and I was simply told, “you don’t have to put up with that”. So, I changed my response instead of controlling the situation. I learned that I am too small to carry the weight of everything. I learned to appreciate travelling places where I am reminded that I am small.
Have you ever watched animations of the universe? They tend to start at Earth and pull back through systems and galaxies until we are all but unrecognizable, but an integral piece. Makes me cry, every-dang-time.
I have spent time educating children and adults about safety. Here may be just the spot to interject some of that transferrable advice. If you, or someone that you care about, is struggling with addiction, depression, or other mental/physical health concerns, take time to identify the people in your life that you can go to for help. Whether directly affected or an observer, it is ok to reach out for help. You are not a burden.
Eve is a mom, student, daughter, sister, blogger, doer, thinker, and more. Any and all blog content should be viewed as opinion and any sources should be verified prior to using any of these words in that particular order to form your own (opinions). For more, visit: Happy Kotter: Disclaimer. Have a great day!