My Goal this Week in Learning to Love & Be Connected:
This week’s goal was to embrace the joyful memories of my father and allow myself to feel the sadness from remembering that this week is the 5th Anniversary of his passing. But also find a way to be happy and enjoy my birthday.
My Experience this Week:
My father passed away the night of March 14th five years ago, the night before my birthday. It always amazes me how much that day still affects me. Just when I think I will breeze through it, the morning comes with sadness and grief because I still miss him so much.
He survived for 3 weeks when the doctors gave him 1 to 2 at best. But that was my Dad. He always said “doctors don’t know anything, they’re just “practicing” medicine”. He always knew in his heart and truly believed in his own power to make things happen. So it didn’t surprise us at all that he lasted 3 weeks. Just like when he was diagnosed with ALS and was given 2 to 3 years to live…he knew he would put up one of the strongest fights ALS has ever seen. And he certainly did…more than 17 years in fact. I am still blown away by his courage, strength and faith through all the ups and downs.
I can still remember the last night I was with him in the hospital before we brought him home. It was just him and me…he had fallen asleep watching the history channel (one of his favorites besides old western movies) so I used the remote and changed the channel to something I wanted to watch. He immediately woke up, looked at me and said “Hey, I was watching that”. I said “no, you were sleeping”, to which he replied “I was just resting my eyes”…LOL…if I had a dime for every time I heard that I would be rich by now. We laughed and started talking about “stuff” – we always talked about everything going on in my life and he would give me advice – this night was no different. He always knew just what to say.
And one point, he looked at me and asked me what was wrong. I started tearing up and said “I’m not ready. There is still so much we need to do. What about my wedding?”. He held my hand and said “I’m sorry sweetie. Everything is going to be okay, you will be fine and I know I don’t have to worry about you. Don’t you worry…I will be there on your wedding day”. I said “it’s not fair” and started crying, holding his hand and resting my head on his arm while he went back to sleep. I sat there watching him breath for what seemed like hours and I started asking myself and God how I was ever going to deal with this. How was I going to have the strength to say good-bye, to take him home knowing this is the last time, to let our family and friends know what was happening, to witness his last breath, to have a funeral, to say a eulogy, to watch a burial, to live without him. How, how, how?
I always thought that after more than 17 years of preparing myself for that day it somehow would have been easier. But it wasn’t. Loss is loss and a broken heart is broken whether you knew it was coming or not. Those last 3 weeks were some of the most blessed, fun, scary and depressing days of my life. To say I was close to my Dad is a huge understatement. He was always tough on me but he truly was my best friend in so many ways. And I will always be grateful!
So this week, in my year long journey of learning to love more deeply and getting more connected, I wanted to spend time in quiet moments just thinking about him and letting the feelings come – whatever they were. And in the quiet stillness I could feel him near me, and I could hear his voice saying “everything is going to be okay, I am always with you”. The message was so clear and so overwhelming I just cried. But not all the tears were for sadness, because I also felt a slight reassurance that he is not far – that he is watching over me and my family in ways he never could when he was on this earth. And when little miracles happen in my life I can’t help but wonder if he is helping the stars align for me to make them happen.
The second part of my goal was enjoying my birthday. For the 5th year now I have mourned my father on the 14th and then tried to wake up on the 15th in a joyous mood to celebrate my birthday. Each year it has been a little easier and somehow I am able to smile and enjoy my day. Perhaps a little help from him and the Holy Spirit! But I also think it’s because I try to focus on how much fun he must have had celebrating my birthday for so many years. Now that I have a child of my own, I totally get how happy that day is when you remember your little baby coming into the world. I also have amazing family and friends that try to make my birthday special and I am so, so blessed!
This year my birth-DAY turned into a birth-WEEKEND…I was able to spend time with almost all the people I love and care about starting from Friday to Sunday. I felt so LOVED and honored to have so many wonderful people in my life that wanted to spend time celebrating with me. It was a very special weekend and I felt my Dad enjoying it with us! I don’t know if this time of year will ever be “easy” for me and I have no idea if being without my Dad will ever get easier, but knowing that when I am still and quiet, I can connect with him anytime I need him, and in a small way it helps to ease the sadness. The love we shared keeps us connected…always…
I love you Dad and miss you!