Dad, Grief

That Time Of Year

3 years ago, I was spending a lot of time in Knoxville dealing with my (suddenly) dying father. This time of year is still hard on me because I spend a lot of moments thinking, “This time three years ago I was…” It all happened so suddenly that those weeks in February and March 2009 etched a permanent spot of anxiety in my heart and it’s hard not to look at the calendar and think about those days. The days in the hospital finding out his body was ravaged with cancer, the days at home as he came to the conclusion that he couldn’t continue with dialysis or chemotherapy. Then the weeks in hospice, everyone just…waiting.

I still miss him so much. I called my brother a few weeks ago and said, “I just did something I really wish I could call and tell Dad about, so you’re getting the call instead…” I do that often. At first I thought it was because I knew he would understand that need, as he would call Dad to tell him certain things too. But then I realized it’s because he’s a lot like Dad in that he’s sincerely interested in hearing about these new adventures, but he’s BETTER than Dad because he’ll actually talk back on the phone. As much as I loved my Dad, he was a DREADFUL phone person.

But those weeks in February and March, especially the ones he spent in hospice, were so hard that I often look back and wonder: HOW DID I SURVIVE?

But most of the times I think about my present and wonder: HOW AM I SURVIVING?

Because, while the pain of his death is not as raw or as fresh, the pain of missing him is still so strong. And it’s a different type of pain. The pain of losing him is the one that has faded over the last 3 years, but the pain of missing him? That pain seems to grow stronger. As the list of things he is missing grows, my agony over not sharing those things with him strengthens. And while it’s not a debilitating pain like the initial loss, it’s one that seems ever-present. It is always a part of me.

So, yes, time does heal that raw pain that death brings. But there’s another pain that strengthens…the pain of absence. The pain of knowing that another musical is coming and going without being witnessed by my Dad. The momentous achievements of my family are building up and will soon outweigh the achievements that he was alive to witness. He’ll never see E on stage. He’ll never get to feel the glory of a Wes hug. He’ll never get to see Nikki dork out over learning addition. I’ll never call him to tell him about trail running. This is the pain that will never fade. And certain times of year, or certain moments in life, I’m acutely aware of how the pain is growing.

And when all of those moments he’s missing occur during the 2 months I think of him and his death the most? Then that pain outlines every moment of every day. I close my eyes and fight back tears. Not the same tears of loss that I cried when he died, but the tears of longing that I cry when the hole in my heart that he left behind is aching to be filled.

10 thoughts on “That Time Of Year”

  1. I lost my daughter after 2.5 days of life in November. Everything you wrote about the pain is so true that I had to stop and write it. Type it.
    Grief is universal and I hate it.

  2. I know exactly what you mean.
    My mom died 17 years ago and while the pain is not raw anymore there are times when I wish she was here so I caould talk to her.


  3. I’m sorry. I know my father’s birthday is always a difficult time for me. Time passes, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like any time has passed at all.

  4. Very well said. The pain of death heals but the pain of absence strengthens. You put into words exactly what I feel. Thank you. I grieve all the time over the fact that my dad is missing watching the girls grow up. I know he loved every minute of it. I grieve the most that they (as well as myself) are missing the warmth, love and peace that he brought to our lives. It is about to be 4 years since my dad passed and I realize that soon he will have been gone half of Rachel’s life. I miss him so very much.

  5. I agree with the first commenter. I made it halfway through your post and all I can say is I can relate. We lost our first daughter at birth.

    Lately it seems like I miss her more than ever. The pain of losing her has kind of faded but now yea big hole. Very sad.

  6. Hugs. I lost my Mom in June this summer and some days it just comes out of left field.

    So, I’ve been reading you for years now. When something like that happens, everyone tells that it’ll get better, it’ll get easier, etc. And it’s cold comfort, but I want you know that even though I don’t knoooow you, in the messy few weeks after my mom passed, I would remind myself of people who I knew “made it” through those initial awful weeks and somehow managed to find their own way to function and pick themselves up. You know, like I would say “well, friend A managed to get through it, and my boss made it through it, etc. And I always included you in that count too. Zoot managed to make it through, so I could do, and it’d be hard and messy but I’d find a way.

    I’m not sure if that made much sense, but I hope you can get the sentiment. Thank you for blogging about the grieving process. It really does mean a lot to read something and be able to sit up straight in your chair and say “THAT, YES, THAT. RIGHT. I GET THAT!”

    So, thank you, and I’m thinking of you!

  7. My dad died suddenly three years ago as well (well it will be in June) I find that each year the ache changes. it definitely isnt as raw as it was when it first happened, but that dull ache can be just as painful somedays. The picture associated with this post is really personal to me as well–I have my Dad’s 40 year old Frye boots standing in the corner of back room and it gives me comfort knowing that they are in my house (not sure if that part makes sense) It’s awful that grief is one of those emotions that unites us all.

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