Tag Archive | loss

Happy Birthday in Heaven Biz!

Today would have been Biz’s 33rd birthday…  I still miss him, of course, but it doesn’t hit me as acutely now, a few weeks later.

A few days after Biz died, our local Humane Society started a fundraiser.  For a minimum donation of $20, you could have a portrait done of your pet by one of their volunteer artists.  The catch?  You get what you get, as the “talent” of the artists runs the spectrum, and your portrait would be randomly assigned.  In other words, it’s all in good fun and for the animals!  I made my donation, and emailed a photo of Biz that I like.

This is that photo.  I took it of him in February 2018 when we were standing outside the vet clinic waiting for them to get ready to do his dental work.  He was a bit on edge, and it was a cold, slightly foggy day, but his expression was so regal!  Even in his old age – he was 31 in this photo – he was still a beautiful horse.

Biz, looking regal before the sedative…

I received my finished portrait last week, and I was overcome with how good of a job she did!  I am so impressed at how well she captured his likeness! His curly forelock and mane hair, his white star that got bigger as he became an elderly boy, and even his slightly hanging upper lip.  It is perfect!

I’m beyond the moon to have this memento of my boy.  I hope he’s having fun playing beyond the rainbow bridge.

COVID Diaries: Day 30

I’ve discovered that the “new normal” changes daily.  Since my last COVID update, I have “attended” another remote Board meeting, had a happy hour virtually with girlfriends, and conducted an entire consultant selection process via video conference.  I even put on a nicer sweater and top for that round of video meetings, but paired that with yoga pants and slippers.  There’s no point in getting fancy on bottom during work-from-home days…  I was happy to see the process go well though.

I’m thankful that not only am I an essential worker, but that I have the luxury to do my work from home.  I’m not worried about losing my job, or being exposed on a daily basis, or not being able to pay my bills.  I’m incredibly fortunate.  I’m tired though – there isn’t any slowing of the work I do, so I’m tired.  I don’t sleep very well either, so there’s that…

I’m disappointed by all the partisan blame game and how many people buy into it, on both sides.  I can’t say I’m surprised, because it is just a continuation of the same old, but I really wish some people would give “the other side” the benefit of the doubt.  Can’t we just believe that everyone is doing the best they can, given a myriad of problems we are facing?  Are we going to get some things right?  Yep.  Are we going to get some things wrong?  Absolutely.  There isn’t exactly a playbook for this kind of scenario – even health department officials who have spent years preparing for a pandemic are still having to make educated guesses on whether a particular measure will be effective.  Perhaps we would all be best served by letting go of our judgment and the erroneous beliefs that the “enemy” has some ulterior motive and the other side would do everything right.  Easy enough to armchair quarterback when you aren’t the one responsible for the decisions…  But that’s enough of my soapbox…

People are stressed out and grieving, and sometimes that means they react badly.  I’m no different.  I miss being around people.  I miss hugs.  I miss going out for happy hour and dinner with a girlfriend.  I miss being able to go for a weekend getaway.  I’m lonely.  People complain about being stuck at home with their kids or their annoying partner, but when you live alone, it’s hard.  What I wouldn’t give to have a in-person conversation with someone, snuggled up on the couch with a glass of wine.  It isn’t the same through a screen.  I still don’t have loads of extra time to get projects done, and I’m trying to be sensitive to all those people who are risking their safety every time someone goes into a store to buy house paint.  Especially during allergy season.  Does that cough mean I’m going to spread the virus!???

It’s ok to be grieving.  It’s ok to feel this loss, even if there are others who are sacrificing and suffering differently.

There are some silver linings to this pandemic, and I’m going to focus on those.  Here are a few:

  • My gasoline bill is waaaayyy down.  In fact I got gas a month ago, and still have 3/4 of a tank.  My commute is approximately 10 seconds.
  • I’m getting my steps in everyday!
  • I get to sleep in!  Even if I have to roll into “the office” at 8 am sharp (which I don’t really) I could get up at 7:30 and be showered and have breakfast and walk the 20 feet over to my desk!
  • I have been able to do in-depth research on my toilet paper consumption.  One roll lasts 6-7 days, in case you were wondering.
  • I’m making progress on drinking through my backlog of miscellaneous tea.  Although let’s be real, I still probably won’t ever go for the Chamomile.
  • I’m low maintenance anyway; I don’t color my hair, get manis or pedis, have my eyelashes done, get Botox, or any of the other myriad of beauty things that people are going without.
  • I don’t have to dress up!  My work is fairly casual anyway, but if I put on a decent top for the Monday night remote Board meeting, I’m set for the week!
  • Cora loves having me home.
  • I’m saving money on eating out and travel expenses.  That combined with not having my horse’s expenses anymore means I can save more for retirement – and buy low!
  • I’m safe and healthy and so is my mom!

I hope you are all safe and healthy and well.  We will get through this together, but separate!

How has your COVID experience been so far?

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

 

Numbered Days

Grief is a funny thing.  I read somewhere that you don’t work through it; that it works through you.  I read that it is a manifestation of love; there is no grief without love.  That sounds about right.  It comes in waves.  Some days you can feel remarkably alright.  Other days it is all you can do to take a shower and eat enough.  It would be easier if you could have some advance notice on which days would be which.

I never really thought about my dad dying.  I mean, I guess I did, in an abstract sort of way, the way that all adult children know that that their parents won’t live forever.  But not in any real, tangible way.  My grandmother had other heart attacks before the end, and my grandfather had other strokes before the end, so I guess I was just expecting some sort of warning before it came.  I don’t know which is easier, having no warning but knowing he didn’t have to suffer through some long, sad decline – or having the time to get used to the idea, but knowing he was in pain.  And we don’t get to choose…  You just get what you are given…  That doesn’t stop us from going through all the “what-if’s”, does it?

Dad’s service was nice.  “Nice.”  That word we use to describe things that we have no interest in participating in, but no choice but to do.  The pastor asked how many of us would rather be sitting at a wedding instead of Dad’s service, and I counted myself among that group, even though I don’t really like weddings much at all.  But on a scale of weddings or funerals…  I’m not a fan of baby showers either, if you must know the truth… I would rather have been anywhere else though, instead of listening to people talk about him in the past tense.  I’m not ready for the past tense.  Yet another thing about which I have no choice.

“You gave me a forever within the numbered days.”  John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

My Father’s Daughter

I am my father’s daughter.

I have his analytical mind, his skin that resists sunburns, his love of peas and his awkward smile in photographs.  I also have his asthma, his allergies and his appendicitis at the age of 27.  Our eyes both crinkle when we laugh. Just like him, I can save money like nobody’s business. We are both Virgos. Plain yellow mustard is where it is at.  I have his nose and his love of snow, although he loves driving in it and I don’t.

Dad and me in Michigan

 

I was one of those children who grew up with both of my parents, married for my entire life.

We went camping when I was a kid in the maxi-van that was converted into a camper, seeing Yellowstone and taking the ferry up to Alaska before driving back down to the states.  We went to Hawaii when I was 8, and Mexico when I was 9.  Like me, he remembers dates. We spent Christmas in a snowstorm in Michigan the year I was 13.

I was an insomniac at an early age, and my dad would lead me through an exercise of tensing up all my muscles in turn, and then shaking it off, so I could relax enough to fall asleep. He would get up in the middle of the night when I had nightmares, and soothe me back to sleep.  He let me sit on his lap in that big black Naugahyde chair while he watched the evening news and read the paper.

He taught me to play chess, checkers, Chinese checkers and Score Four.

He shared my love of photography.  On a trip to Yellowstone when I was 6 or 7, he let me use the camera to take any picture I wanted.  I couldn’t decide until I found the perfect subject.  An elk carcass.  He never told me no.  I still have that picture.  In high school, he gave me his old SLR camera and showed me how to use the timed exposure to photograph nighttime landscapes.

He cheered at my swim meets and hauled my horses to horse shows, even after he developed allergies to horses.  He caved when I wanted yet another cat, even though we are both allergic to cats. He petted them when we weren’t looking.

We went for bike rides on the weekends.  He and my mom grew a garden and dug potatoes and planted beets because I wanted them, even though neither of them like beets. He loved the corn.

Dad on a bike ride in Michigan

He got up at 5:20 am every day of his working life and made fried eggs for breakfast. In middle school my bus came early so we ate breakfast together in the mornings. I wasn’t allowed to come to the dinner table in my pajamas.

The day my horse was so badly injured when I was 16, he cried with me, and never made me feel badly when I vomited all over the floor of his classic 1968 Cougar.  He bought that Cougar new in 1968.  When I was young we pretended that the map light switch was a turbo thruster.  When I flipped it he would gun the engine up the hill towards home.

He needed routine and spontaneity made him uncomfortable.  I am my father’s daughter, although I am a bit more flexible.  If you needed him to do something, a few days’ notice was ideal.  The teenage years drove him nuts, when I wanted him to drive me somewhere on a moment’s notice.  He liked to do his Sudoku, read the paper, and watch his shows.  Clockwork.

He tried to tutor me on my math homework, even though he could never understand why I just didn’t get how multiplying two imaginary numbers made a real number.  He delighted in solving my extra credit algebra problems in college (you could use any and all methods at your disposal), and even cracked the one with ten variables and ten equations.  I was the only one who came in with the correct answer.  That said, proofreading my English papers was not his thing…

When my mom battled colon cancer 21 years ago, I saw a man who would have been devastated to lose her.  It was the second time I ever saw him cry.

He was proud of me when I got my Bachelor’s degree, even though he didn’t really understand what I would do with a degree in Spanish.  He was proud of me when I got my Master’s degree in business, and relieved that I had decided on something more practical.

In preschool, I sprouted a chestnut seed, and we planted the seedling in the back yard.  When my parents moved away from that house I grew up in when I was 25, and they had to cut down that now big tree, my father had a wood turner make two bowls from its trunk.  He gave me those bowls for Christmas.

He and my mom came to all my parties, met all my friends, and were always kind to them all.  I had the kind of house growing up that my friends wanted to hang out at.

My parents and me at my Aunt Elaine’s

He always made me laugh in those days before caller ID when I called and said, “Hi Dad,” and he responded with “Who’s this?”  I am his only daughter.

My parents and me at my wedding

When I got divorced, he quietly supported me, listening as I ranted and cried and broke.  It was the third time I saw my father cry.

When I told him that I wanted to build a bed in my car and camp in it for several months last summer, he designed a platform bed with legs that swung out of the way to access the storage underneath, and slide out shelves to hold my camp stove.  We took the seats out of my car and we built it together.

Dad and the Car Build

I am now a fatherless daughter.  My dad died unexpectedly on Tuesday morning, February 5.  There is no word to define a daughter who has lost a father, but I now join the ranks of all those other daughters who miss their dads.

Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but I am blessed to have had him.  It wasn’t enough time.  It was too soon.

I feel selfish; I got more from my dad than many daughters will ever receive.  But I still wanted more.  I am devastated to know that I may very well live more years without my dad than with him.

My heart is broken.  I will miss you forever, Dad.