Anger. Confusion. Frustration. Sadness. Exhaustion. Did, I mention anger? These are some of the many emotions I’ve been feeling since suddenly losing my dad right before Thanksgiving. (Only the kick-off to his favorite time of year. It’s fine) It’s been over 2 months, and I honestly still am struggling. Grief isn’t easy to understand or explain. It’s different for everyone. Even just for my siblings and I it’s different. Being single and living an hour away from my siblings and mom has proven to be very, very hard during all this. (Normally I’m Miss Independent, but sometimes even Miss Independent becomes needy). I can’t thank my friends who live in town enough for being there for me through all of this. Ya’ll are the real MVP’s. (and will continue to be, cause, well, this shit still sucks).
One minute, I’m good and everything is fine. The next, I’m vacuuming my living room and it hits me again, and I’m sitting on the floor sobbing for 2 hours. It’s such an overwhelming experience and honestly a shitty one to have to go through at such a young age. (I know there are so many other people who got a lot less time with their parents and that sucks. A lot. But for me, 30 years just wasn’t nearly enough time).
I’m beyond grateful for all my dad got to experience with me. My entire childhood he somehow never missed anything for all 4 of us kids. I still don’t know how he did it. (or how he had the patience and energy, to be honest). When I was going to a million doctor appointments in the process of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, he was my biggest supporter and always gave me a hug when I needed it. He knew when I was in pain, even when I tried to hide it. The man was a saint.
But, I’m selfish. And angry. And disappointed thinking about all the things that he won’t physically be here for in my life.
What if I get married? He won’t be able meet and give his stamp of approval of the guy and give permission to marry me. Or walk me down the aisle. Or give me away. (not many people know this, well, until now, but it’s actually something my dad talked to me about quite a few times. He was so excited about it. “Saving the best for last” he would say. (sorry sibs))
What if I have kids? He won’t get to be their pop-pop. And damnit, he was a great one.
What am I most afraid of, you ask? (you didn’t. but i’m going to tell you anyway)
WHAT IF I START TO FORGET HIM. What if I wake up one day, and forget the sound of his voice? Or his laugh? Or the sound of the stupid whistle noise he would make when he wanted to show you something or explain something. What if I forget the cooking tips he taught me? Or forget the excitement in his voice after calling me right after the Eagles won their first super bowl?
I really could go on, and on, and on about how much it sucks to have lost him. I could talk for days about the guy he was. The unofficial manager of the Phillies and Eagles. Always giving directions even though we were gonna just put it in the GPS anyway. Avid reader and gardener. Loved the library and road trips. Loved our Irish heritage (and loved passing it down to us kids). Funny. Generous. Supportive. SO F*CKING SUPPORTIVE. Of everyone, of anything. Supportive, and proud. So, so proud.
I somehow worked up the guts to speak about him at his memorial and focused on the proud piece. He was proud of us kids for EVERYTHING. No exaggeration. I’ve been drinking PBR since college, because, it’s cheap. Well, once it became popular dad would brag to his friends and co-workers that I drank it, and liked it. Forget talking about my job, or where I was living. “Julie, oh yeah, let me tell you about her. She loves PBR. It’s great.” I mean, could be worse I guess? (and, yes, before you ask, I did in fact drink a PBR in front of a room full of people as I talked about him). As proud as he was of us, I really, REALLY hope he knows how proud of him I am. Proud, and grateful for everything.
One lesson I learned from all this, is that everyone deals with grief differently. A few things I learned and wanted to share as I wrap this up:
- Don’t judge someone based off how they are reacting. It’s confusing, and shocking and totally shatters your world. If someone appears “fine”, they probably aren’t. don’t assume.
- Let people talk. I am super guilty of this too, and am being more mindful and conscious of it. but sometimes, I just need to talk. About my dad, my pain, my f*cked up dreams. It’s human nature to want to tell our own story and experiences to let someone know you “get it”, but, sometimes I just need to be selfish and talk, and cry, and then probably talk some more.
- BE PATIENT. With yourself, with your grieving friend/family member. There’s no time limit or “Grieving your dad for dummies” book. Be patient, and understanding, and have a lot of tissues available.
Well, now I’m sitting here, in my Christmas pj’s, watching the Super Bowl pre-game and really missing him. If we weren’t watching the Super Bowl (or any football game) together we would be texting about it the entire time (it was usually not PG. We taught each other quite a few words and phrases over the years).
Hopefully I stop crying before my wings get delivered. (Poor delivery guy if not.)
Happy Superbowl Sunday friends.