I've been pretty weepy lately. It could be a million things but it's made it a little hard to blog about much lately. You'd either get the totally horrendous version of me or the very hilarious version of me. And neither are really the truth right now. So, you're getting nothing'. ;)
But on my mind (and conveniently I can type about this because I'm procrastinating on the billion other things I'm supposed to be doing to prep for tomorrow) is yesterday. Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of my dad's death. I remember that first year after he died. The milestones hung out like huge boulders signifying another day walked without him. I counted 7 days -- one week. Four weeks -- one month. Two months. Three months. One year. I didn't think I could take it. I couldn't even imagine my life five years out. But 13? Never in a million years could I imagine myself here, now, with so much less pain than I felt then.
It used to be that I would count the days until the next milestone. I would flip the calendar to "April" and think about the slightly-less-than-four weeks I had to mentally prepare myself for the Big Day. This time I gave it a few fleeting thoughts as I knew it was "APRIL" but for some reason I got slapped in the face with the actual date mid-morning. I hate when I do that. I really prefer it when I go to sleep remembering that tomorrow is the day and I can wake up prepared to not be sucker-punched in the gut because I've pushed it to the back of my mind.
That first Big Day I took the day off work. I tentatively called a few family members, making small talk and asking eventually "Are you OK today?" dripping with the heaviest of implications. Each one knew exactly why I had called and answered in their own way. My dumb brother -- did he actually say "yeah, whatever"? I can't remember but it was something equally noncommittal, if it wasn't that. Then again, what do you expect from a 14-year-old? I stopped by my favorite ice cream shop (couldn't actually hit Baskin-Robbins, Dad, sorry!) and took my journal to one of my favorite gardens waaay up the hill. I found a secluded spot; I sat and cried and looked out across the great expanse and had our little chat. Don't worry, I don't really talk to dead people but it made me feel better. :) Years later my future husband proposed to me near that same park. It's a special place.
Year Five it worked out so that I was together with my mom. We went to a special old-time family spot, enjoying the view and specifically remembering Dad. It was sweet, and it was huge.
Now my mom is remarried. I'm married. I have kids. I have this list of things I've accomplished that he wasn't here to share in. Life is different and other interesting people, things, and hobbies have come to fill in the empty gash that he left; a gash of varied shape but that each of us in the family has in some way. I read "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis a million times. I've searched the sadness of my memories and cry any time someone else tells me they have lost a dear one to death. It doesn't matter if I know the deceased, but somehow my tender heart can mourn with them.
I wouldn't be like that if I hadn't lost my dad -- and eventually both grandfathers, an uncle, two cousins, and a few friends -- in rapid succession. Who are you? How did you become who you are? Are you soft and tender-hearted? (Even under that tough guy, rugged shell?) Do you know without a doubt that the important people in your life KNOW they are important? Are you "ready to go"? Just because you're ready doesn't mean you will actually, um, kick the bucket. It's just called "being prepared." Do you go in to a gun battle without preparation? I don't think so.
The only thing that's certain in life is death. Do you live without regret? We mostly live as though life is certain and death is uncertain, but that's completely wrong. It will be much more difficult to forgive or reconcile or truly live if one of the involved parties is... dead. I know I'm being extremely blunt but it's true. If there is one gift you can give yourself, this can be it. Do you know how freeing this can be to know that you did the right thing when time was up? You can call your mom THIS SECOND and tell her how much you appreciate her. Yeah, she's your mom and maybe she did kind of screw you up but she gave birth to you and cared for you in ways which you cannot comprehend. Or go call someone else. Write a note. Skip the email, write it in your own chicken scratch. Your mom/dad/aunt/uncle/cousin/friend/grandparent/super friend will thank you.
Did you already miss your chance to make it right with someone who is now gone? Well, buck up, my friend. Know that you can move forward and have a choice -- you can make the same mistake twice (or three times or four times) or you can work more diligently to get it right this time.
12 hours ago