Grief can hit you out of nowhere when you least expect it. Often times it hits me in the most inconvenient of times. A waiting room, the grocery check out line, a restaurant because someone or something reminds you of what's missing.
In 2015 I lost my dad to cancer. It’s been 4 years and although that sounds like a long time, it feels like hardly any time has passed. Most days I think of him and I’m no longer filled with an immense amount of sadness, tears, or the overwhelming realization that he is no longer here. But from time to time there are moments or days when it hits me and it all comes flooding back like it was just yesterday. Today is one of those days. It’s been a while since it has hit me quite like this. The tears start flowing and they just don’t stop. It’s a release of pent up emotions that most times I don’t have time for and I stuff it away somewhere and say nope not today. Well, today is a day that it all came flooding out and there is no holding it in or saving it for another day. I am mad that he is gone. Mad that he had to suffer like he did. Mad that my family had to watch him grow weaker and weaker. Mad that my mom lost her best friend and husband of 34 years. I’m sad that he never got to meet my children. Sad that I never get to see their faces light up and run to Grandpa. Sad that I don’t get to share with him all the new things going on in our life and to see the family of mine. Sad I don’t get to talk with him about my fears or accomplishments. Sad that life doesn’t go the way that we expect. Just plain sad.
These emotions are normal and healthy. It's holding it in and stuffing it away that I know isn’t healthy but I'm stubborn. I hate to let them out because then I feel. I feel it all and it hurts, it hurts bad. Grief is a process. A long process that doesn’t happen overnight or even in a couple of years. It’s personal and it’s intimate. There’s no perfect way to grieve anyone or anything you’ve lost. I’ve come to an acceptance of sorts if you can call it that. Most days I live my life in the busy mom hussle with my boys, my job, a wife, and running a household. My dad slips into my mind frequently and I hope that never changes, but I’ve come to a new normal and I know in that new normal he isn't here. It feels different actually writing that out than just knowing it. It makes it overwhelming when I hear myself actually say it. On days like today when I am grieving, I miss him terribly. My family was close. We grew up living overseas in different countries, traveling to amazing places that I now realize was the most amazing blessing he could’ve given his children. I had the opportunity to create memories and have experiences not many people get to have. All of these memories include my Dad. In the days leading up to my wedding my dad took me to breakfast. I remember him telling me how he felt as though he didn’t spend enough time with us as children and that was his one regret. I reassured him that he was there, he was present and he far exceeded my expectations as a dad. From that day on I tried to always let him know that I appreciated every moment, every opportunity, and I never once felt he was absent or could’ve done any better. I hope he knew how much I meant that and was able to let that guilt go.
Before my dad passed away in June of 2015 I had already experienced a multitude of loss. Between January of 2014 and January of 2015 I suffered three miscarriages. Logan and I had decided to try and get pregnant when my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 unaware of the long road of infertility that was ahead of us. In September 2014 Logan took a job in Dallas, Texas and I was thrilled because that brought us back from North Dakota and much closer to our family. My dad was becoming more sick so I spent most of my weekends driving the four hours to Houston and back so that I could be with him. Through this time we found a fabulous Reproductive Endocrinologist who diagnosed me with NK Cell Hyperactivity. We learned that my uterus had overactive Natural Killer Cells that would attack the embryo and therefore, I would have a miscarriage. We chose to move forward with IVF so that I could receive the proper treatment for this type of autoimmune issue and only hope that it would work and we would be able to stay pregnant. While going through IVF my dad's cancer was becoming more aggressive. When we moved to Dallas I didn’t get a job or look for work because all my extra time was spent driving to and from Houston to be with family. June 9th 2015 I drove to Houston for what would end up being the final time I would get to see my dad. The entire drive down to Houston I was filled with emotions. That morning I had left the doctor with an ultrasound picture in hand of one beautiful baby growing in my belly with a strong heartbeat. I was over the moon excited to be able to share this news with my dad especially. I still remember this moment and his reaction it was so special to me. I wasn’t sure I would ever get to share the news with him and it meant everything to me. I had no idea that this trip was going to be the one. The one I knew was eventually coming but we truly did not expect that this was it. Six days later my dad took his final breath and was at peace in the arms of Jesus. My world as I knew it was gone.
I was 8 weeks pregnant with my son when my dad died. I’m not quite sure how to explain this next part. It brings me both comfort and sadness. As my dad’s body failed him and his heart stopped beating, my son’s heart was beating fast and strong inside of me. I was growing new life while watching my dad's slip away. It was bittersweet. They would never meet each other but that moment was somewhat powerful for me in a way I can’t quite describe. We named our first son James after my dad. It was my husband who matter of fact said his name would be James. He was named after a great man. Although they never met in this life, James often talks about Grandpa and seeing him in his dreams. He doesn’t quite understand why Grandpa can’t just come back from Heaven. I wish his innocence would remain sweet and simple forever.
To be continued...