I was told yesterday as we sat outside with our toes in the sand and tacos and beer between us, the sense of loss I feel all the time doesn’t usually bubble up until today.
So, we were a day early yesterday hosting our annual celebration of life lunch. I woke this morning, and it hasn’t hit me yet. Not like a ton of bricks anyway. It’s there though. Almost like a cloud over my head. Eeyore’s voice saying he’s okay when everyone really knows he’s not. The images are still there. The moments. The tears. The long talk before his final breath. The Temptations song on the radio – the one I can’t place anymore. It’s all there.
And there is another sense of loss too. The idea that someone alive is also gone. Dead. Out of reach. That’s there too. This is why I gather friends each year to celebrate life instead of sitting and mourning. Because I have so much good in my world right now, so much I wish I could share with my dad. But he’s not here.
I reached out to a good friend yesterday and started the conversation off with, ‘This is a problem I’d normally ask my dad about before anyone. I called my mom, and she was helpful. But I need to ask you too.’
You see, we can still live. We can carry on. And we can recognize where we are when we are there and what kind of support we need, even when our support is gone.
In the six years since losing my dad, my little redhead has grown to a smart, curious, eager young man who still has my father’s grin and hair. My youngest daughter shares her deepest secrets with me, and it’s this kind of communication that took me years to accomplish with my father, but it’s also the kind of communication we had all through my adult years. My oldest is now a teenager in high school – with a boyfriend. My world has been turned upside down and is starting to settle, but these past two years, I needed my dad more than ever. The fact that I am still here and still thriving, still striving to be the best I can tells me my dad did a good job. He raised me with integrity. With respect. With kindness.
He’s not here today. But he – and my mother, but she’s here and I still lean on her – set me up to live. To live beyond their influence, beyond their lives, beyond his last breath.
Six years after telling him I will be okay, and he could go, I can say with all honesty, I am okay.
I miss him with everything I am. But I give him credit he deserves because I am okay.
I am okay.
We all suffer great losses. Death. Divorce. Empty Nest. Sobriety.
A new life.
A new life is on the other side.
If you’re like me, often in a dark place, often missing what you once had, missing someone, wondering what could have been, wishing someone could see you now, wondering how to carry on after this huge change, just move. Just move. Forward. Sideways. Up and down. Move. Each day. Every day. Move.
This is life.
We live. We lose. But while we are still here, we can carry on. And we can do it with an intensity we’ve never had before.