Dad, Grief

365 Days.

One year ago today I received the last call regarding my Dad and his health. The one where the nurse very apologetically says, “Your Dad. He died some time in the night.”

He had died in his sleep as most kidney failure deaths occur. As the body becomes more riddled with toxins the periods of consciousness become shorter and shorter and the sleep becomes heavier and heavier. He had a strange bought of lucidness the night before where he told my brother he wasn’t dying and he needed to go home. While we had both read about this occurring as a last phase before death, we had a hard time really considering and instead did the foolish thing and let ourselves hope it was possibly true. Of course it wasn’t. And we knew that. And if we didn’t we weren’t given too long to hope, he had died less than 12 hours later.

My brother was already there in Knoxville so he was able to head straight to the hospice. I had to do what I had been preparing my family for: load everyone up in a millisecond and hit the road. The hospice had let me know that they would call me ASAP and that if I got on the road immediately, I could still come say Goodbye. They wouldn’t take him away yet. We had been packed for weeks and already had suits, dress clothes, and baby paraphernalia waiting in Knoxville from the many other trips I had made in the months prior.

Of course the drive was slow as we got behind wrecks and construction and everything possible to slow us down on the one day I needed to be able to aparate.

I said my goodbye to a body that no longer held my Dad but for some reason was symbolic enough that I just had to do it. Why was that so necessary, I’ll always wonder. I had said goodbye to the real him many times over those few months. When I had hugged him two days before I remember considering this as the final goodbye, the signs were there it wouldn’t be much longer. I had told him I loved him and squeezed his frail body as tight as I felt safe doing. So after that – why was I so desperate to say Goodby to the shell that had once held him? I don’t know. But I did. And I’ll be forever glad I did because it gave a stark reality to the daze of death. I was very glad I had that image in the months to come when I would sometimes convince myself he was no longer gone.

I don’t do that anymore.

I know he’s gone. It still hurts, but I don’t have moments that I doubt it anymore. I still struggle with him not being here. There are so many things he’s missing I knew he would just love. His granddaughter playing t-ball – and playing it well. Just like she did soccer. He would love to see what having an athletic daughter looks like. One that seems to have some sort of basic talent for sports that I never had. And LilZ’s musical? He would eat up all of the stories of rehearsals and set-builds and costume sessions. I know he would find this all as fascinating as I do as it’s something he never experienced as a child or as a parent and as reserved of a Man as he was – he still loved learning and experiencing new pockets of life. He would have loved hearing about this theater community we’re now a part of and he would have wished he could have been here to lend a hand. He would most certainly been here to see the show and would have guffawed over his grandson dancing and singing on stage because he would have been thinking the same thing I think every time, “Well…he didn’t get that talent from our side of the family.”

I’m spending the day doing things that make me think of him. One last time, I have said. I have mourned the entire year in MY way. In a way I know he would have hated. He begged us to move on long before he died. He didn’t want us spending time going through his house (“Just throw a stick of dynamite in there and run!”) or crying over his things. He didn’t want us to cry at all. He wanted us to stay in our own towns with our own lives and let him die alone. We couldn’t do that, of course, but it shows how little he wanted his death to affect us. The problem was, of course, he was too brilliant of a father for that to happen. He raised us by himself, creating a bond between Dad and children that couldn’t just be disintegrated without leaving a few wounds.

But today? If I thought he was watching me I’d say he was spending the day rolling his eyes in frustration. I’m going to spend the first half of the day doing things that will most surely make me cry. A lot. And he would most certainly want to punch me in the face for that. But, as he would be the first to admit, I was never one to ever do things HIS way. He died with the head full of gray hairs to prove that.

I love you and miss you, Dad. In ways I never knew were possible. I know you wouldn’t want me crying as much as I have, but know that every tear I shed is because you were just that great of a Daddy. The little girl inside of me who looked to you for protection and safety can’t forget that easily. And the adult who looked to you for strength and guidance will most surely never forget.

Pumpkin Patch Place
One of my favorite pictures because it shows where I got my habit of playing on the things designed for children.

41 thoughts on “365 Days.”

  1. Zoot, I have been following you for years, including this last one. I cannot imagine how it is to have to grieve your father at such a young age and during a time in life when you want him to see your own family grow. I hope you have a peaceful day, a day with some celebration of the life that raised you and helped shape you into the very awesome person and mother that you are. I will be thinking about you today.

  2. Hey Zoot,

    I lost my Grandma about a year and a half ago, I know it’s not the same as losing a parent but I know it hurts. I know that somedays, something will happen and I’ll be like I’ve got to tell Grandma about that, she’ll laugh the house down – but she’s not there πŸ™
    My Dad had to do the whole be strong for everyone else but I could tell that he was hurting really bad. (ISSUES! I’m getting all choked up!)

    I send mahooosive hugs to you and your family! How did LilZ’s performance go (or is he still rehearsing?!)

    Han πŸ™‚

  3. Kim, I know this is a hard day for you. It never gets easy, but it does get easier. I’ll be thinking about you today, too.

  4. One thing parents can’t teach their children is how to mourn their passing. I’ve been touched by your chronicles of grief this year.

    I know our beliefs aren’t the same, but I’m praying for you today, and have been throughout this year.

    Much love to you.

  5. I’m shedding a few tears for you and your family today Zoot. Your posts about your Dad are always beautiful and inspiring. Today is your day to live the way you need to.

  6. I’m so proud of you. I’m so glad that you honored him in YOUR way and that you let yourself grieve in YOUR way and at your pace and that you’re putting that out there because in the world of grief I think there are a lot of “shoulds” thrown around and I really love that you’ve let yourself do it your way. Thinking about you today – good energy is something you just can’t have enough of.

  7. And what a year it has been. All I can wish for you that as the years go by easier your grief will get easier to deal with. Thinking of you today.

  8. Thinking of you today. I bet he really wouldn’t want to punch you in the face — I’m sure hs’d be proud of the woman you are and let you go through this process in the way that _you_ need to.

  9. I know today will be really hard for you, as this whole year has been. Your words beautifully honor your Dad, and your honesty in dealing with the pain in losing a parent – my heart hurts, reading them.

  10. In my life there is usually something that happens during a show that reminds me my father is still watching my children and sending them the sign that they were very much loved, and he was so proud of them. It may be something as small as a penny on the ground that wasn’t there, a tigger on a hat, or a spoken word that he used. Your father sounds like he would do the same. Your son deserved the “hooty-hoo” he received last night many times over. He is a hard worker, but he always has a smile. He learned this from you and you in turn learned it from your father. Those are the moments we look up and say “Thank you for being in my life”.

  11. Thinking of you on this difficult day. You do things your way and I think — as much as he might be rolling his eyes — your father would understand that.

  12. I’m always deeply touched by anything you write about your dad. It’s clear what an awesome father he was and what an awesome daughter you are. I’ll have you in my thoughts today.

  13. You made me cry, too. So at least you’re not alone in the leaky eyes department πŸ˜› You do your dad great credit, Kim.

  14. Your Dad would be upset with me because I am crying. I have a great Daddy and would handle everything the same as you describe if he were to pass. I will be thinking of you today and hope you find some comfort. I am so sorry.

  15. This is a beautiful post and gives great tribute to your dad. He may not want you to cry, but he can be proud of a daughter who still loves him very much.

  16. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today…I know it’s going to be a rough one…

    To quote “Yo Gabba Gabba” – “think happy thoughts, happy thoughts…that’s what you gotta do”…

    I know, that was dumb, but…

    PS – I never realized how much your dad looked like Harrison Ford – especially in that picture!

  17. I am sorry, Kim. I just cannot seem to say that enough, this past year.

    I am glad that you were able to say goodbye. Manoj debated whether to go back to India in January, and i pushed him to do it because I do think there is something very real, very important in saying goodbye.

    It seems that the first year is simply the hardest in the grief process and that while the grief never goes away, it does ease a big after that first year. I hope this holds true for you.

    Also, I hope you don’t stop the tributes and memories of your dad here. I think it is important to get these down in writing so they are never forgotten.


  18. :'( he was that great of a daddy. he did that great of a job w/ you and chris.

  19. Thinking of you and your family today… I can tell from your entries what an amazing dad he was.

  20. Hey girl! I’ve been reading since just before you lost your dad. I just love the way you put these things on your blog. If only I could express my thoughts and feelings the way you do.

    As you know we lost my grandfather late last year to kidney failure after years of dialysis. You put it perfectly at how they go and I’m so thankful for that. Thanks for your help during that difficult time when I was wondering what to expect and you told me.

    Love your blog! Can’t wait to see you cooking again πŸ™‚

  21. Zoot,

    For me it has been 792 days. 792 without my dad in the world with me. I am sure my dad is looking down on me right now and he feels sad because I am still so sad. I recently started going to therapy because I just don’t know how to deal with it anymore, along with my confusion over how he was when I was a teenager and how he was the 2-3 years before he died (completely different people). (I’m writing a blog about it because my husband pointed out that it might really help other people in the same situation. So I write. LULZ! Sorry, that was lame.)

    I feel a sisterhood with you now. We are half orphans. We are daddyless. We are sad because we love our daddies, and they don’t want us to be sad because they love us. And, unfortunately, we are in a situation where we can’t stop missing them.

    I don’t know what else to say. I think it’s beautiful you are spending your day doing daddy things.

  22. I have been thinking about you all day… I just want to say grieve it your way girl.. I seriously do not think there is a right or wrong way to do it… And yes your dad probably was rolling his eyes at you today, and that visual makes me smile. Losing someone that close to you sucks royally and we all just work our way through it slowly and hopefully come out on top…

    Love you and sending hugs your way….

  23. Very touching post. I remember it all last year and I am sure it has been a tough road. You had one heck of a Dad it sounds like! I hope your day is filled with great memories.

  24. Your dad, from all I’ve read about him while following your blog – sounds like he was amazing. The way you write about him… thanks to this, someday I want to be just as good a parent to kids I may have.

  25. Kim–

    Reading your post today really helped me. My mom just died February 23, 2010–and sometimes I almost let myself forget. Last night my Kolby did something really cute and I thought about picking up the phone and calling her. She always loved to hear about the kids and the funny or sweet things they did. Sometimes I almost let myself pretend that she is still here. I guess that’s just a normal part of the grief process. Big internet hugs to you.

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