Tag Archive | grief

Rest in Peace Biz

Today, at about 3:20 pm, Biz crossed over the rainbow bridge.  It was a nice, spring day, and he went outside for one last day in the sunshine before he came inside, lay down, and was suddenly gone.

He was 32 years old, and had used up at least 17 lives, so it wasn’t a surprise, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

My parents bought Biz for me when I was 14 years old, in January 1990, over 30 years ago.  He was a two year old at the time, with no common sense, but he never really acquired much of that.  He was spastic his entire life, spooking at nothing, barging through doorways and gates, always in a rush to get in for dinner.  Unless it was spring, when on nice days, he would decide he wanted to stay outside, and whoever was trying to catch him could just go pound sand…

He was always high spirited, and full of piss and vinegar.  He trotted around, blowing and snorting, with his tail in the air whenever he had the chance.

The first time I tried to give him an apple, he didn’t know what it was, and wouldn’t eat it, so I gave it to his neighbor.  You better believe he never made that mistake again!

He let the cats ride him, but he loved to chase the dogs, and bite the cows.

He had a special talent for injuring himself or getting sick and was close to death at least four times that I can think of.  He had an immense capacity for healing.  He proved the vets wrong time and time again, living through horrific wounds, incredibly high fevers, equine influenza, suspected salmonella poisonings (yes that’s plural).  We made bets on whether he would go out in a blaze of glory, or just lie down and go when it was time.

He was patient about being poked and prodded, unless you wanted to poke or prod his face.  That required the good drugs…

He was a pain in the ass, but a sweet one at that.

 

I’m incredibly sad, but he lived a very good life, and he didn’t have to suffer a long, slow decline.  Rest in Peace, Biz.

One Full Year

“It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab a hold of life and let it pull you forward.” ~ Patti Davis, Author

My father died a year ago today.  One full year without him, and a year of firsts.  I still miss him like crazy.

Dad with his dog Pixie

 

Miss You Dad – Happy Father’s Day

I hope you are having a good time in Heaven, Dad.

I do think it was you who tickled my feet the other night when I was asleep – you always did like tickling my feet.

I miss those bike rides we used to go on when I was a kid; miles long rides out to the lake or wherever, starting when I was so small that I sat in that seat mounted on the back of your bike.  Then later when I had my own 10-speed, the one you bought from the Police auction.  I remember the day you took the training wheels off my bike at the park, then let go of the back when I wasn’t paying attention.  I rode on my own until I realized you weren’t back there anymore, and then crashed into that parked car.  Oops.  Even as an adult, we sometimes went for a bike ride at Grandma’s house, even though there wasn’t much to bike to in the middle of small town Michigan.

I miss sitting at the dinner table and talking about investments, current events, or what was going on at work.  I’m grateful that I lived close enough that dinners were possible on a random Tuesday night.  I miss teasing you about the way you said, “onion,” or the fact that you liked your steak super-dead…

I was thinking the other day about that summer that we laid all those bricks for your patio.  That was a lot of work, but the dinners afterwards were good, and I always enjoyed talking with you.

I have always been grateful that you taught me to be really good with money.  I hope I get to retire early like you did; that’s my plan anyway.  Work only as long as I have to, then take off and see more of the world.  I always loved hearing about the trips you took with my mom, and the emails you would send to the family about your adventures.

I wish you would have taught me more about fixing stuff around the house.  I miss those days when you would come over to help me prune my fruit trees; I’ve never been tall enough to reach those higher branches very well.

I miss watching you sit with your sisters on trips to Michigan, talking about growing up on the farm.  I hate that I will never again see you laugh so hard that you cry – I always loved that.  No one could make you laugh like your sisters could.  I loved seeing you happy.

I’m still kind of mad at you for leaving us with no warning, Dad.  I’m so grateful that you didn’t suffer from some long illness, but I’m still so sad that we never had a chance to say goodbye.  I saw you at least every few weeks, but I still feel like I should have been around more.  I guess that’s what happens after someone is gone – we second guess everything we did or didn’t do.  That part sucks.  It is still difficult to comprehend that I’ll never get to talk to you again, or help with a project, or just sit and watch the news with you.  I’ll never get to sit around the fire pit and have smores with you again, or sit next to you on a plane on a family trip to Michigan.

I love you and miss you something fierce, Dad.  Happy Father’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day

I’m so lucky that I have the mother that I do.

My mama taught art lessons at my school when I was growing up and painted murals outside the classroom doors at my elementary school.

She typed up my creative writing stories when I was little, and bound them into books with my illustrations.  She still has them.

She led my girl scout troop and my 4-H club, and organized camping trips and arena rides and all sorts of learning excursions.  We camped in the rain and the heat, but really, since it is the Pacific Northwest, we mostly camped in the rain.  We sold cookies and Christmas swags and manned hot dog stands and a million other things that are undoubtedly a huge pain in the butt for any parent.

She helped me bathe and scrub my all white horse after a muddy winter.  I bet she was pretty happy when I got a bay (and a warm water wash rack).

She let my friend move in with us when she was having a tough time with her family.

My mother is talented with all things crafty.  She can sew and quilt, paint, make jewelry, dye fabric, make paper and a million other arts and crafts.  I am in awe of her talent – I wish I had gotten the genes for any of it!

My mama taught me all about my family background, from my father’s ancestors in Poland and Bohemia, to her ancestors in Scotland and England.  We went to visit the places where my great-grandmother lived in Scotland before she crossed the ocean to Boston.  She tried haggis in Scotland.

She went on a road trip with me and when I just about crashed the rental car, we laughed so hard we cried – after of course.  When the dead bunny needed to be extricated from the grill of the same car, she grabbed a paper town and pulled him out.

She has taken care of my cats, my horses, my friends and me without hesitation.

My mama practices tough love when I need it, providing me with that candid perspective.  “You can do anything for 90 days.”  If I didn’t get to make the choice, at least I could affect the outcome.

Mom panning for gold. She makes it look effortless…

She lost my father, her partner and husband of over 50 years 3 months ago, but she hasn’t let that stop her from living.  Even with that kick in the teeth, she hasn’t given up.  She keeps trying, keeps getting things done. It isn’t fair and it sucks, but what other choice do you have?

She taught me that life is what you make it.  You try your hardest and do your best, and what comes to you is in direct proportion to your effort.  You look on the bright side even on the darkest of days.  You might take a break, but you don’t give up.

My mama hasn’t had an easy road lately, but I admire her fortitude.  She’s badass.  I hope I am just a little like her.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you.

 

 

 

Moving On

Somewhere, in that space between the loss and the letting go of it, you must feel its whole, heavy, crushing weight.  That’s what grief is. No one prepares you for how heavy that weight is, how hard it is to carry, or how long it will linger in your heart.  But you have to feel it in its entirely, in order to feel the light begin to peek in the cracks on the other side of grief.  It will never go away completely; you will always carry some of it with you.  It changes you, but in time the light will come back and you will see the road forward with new eyes.

My last three years have been largely about grief.  The end of my marriage, a job with a toxic environment, the loss of two beloved cats, and having my life upended by my father’s sudden death.

There were nights I cried myself to sleep, and days I felt so numb that I thought I may never cry again.  I walked with that weight pressing me down, invading every inch of my soul.  I walked even on days when I thought I couldn’t possibly have any more strength.  I lay awake most nights at 3 am, turning over every word, every feeling, every look I had received, trying to make sense of what went wrong.  I did this even when I knew logically that I did the best I could, I did exactly what I was supposed to do, I upheld my end of the deal.  Not perfectly, but I did the best I could.

I lay awake with the weight of knowing that you can’t make somebody else step up to the plate, or keep the promises they made.  Knowing that sometimes you just run into assholes, and kindness won’t make them stop being assholes.  Knowing that sometimes we all get the shitty end of the deal, no matter what we do.  When I did sleep, I had vivid nightmares.  My brain is very, very ruthless. For me sleep came and went, with the insomnia returning with each new trauma.  At some point, the sleepless nights once again became nights where I slept more peacefully.  It creeps up slowly, so you aren’t really sure exactly when it happens.  I still have those nights that I wake up at 3 am and turn over everything in my mind; they are coming less often now though.

The light seeps into the cracks, and you find your smile returning.  Sometimes other people notice it before you realize it’s there.  You find yourself laughing where you faked it before.  You find yourself looking forward to things again, instead of seeing each day as something to be endured.  My road trip helped me immeasurably.  With each mile that I drove, and each place I visited, and each kind person I met along the way, the weight lessened.  My heart lightened.  But time played a part too – and the distance that time creates.

No, it never really truly goes away.  You still have the memories.  The good memories, that bring you joy and peace.  And the bad memories hit you like a gut punch when you least expect it.  They also remind you that you can get through it, as long as you don’t give up.  You change.  The grief will still be a part of you.  But it will no longer define you.  So yes, somewhere, in that space between the loss and the letting go of it, you must feel its whole, heavy, crushing weight – there isn’t any other way.  I’m not quite there yet, but one day, it will feel lighter.

 

Two Months Gone

It’s been two months since my dad died.  Life goes on – in many ways it speeds by faster than we ever expect or even want it to.

I still miss him terribly and think about him everyday.  I think about the new job that I will never talk to him about.  I think about the financial things I can’t ask him for advice on.  I think about how much I know my mom misses him and I hurt for her.

I don’t cry every day anymore, but I still cry.  It hits me at unexpected times.  Sometimes I think I’m doing ok, and then I’m suddenly not.  Like writing this post – although I suppose that could have been expected.  His marker at the cemetery niche arrived two weeks ago and when I went to visit him, I cried harder than I have in a while.  There wasn’t any new, fresh realization that he is gone, just a fresh wave of pain.

Blogger Lauren Herschel summed grief up pretty well with a theory she heard from her doctor.  The ball in the box.  The ball starts out being a really big ball in the box, and there is a pain button on the side of the box.  When it bounces around, it hits the side of the box all the time and causes pain.  Gradually, the ball gets smaller, and it doesn’t hit the side of the box quite as often.  When it does though, it still hurts just as much.  Grief is like that.  You can read about it, because she does a better job explaining it (with pictures).

So as time marches on, I find myself smiling again, and laughing.  There is joy and happiness in life, and I don’t want to miss that.  But I still miss you dad.

Circus Trip 2018: The Series Begins

I’m always a bit behind on this blog.  I love writing about my travels and goings-on, and I like to be informative, so my posts always take a while to create.  2018 was a big year for travel for me, since almost half the year was spent away from home.

Since I have wrapped up London, my big road trip last year, the one I named the Circus Road Trip, is the next series on the agenda.  I had been staring at a blank page for a while, pondering how to start.  A writer’s block so to speak.  I mean, how do I start to tackle such a huge, momentous and long event in my life?  I didn’t even really know why, until a conversation last night made me realize.  It’s my Dad.

My Dad loved seeing places and loved road trips too.  He built out my car with my bed for the trip; I mean let’s be real, I was the assistant on that project.  He always read my blog posts and looked at my Facebook pictures.  My mom always made sure to tell him when there was a new post, because he didn’t have a Facebook account of his own.  He always wanted to know where I had been and what I thought of it, and mentioned places I had gone to that he wanted to visit too.

For those of you who are newer to this blog, I wrote last summer about the Circus Road Trip’s origins.  I departed in mid-July and spent several months on the road, traveling through much of the United States, and seeing so much along the way.

Today it has been one month (and also four weeks) since Dad died.  It has kind of flown by, with all the tasks to be done, trying to maintain some semblance of my own life, and let’s be honest, some days where I didn’t feel up to doing much at all.  He would have loved to read about this trip, and I know he was (sometimes impatiently) waiting for these posts to appear.  I know some of the rest of you have been waiting as well.

This is the last posed photograph of my Dad and me, taken in Michigan before my cousin’s wedding in September, while I was on the trip.

So this series is for you Dad.  I know you are up there somewhere reading.  I love you and I hope you enjoy.

 

Note: For those of you who want to read or refresh yourself on the posts I posted while I was on the trip, here they are in order:

1. The Reveal
2. The Build
3. The Hat
4. 11 Days In
5. August Already?
6. Land of Lincoln
7. Heartbreaking Bridge
8. 1 Month In
9. Respite
10. Comparisons
11. Early September
12. New Beginnings
13. A Break
14. Westward
15. Reset
16. Rain
17. The Mighty 5
18. Historic Toilets
19. Kindness
20. Down time
21. Blowout
22. Still Sick
23. No Regrets
24. The Home Stretch
25. Withdrawals