In an instant your whole life can change. Birth, death, pain, joy, grief. It’s all so overwhelming.
Thursday March 30th, 2017 I woke up at 6 am to the call I’ve dreaded for over 10 years. And you know what sucks? I was 2500 miles away. I hadn’t even been in Oregon a month and I was on a plane headed back to Louisiana.
GET ME TO MY FAMILY.
It was all a blur. I traveled for 8 hours and arrived. The following 2 weeks were a mixture of every emotion you can name. Dad was really gone.
I got straight to work and began cleaning out drawers and closets. I wanted to do it while I was still in shock, I guess. We planned a local memorial. We planned an out of state memorial. We traveled for a week to Texas. I saw my husband for a week while we had the services. Then it was back to reality. I’m fortunate that I was able to stay with my mom for a month after the memorials. It was difficult. Shock wears off slowly and there is a readjustment phase.
We found a free group grief recovery meeting that meets weekly. It was such a blessing that I got to go every week for a month. I realized that everything I was doing to stay busy and not validate my emotions would probably come back and bite me in the ass. I started allowing myself to grieve more. I didn’t want to keep it all bottled up, but I was also trying to stay strong.
My TO DO lists had lists. My bullet points had smaller bullet points. I wanted to get as much done for mom as I could while I was there and it was an easy way to distract myself from reality. At least it was for a while. The first 2 weeks flew by because I kept so busy. I was actually eating pretty well after we got back from Texas. I really lost sight of trying the last 10 days that I was there. I had gained almost 10 lbs in 6 weeks. NOT COOL.
It’s bad enough that I was struggling with sadness, loss, and anger, but now I had to add in guilt that I was giving in to my emotional eating. I know. I KNOW- It’s ok. It’s temporary. I’ve heard it all, both from myself, and my loved ones. I just didn’t need to add insult to injury while I was struggling.
I guess I’m lucky. I’ve only lost 1 person close to me before dad. I was a kid when all my grandparents died, so this was my first family loss. I suppose I should be grateful, but as I sit here wearing his old shirt, I don’t feel lucky. I feel sad. I feel a million miles away from my family. I feel torn between wanting to be there and wanting to be here in Oregon. I’ve been back for 2 days and I’m trying to stay busy. Since I’m unemployed, all my focus has been on things around the house and getting back into a healthy routine.
I immediately started eating clean again and I can already tell a difference in just 48 hours. I went to the gym yesterday and wanted to go full throttle on working out and after 15 minutes of weights, I found out a restorative gently yoga class was starting. I’m always a little nervous when I try a new class, or really anything new. It turned out to be great. I got out of my head, enjoyed the stretches, and felt good afterwards. I did some gardening. I cooked a healthy soup. I am trying desperately to cling to anything that makes me feel like ME.
It was incredibly hard to leave mom with dad being so sick when I moved out here in March, and again, it was incredibly hard to leave mom alone when I left the second time. Someone in the grief recovery group pointed something out to me that I hadn’t thought of before. I’m doubly grieving. I’m grieving dad, of course, and I’m grieving the idea of leaving mom and home. That’s a heavy feeling. The kind of heavy feeling that makes you want to eat a whole cake and a pint of ice cream. But I’m not going down like that. I KNOW that eating well affects my mood and why would I not give it my all to try to feel better???
It’s so weird. Time stands still, yet flies by at the same time after a life altering event.
I’m never going to see him again. I’m never going to talk to him again. I’m never going to hear his laugh or get advice again. I miss him already every day. Life is so damn short.
And while I know that the last few years of his life were of very low quality, I selfishly want him here. He was miserable and he was ready to go. That never means we are ready to lose them.
I’m also selfishly glad that the struggles it brought mom are over. Now we have a whole new level of struggle. She has been so strong and has amazed me so much. She is so grateful for all my help and I’m so thankful to have been able to do what I could while I was there. Saying “see you later” to her was incredibly difficult because of my guilt and grief, but I know she will be OK. My sister has been an amazing support to all of us and has helped so much. I would have never made it without her. My husband has also been so wonderful and I’m so fortunate to have such an understanding and patient soul to share my life with.
The name of the game is and has always been DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED. I’ve said that for years. It was dad’s illness that motivated me to lose weight and try to get healthy a few years ago. I really can’t imagine having had the push in any other way. I guess if I’m going to take the silver lining approach, then that’s it. I’m only grateful for his illness for 2 reasons. Firstly because it inspired my health journey, and second because it brought my family closer together. I never want to live a life where I don’t let people know what they mean to me. I will annoy you all with my love!!!
Life is too damn short and I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend it feeling guilty over eating a cupcake every once in a while or feeling less than because I didn’t go to the gym every day this week. (PSSSHT- like that’s ever been a thing) I’m not going back though. I’m not going to eat crap and beat myself up. I’m also not going to be so strict that I feel like a slave to my lifestyle. There is always a balance and I’m on the journey to figuring it out. Life is funny that way. It’s a journey, as they say. I’m unsure of my path and have so many questions with no answers, but I’m trying every damn day to live my passion. I don’t have it figured out. And that’s OK. I just want to be my best ME.
It’s still very early in the grieving process and I’ve been told repeatedly that grief has no time table and no one grieves the same as anyone else. I’m taking it one day at a time just like I always have in this life. I’m going to continue to honor dad’s life and struggles by pursuing my goals and keeping him with me at all times.
Thank you to every single person who reached out to me during this time. Not a single message, text, card, gift, or kind word went unappreciated. It’s hard because I feel so isolated out here in Oregon where I only know a couple of people, but my heart is full because of all the love I’ve received from all over the world!
For you, dad, I am grateful for every single thing you ever did for me and for all the things you continue to do for me. I carry you in my heart forever.