Daily OM: Lesson #5 – People We’ve Lost

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I’ve fallen behind just a bit on my Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self. It’s been a couple of rough weeks and blogging has fallen by the wayside as it often does for me. Still, sometimes things happen for a reason. I decided just a few minutes ago that I would go ahead and post the next lesson today. I didn’t know what the topic was, only that it was #5 in the course and that I should have posted it two weeks ago. So when I logged into Daily OM and saw that the topic was remembering people that we’ve lost, I had to chuckle just a bit.

A very fitting topic indeed, since today is the anniversary of my dad’s death. Sometimes you don’t have to plan things to have perfect timing.

My dad died February 13, 2001. It was a sudden, severe heart attack. No warning. He was never sick, never had any symptoms or previous history of heart trouble. One minute he was there, the next he was gone. To say that it was traumatic is an understatement. One of the pillars of my life was ripped away. I had a hard time processing that, and still do sometimes to this day. It had to be a mistake. Despite being fairly religious at the time, I kept thinking that over and over: God had made a mistake. None of this made any sense. 

I compartmentalized everything by focusing on taking care of my mom. I was more worried about her than about myself (and found out later that she felt the same way worrying about me). There were lots of mundane tasks that needed to be done, paperwork to be filed, financial things to be taken care of. We were lucky in that we had a huge support network through our church at the time (I was a member of the Mormon church back then and even though I don’t believe any of the tenants of that faith anymore, I will not listen to anyone disparage them – they have their faults, but they helped our family survive back then in more ways than one). It was probably a few months before I was really able to fully grieve and even then it took years to completely process everything. Hell, I’m still processing it and it’s been 21 years. 

Does it get easier? Of course it does. Almost everything gets easier with time. Does it still feel like only yesterday that he was here? Sometimes, although that has faded to a degree and doesn’t happen as often. Do I wish he was still here? Absolutely, although it’s really hard to picture that. I know my life would probably be drastically different if he was. I also constantly wish that he had been around to see certain things. Sometimes these things are serious (he never got to meet my daughter or my current husband or stepson), sometimes less so (he never got to see the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies!). But it’s much easier to look back and be grateful for the time I had with him and to smile at the memories I have. Here are a few of them.

  • Sitting in our living room when my aunt (his sister) and uncle were visiting. I was playing the piano and my dad was playing the guitar and we were all singing random songs and just being silly.
  • My dad loved to play chess and was pretty good at it. One afternoon, my husband at the time, a friend of ours and I challenged him to a game – the three of us versus him. We would huddle together like football players to try and figure out our next move, then shout, “Move the PAWN!” Still to this day, it’s one of the times I laughed the hardest.
  • Many, many, MANY family trips to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We went there every summer of my childhood. We also spent a lot of time at Walt Disney World too, one of the few benefits of growing up in Florida. Our family would splurge on annual passes and then go up there on random long weekends throughout the year. Travel tip: best time to go is late February because the parks are pretty much empty. No lines anywhere. Stay on the rides and go through multiple times because why not?
  • He found our family dog, or rather, the dog found him. A little dachshund mix, this poor thing was antagonizing the neighbor’s dogs and the wife was chasing it down the street with a broom to get it to leave. My dad was sitting on our front porch and this dog ran up to him and hid behind his leg. My five year old self immediately named it Brownie (guess what color it was) and we kept that dog for the rest of her life. 

I could go on . . . and on and on and on . . . but I’ll stop for now. I will spend February 13th like I always do: trying to keep busy and not think about it too much, inevitably failing to do so. I will laugh and cry and smile and hope that, wherever he is, he is watching over me and is proud of me. 

Categories: Daily OM

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