Posts Tagged ‘sad stuff’

I say it a lot without thinking or even really meaning it,  “I wish that…”

But I don’t wish.  Not really anyway.

I do wish he was here though. With everything in me I wish he could have met Rowan, Keaton and Ezra. I’m sure he and Rowan would have charmed each other with made-up stories and their shared superior negotiating skills. I’m sure he and Keaton would have love-love-loved to tell silly jokes to each other and play catch out on the front hill and basketball in the drive-way. They would have been best buddies. And when he met Ezra I’m sure all anyone would have said to him was Look! He’s got your hair, Grandpa Garry! Because he does, Dad. He has the long, fluffy, blond Norwegian hair that could only have come from you and when I look at it, it makes me happy and sad, all mashed together at the same time.

The reality is, I’m not so sure about any of this. Before my dad died I didn’t want anything to do with starting a family for years. No, really. YEARS. Bill and I made a tentative five year plan, but it was more of a check-point than a ‘we’ll for sure have kids in five years’ sort of thing. The whole reason we had planned to get married that summer {by what is pretty young by today’s standards} was because we wanted to move out to California as soon as humanly possible, as that is home base to all the cool digital creative companies that Bill wanted to get in at and we were more than ready to strike out of Minnesota.

Then he died. And everything changed. I was only 23 and life stretched out before me endlessly up to that point, until all of a sudden… it didn’t. Fifty-nine years seemed horribly short, terrifyingly unfair. He was so close to watching me graduate college. But he missed it. He was so close to walking me down the aisle. But he missed it.

The old “Life is short” adage became painfully, heartbreakingly true and the importance of knowing your family replaced any need for the career driven, lazy weekend mornings, life of a newly married twenty-something I had envisioned. It certainly didn’t help that my mom was older by the time I came along so, yeah, it’s morbid but I wanted my kids to know her before she was gone too.

The time between my dad’s death and when I got pregnant was exactly one year. It was by far the worst year of my life. I came home from work. Drank. Smoked a thousand cigarettes. And cried. It was not pretty. Hot mess doesn’t even begin to describe it. The landscape of all of our lives, of our family, had completely changed. We lost him so suddenly that my emotions just could not catch up with the reality of life without him. It was then followed by nine months of puking and agonizing over a baby I was not at all prepared to have… only it turns out I was. And Rowan turned something back on in me that had gone off on December 6th, 2003 and it has only burned hotter and brighter each year since.

So I’d like to think all those wonderful things about my dad and my kids would be our reality if he were still with us, but the thing is… I don’t think they’d be here if he hadn’t gone. Do I think we would have eventually had kids? Sure. Do I think my dad would have loved those kids? Sure. But they wouldn’t be these kids. They wouldn’t be Rowan and Keaton and Ezra. We had a completely different life mapped out before us, one that involved us living several states away, so even if we would have had kids sooner it wouldn’t have been the same.

With the shape life has taken, with the path we did end up following, I still allow myself to imagine what it would be like if he was here to watch my family unfold. And it makes me happy. And it makes me sad. And there are those goddamn mixed up emotions again. But I expect it now because the truth of it is that his death was the catalyst to my life as I know it. And for that I am so sad, but so, so grateful.

Still though. I wish.

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My dad had been looking forward to that day for weeks. A grouse hunting trip somewhere in North Dakota with a work colleague. He was out the door in the very early hours of the morning; made it through the car ride to to North Dakota, a big breakfast and stepped out into a snow covered field where he had planned to enjoy the peace, the quiet of nature, a man and his gun.

The way I remember it being told, and forgive me on the details because I honestly try not to think about this, he aimed and took a shot at a grouse, which he missed. He smiled and made a joke to his friend about how he thought the bird was flying crooked, he must have clipped his wing at least.

And then his heart stopped. Or exploded, depending on who you ask. Most likely he was in another place entirely before the body that carried him for 59 years, 9 and a half months, hit the ground. He could have had the MI in the waiting room of an ER and it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.

I didn’t find out until 4 hours later. And long into the early hours of the next morning, I kept asking myself how could I not have known? Why didn’t I feel him gone? It’s stupid I know. Of course I couldn’t have known but something in me just could not understand how one of the most important people in my life could have slipped away without it registering somewhere in me. I didn’t feel him leave my life. I should have known.

I think I entered the bargaining stage relatively fast. You see for me, like most, denial hit pretty hard. Even before the shock wore off, a small voice was telling me     No. It’s not him. This is ridiculous. I saw him yesterday.

He put his hand on my cheek.    Said goodnight.     I love you.

I don’t think I even looked away from the movie I was watching. Maybe I did. Did I watch him walk up the stairs? Out of my life? I can’t remember now. So you see? He can’t just be dead, not even 24 hours later. I got to hold on to this denial longer than most because it took them nearly 2 days to transport his body. Up until that point I think we all held on to the ridiculous, the absurd. The notion that someone had made a mistake.

Only there he was. Or more accurately, there he wasn’t. My experience with dead bodies up to that point was almost non-existent. I wasn’t prepared for the simple truth that a dead body is a thing. Just a thing. Inanimate. Sure it carries more meaning to you than the lamp illuminating it but for all intents and purposes, they belong in the same category. Still. Those were the hands that held mine. The arms that embraced me. The mouth that sang ridiculous songs and told terrible, unforgivably corny jokes that I tried my hardest not to smile at, almost never succeeding.

And so the bargaining began. Staring into the flames inside of the wood stove at my mom’s, unable to sleep… where are you. Where are you. Where are you. Over and over. Sometimes in my head. Sometimes out loud. Fine, you left us. Fine, you’re not here. Tell me. Tell me where you are. I won’t tell anyone else. I’ll keep the secret. Just tell me where you are. I have to know. I have to know where you are. That need to know was the biggest thing I had ever felt in my life up to that point.

The funeral and the burial were sad, but important rites to help us deal with the loss. But I still couldn’t stop focusing on where he went. My father taught me how to negotiate at a tender age and now, after years and years of honing this skill it wasn’t working. Why wasn’t he answering me? Or perhaps more importantly, why wasn’t He answering me? I was in a loss. I was at a loss.

Life goes on. In six months I would be married. In less than 2 years I would be a mother. My heart, which had balled itself protectively tight on the day he died, stretched itself out bigger and wider than I ever thought possible. So much love. So much life.

But still, when I can’t sleep, my brain refusing to turn off, I feel the question pushing itself out. Only it’s not a question anymore. Just a statement. One that ultimately brings me no comfort, yet is comforting to say.

Where are you.

*The outline for this post has been sitting in my draft folder for well over a year under this title. I’ve grown attached to it.

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I was originally editing some photos I took this weekend so I could quick post them because I really wasn’t thinking when I put up a bunch of pictures of human waste. Opening my blog to be greeted by the contents of my son’s bladder is, well…EW.

Then I got some really sad, really shitty news this morning and my pictures took on a whole new meaning. After only being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 4 months ago, the DCFI’s dad, Dave, passed away this morning.  Suddenly these pictures represent a whole lot more than just a random late afternoon in October.

Please keep Jay and his family in your thoughts and prayers this week, especially Jay’s mom Mavis. Dave and Mavis just celebrated 44 years of marriage on the 10th of this month and have built a truly wonderful life together. We wish all of them love and strength as they navigate through this incredibly sad time.

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