Eight weeks. I don't know how it is that time keeps marching on. Some days feel like they last for months. Some days it feels like nothing at all has changed. Other days I'm reminded just how much my entire world has changed and will never be the same and in this case, that isn't a good thing.
I came across something the other day while reading and it really struck me.
I am a griever. That doesn't mean I have a disease. It means that I miss and love someone who has died. Let me grieve at my own pace. My reality is forever changed. Do not judge me nor feel it is your obligation to tell me to "move on" or "get over it." Getting over it is not an option. With time, I will do my best to move forward with one step in front of the other. They might be baby steps, but it's better than none at all. When I need you...just be there.
I am constantly amazed by the number of people who try to tell me how I should be feeling right now. People who still have both parents. People who are married, have kids, grand-kids in some instances, try to tell me that I need to essentially just suck it up because he would want me to. That's not only unfair, it's not fully accurate. My dad was the biggest cry-baby I have ever known...it's where I get it from. Not only that, but my grandma Tressie (yes, I was named after her) passed away before I was even born. My dad lived the last 34 years of his life without her and I heard about how sad he was, how much he missed her, etc, for my entire life. Most people in my family on both sides lived to be 80-90, so based on that we'll assume that I have another 50-60 years of life without my dad. You can't begin to understand what this feels like unless you've lot your dad....and really you can't understand unless you are a woman, unmarried, in your 20's still and have no kids. It's a completely different reality than losing your father when you are already married and have kids. I also can't imagine what it's like for a son to lose his father. But I don't pretend to know what it's like or interject my thoughts on how someone should deal with it or not.
Last week I finally ventured back to Baseball Heaven for the first time since we lost my dad. I was genuinely really excited to go. I met up with an old friend at a pub beforehand to grab something to eat and I should have known when I was about half a block away that the night wasn't going to go in my favor. Why? Because three years ago I looked at a wedding venue with my ex and my mother and it's the place that (even post breakup, obviously) I still imagined my dad eventually walking me down the aisle one day. It hit me all over again that he will never do that. It sucked. During most of the game, I thought of all of the baseball conversations we shared and the memories from the stadium that we shared...as soon as I got into my car afterwards, I lost it. I cried for a while. I was awake and very sick to my stomach for hours after that.
I can truly be completely fine one minute and then the next I see something, hear something, smell something, remember something and I just yearn for my dad. This happens a lot when I go to my hometown. I was there the last full weekend of July and needed to feel my dad's presence. I drove down to our old marina at the lake and just hung out on the docks for a little while. I felt him there and my heart was flooded with memories of being on the water with him. A hot summer breeze blew over the water and I got a whiff of fish and that was all I needed. I left and drove down to the cemetery and that was gut wrenching. I remember very little from the last time I was there because I was so out of it the week we lost him. After that I needed to be with someone who reminded me of my dad, who has the same corny sense of humor that he had. I went to his younger brother's house to visit for a while. Remarkably, at the cemetery was the only time that trip home that I cried.
My mother is moving up here for sure and I'm glad she is. However, I am dreading the process of helping to sort and pack. I hate how many of my dad's things I will never see again because we have no use for them. I know how awful it was for me when my parents packed up to move from Illinois to Florida. I cried and cried. It's totally different now and I can't imagine it would be better. How do you pack up, give away or throw away things that belonged to a parent? You can't keep everything (especially when you live in a one bedroom apartment and have absolutely no use for most of it), but you hate to see someone else have it. I can't imagine there never being a garage full of fishing stuff ever again. I can't imagine not seeing all of his tools. I've already brought some things back to St. Louis with me and there are others that my mom will hold onto and I will get eventually. With my mom moving here, even though I still have a lot of family in and around my hometown, it feels like part of me has to say goodbye...like it's no longer going to be "home." That breaks my heart.
I've also learned over these last eight weeks just how important it is to be kind and gentle with yourself, and not in the normal ways even. For several weeks I beat myself up about the fact I've yet to get back into the gym. Perhaps some people it does help them feel better to physically work it out. For me, it takes everything in me most days to chase a toddler all over creation at work. Throw in the fact that I go through huge of waves of not sleeping or eating and it would actually be really bad for me to go to the gym in that state. I've never been one to let myself just do nothing...I've had days/nights where that's all I crave and you have to let yourself do that because your body, your heart, your mind and your soul need time to just be and not have to fight to make it through the rough days. On the good days, I go out with friends and enjoy normalcy. I think that the biggest thing I've learned is how alone you feel because most of the people in your life (I've now learned from experience) have no idea what to say or not say to you so instead they say nothing. Eventually, you will reach out because you want your people and they'll say something like "Oh, I think about you every day", and you'll think something like "I'm so glad you think of me daily but never reach out, because that helps me...not." And if you're like me, you'll later feel bad for even having such thoughts. Don't hold things against your friends who truly have no idea what you're going through and thus don't know how to approach you. Don't beat yourself up for thoughts that you have because anger is one of the big parts of grief, unfortunately.
When you're grieving, all you can really do is live day to day, and sometimes its more like minute by minute. Nothing truly makes you feel better. Words or people can offer comfort, but I've learned how fleeting comfort really can be. Some days you're going to feel everything and it's going to hurt like hell. Some days you'll laugh and feel normal. Some days you will feel numb to literally everything and everyone around you. But that is in fact normal no matter how strange it feels. And if you want to heal, you have no choice but to let all of it come and at times consume you.