Warning: Grab the tissues.
As I looked ahead to the rest of the week I realized that this #ThursdaysWithTina fell on the second anniversary of my Father’s passing. I thought about writing about it. I started scribbling down the words. And then, I stopped. I support full disclosure and part of my original promise as The Jeweler’s Wife was to be, above all else, honest. That said, there was a part of me that wasn’t ready to go there.
Until today. Until I picked up the phone to hear that a friend had also lost his Dad.
After hearing the news, my mind started to spin. I thought to myself, what could I do for the family? How can I support them? It was decided. I would send a card. Great, but then, what do I write? Are there even words?
I let my mind wander and continued to go back to one theme – welcome to the club. The club that no one wants to join. The one that involves losing a parent.
What a terrible thought, but I couldn’t remove myself from it. As we enter our late 30’s and early 40’s, losing a parent becomes all too common. Sadly, it becomes new normal.
When my dad was sick our hospice nurse told us, “normal is only a setting on a washing machine.” She was right. Once you’ve joined ‘the club’ you want to want to believe that everyone is operating on the same setting as you, but it’s just not the case. Life continues to move around you. At times it doesn’t make sense. At times it’s so, so frustrating. Looking back to when I entered ‘the club’, I remember many moments where I wanted to look people in the eyes and scream, “do you realize I just lost a parent?” I wanted the world to pause. To reflect on what mattered. To grieve with me.
As my Dad’s health declined, we knew the time was coming. Fortunately, I was to be able to step away from work and spend his last three months with him. Those are the days that I wouldn’t trade for anything. As we all sat together in those last days he shared stories, many of which we had never heard before. He gave us more insight into who he was, the life he had lived and as a result helped us better understand ourselves.
Observing my father, I started to realize just how fast time really moves. While I couldn’t slow down the clock, I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to tell him how great of a father he was, to give him that one last hug and to tell him that I loved him. For that I am eternally grateful. Many people don’t get that chance.
This week we will visit the cemetery and release butterflies at my father’s grave. It’s become a tradition that we’ve kept since his funeral. For us, it’s a great reminder of the life that he lived and symbolizes his pain, finally being set free. I know he probably looks down at laughs at us, but it’s our way of coping. It’s our way of dealing with ‘the club’ that we unwillingly joined.
To my friend, that’s what I will write. Find your way to cope. Do what it takes to find peace. While ‘the club’ doesn’t necessarily get easier, learn to be comfortable with the new normal. Share the stories. Remember the moments. Help them live on as best as you can.