Three years ago I had to say goodbye. I wasn’t ready then. I’m not sure that I’m entirely okay now. It’s not that I hadn’t experienced loss before then. I had. Three times. Three people important to me, and (even if I hadn’t said it out loud) each so close to my heart. 2006. 2009. 2009. Each loss indelibly etched on my heart.
Three years ago though, I had to say goodbye to my father. The person who in my mind, regardless of age or time, seemed invincible. This one literally brought me to my knees. This was a pain so intense, at times it felt difficult to breathe. It’s been three years, and I haven’t spoken about this yet. I can’t. The mere thought of vocalizing that it actually happened or how I feel… it makes my chest feel so heavy, and my throat constricts. I’ve tried over the last year, to put some of what’s been going on in my head and heart in writing – my form of expression and therapy. I’ve attempted this blog post so many times, but I’ve never been able to get further than an opening sentence or two. Today, I’m trying again. I can’t promise that it will flow all that smoothly, or be entirely coherent. But I can promise to be honest and share as much as I’m able to.
The thing is, I’d never realized that grief could feel like this; that pain could stay with a person for this long. Even now, I remember exactly what it was like in the hospital. I can feel the cold in the hallway, and as much as I wish I didn’t, I can still hear the doctor’s words. I remember wanting to run as far as I could, and I remember my legs failing me. I remember the moment my heart shattered into a million pieces. And I remember seeing the same disbelief and heartache on my baby girl’s little face only a few minutes later. All I could do was hold her close and cry with her.
In a small way, time has proven to be the healer that they say it is. My heart hurts every day, but the crippling anguish I felt in the beginning has now been replaced by a slightly more bearable pain that washes over me whenever a memory comes into focus. It’s not about special days or events for me, it happens everyday. It’s when I’m cooking something that no one can cook quite like him, or when Zee asks a question that only he would’ve been able to answer.
Shawn and I would call him our very own Google, because he possessed the most impressive wealth of knowledge. Whenever Zee came to us with a question that baffled us, our response was that we’d have to check with him. Oh my Zee. My heart hurts most for my child. The two of them were the best of friends. The bond they shared from day one, was so special. And the thought of him not being there to see her grow up is almost too much to bear.
Then there’s the feelings of guilt and shame – there are people who’ve lost loved ones more recently than I have, or people who’ve lost someone younger – so what right do I have still feeling this way, or writing about it for that matter? But then I read something. Grief is different for everyone. Some may be okay after a few weeks, others only after many years. It helped me realize that I can’t beat myself up for not being okay yet. We may have experienced the same thing, but our experiences are not the same. I am healing, but I’m not okay yet. And that’s okay.
Still I find myself overthinking, trying to reason with myself on why I feel the way I do, for as long as I have. Here’s what I keep coming back to: In life, there are some people who truly care about you and love you. The number of people who will love you unconditionally though, is significantly lower. You could most likely count them on one hand, and to lose one of them is beyond excruciating.
This is where I find myself now. Dealing (or at least trying to deal) with the loss of someone who loved me, loved my little family, unconditionally. My father, my friend, my teacher. He wasn’t perfect – no human is – but he was a wonderful father; the most incredible grandfather to my little girl; the one who loved my husband as his own son. I had to say goodbye; we had to say goodbye, and it may be difficult for a while still, but I’m so grateful for the time we had with him. There’s still so much so say – about what this time has taught me, and all that I’m thankful for – I’ll try again soon to find the words.