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Life, Loss and Moving Forward (Even When You Don't Want To)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It’s been about a month and a half since my last entry, and well past time for an update. I’m still trying to pick myself up off the floor, but I guess it’s time now.

We lost Dad just minutes before midnight on November 27. Mom, Maggie and I were with him, holding his hands for his last hour. I wish I could say it was peaceful, but for some reason the doctor on call was fighting us on starting the morphine drip earlier in the day, and his nurse was nowhere to be found, so he had to struggle for his last breaths. I'm glad we were with him, but it haunts me. He could not speak at that point, but was interacting with us with his eyes. Just before he died, he cried with us a little -- two tears. None of us really wanted to say goodbye, but we didn't have a choice – least of all Dad.

Since then, I have been trying since to focus on the rest of his life -- which was a very good one. He was a tremendously kind, generous and open-hearted person, and he will be deeply missed by many besides his family. His memorial services were full of love for him -- he was a very humble person who would probably have been overwhelmed by the outpouring, but he deserved all of it. He was not just an awesome Dad, but an amazing human being.

Part of me really wants to stay stuck in the past -- the past that had my Dad in it. I have other people that I love, and who love me, but none with whom my relationship is so... uncomplicated. Dad just loved me, no matter what, and I loved him back. Nothing made him happier than just spending time with me (and my Mom and sister). Even in the hospital, he lit right up when I came in the room to see him, even though he was suffering so much. There really is nothing that will replace that smile for me, not ever. I am just trying to take solace in the fact that I was lucky enough to have him for a Dad -- so many people are not nearly so blessed. It is probably churlish to wish for more... but I miss him terribly nonetheless.

I stayed back home with my family for a week and a half after his death, but eventually had to go back to work. That has been hard. Sometimes, I can almost forget long enough to be useful. But I am so drained. Not just tired. I feel all hollowed out inside. The fact that it is the holiday season -- that Dad loved so much -- is not helping one bit. But I hate to be a drag on everyone else -- life is short, and should be enjoyed.

I did come back “home” for Christmas – still here at my parents’ house – although I am still trying to get work done. (As an attorney at a large firm, what matters is the number of billables I can get in by the end of the year – and although we supposedly get 5 days of bereavement leave, it doesn’t change our billable target, so I don’t know what good that does anyone.) Christmas itself was… well, not as hard as I thought it would be, but not easy either. I suspect it will always feel diminished now, without him.

Since I last posted, I did finally hit my “goal” weight – a few days after Dad’s funeral, so I didn’t exactly celebrate it. Maybe I’ll celebrate later, once I’ve kept it off for a few months (so far, so good, despite a few holiday treats).

On the fitness front, I did not run for the week before, or the two weeks after Dad’s death, but have gotten back in the swing since then, despite working some crazy overtime. Did not even attempt the Jingle All the Way 8K – even if my running had somehow stayed on track, I was not feeling nearly jolly enough for such a festive run. (Walked to the farmer’s market that morning, and then went for a run along the Potomac and over the Memorial Bridge that afternoon instead.)

My husband and I did get slots in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler for April 1, 2012, so there is at least something to train for over the winter. But that is far in the future. For now, I’m taking things one day at a time.

My husband has talked me into going out for a fancy dinner and dancing on New Year’s Eve – and my plan is to enjoy it. (Well, at least try not to bring everyone else down with me.) I need to bid GOOD RIDDANCE to 2011, and hope for better things in 2012. Not exactly feeling like a party, but Dad always reminded me that life is short, and you’ve got to enjoy it while you can. So this one’s for you, Dad.
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    So sorry for your loss.
    3210 days ago
    I am so sorry for your loss, but also celebrate that we both had wonderful Dads. This will be a hard year of firsts, but hold on to those memories you so lovingly described. As you go through the rollercoaster of bereavement if you need us to lean on come back to the Lost a Loved One team. We will listen.
    3216 days ago
    Struggling with much of the same feelings. My son died Dec 4-by choice. I have that hollow feeling you describe and I keep trying to get up and return to life and most days, I'd rather not.

    My mother is still living but has no idea who I am. She was the one person in my life that actually loved me, flawas and all. I miss her terribly.

    3219 days ago
    Been there, done that too! Try to enjoy, your dad wouldn't want you to be sad.
    3219 days ago
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    It's so difficult to lose a parent, and it seems unfair that life continues to go on around you while your own world seems to be in suspended animation. Time does make it easier, and memories will bring smiles and happiness. Make 2012 a good year for you, and live the life your dad wants you to live. He was right -- life is short, enjoy it while you can. Wise words.
    3220 days ago
    God bless you dear one! I can so relate having lost our son...the epicenter of our entire universe! You will be on automatic pilot for awhile and just take good care of yourself for this period of time. There were days that I really shouldn't even have been driving because I was a shell behind the wheel...not really a person at all.

    It's been 5 1/2 years since that shocking tragic day (Josh was only 22, about 3 weeks from his 23rd birthday) we were thousands and thousands of miles away on an anniversary cruise celebrating it with friends. Those 12 grueling hours of travel back to the states was a descent into hell that I NEVER want to repeat. We were so grief stricken we truly almost hurled ourselves off the balcony of the cruise ship...thank goodness we had two cats to come home too...and of course the memorial we knew we had to plan to honor our Josh for all of his hundreds and hundreds of friends.

    My heart grieves for your aching heart. All I can say is that we were both truly blessed to have epic humans in our world and to be a part of the joy, happiness, and unconditional love they gave to us.

    I take great comfort in knowing that we will both see our loved ones further down the river and that they are BOTH very much with us...still loving us, cheering for us, helping us navigate life and all it's challenges...just as much as before...but now in a different way.

    Hugs to you dear friend...I don't know how I found your blog...but maybe my Josh and your father have met and are still making magic for both of us to help each other in their memory.

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    3220 days ago
    Absolutely. This one's for your dad. A touching tribute. I'm fond of saying we can't change the past, or bring back those we have lost. We can only live our lives to honor their memories. If they were honorable souls, we can live our lives honorably. If they had a great sense of humor, we can relish the things they would have found amusing.

    Well done, starting down the path to the rest of your life, remembering, cherishing, and honoring your dad!
    3220 days ago
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