365 days, countless crying episodes, hours and hours and hours of reflection, thousands of words written and a few thousand more spoken, hundreds of hugs given, and yes, about a million beers ago, my dad died. I can't believe it's been an entire year. But as my brother said this morning, I can't believe it's ONLY been a year. It seems like a different life.
I expected this to be a long, emotional trip around the sun and it certainly lived up to that expectation. In a major way. What I didn't expect were a multitude of silver linings. As I find myself a lot less rough around the edges than I was when this journey began, I'm able to see the
bright side more clearly.
I grew to appreciate my children even more than before as their light and joy brought me comfort and happiness, even on my saddest days.
I gained a much deeper understanding of the human experience through the illness, death, and grief I experienced front and center.
New relationships began that continue today and I realized a strengthening of bonds with those whom I thought I couldn't become more closely attached.
I feel certain that I can handle just about anything life throws my way because I handled this. I didn't do it gracefully. I didn't do it with ease. But I did it. I survived it.
In short, losing my Dad has been the absolute worst but hey, at least it made me into a more capable, understanding, connected and evolved human being.
You know, like being WITH HIM always did.
Of course, I miss him and I always and forever will but I can look at his picture and smile. I can think about him and laugh. I can tell my new friends that I used to have this really amazing father but he's gone. And I can TELL them that, with actual words from my mouth that don't turn into an ugly cry.
I still go to call him sometimes. Only for a fraction of a second but it's enough. Enough to register how much it sucks that I can't.
If I could call him, after we lamented the Longhorns' loss last weekend, I'd be telling him all about our new house. He'd have come for a visit and walked every square inch, analyzing and taking it in, appreciating every corner, and telling me later in a handwritten card that he absolutely loved our home and that he can't wait to see what we do with it.
If he were still here, he'd listen closely to my worries about venturing into business for myself and provide calm and sure advise and encouragement that would leave me feeling more confident and sure that I was able. He would lift me up and I would rise to his expectation.
If he could read my words, he would be my biggest fan. He'd tell me to keep it up...that I have always had a knack for this but I'm getting better with age and experience. But he'd also tell me to stop harping on all this grief stuff and get back to being funny already.
If I could see him, he'd smile and hug and kiss me and pat my husband on the back. He'd high five my little guys and he'd listen as I bragged about them. He'd be patient and kind with them but he wouldn't take any shit either, in a diaper or otherwise.
This has been one hell of a year and it is one that I will always look back on with amazement. Can't believe I got through it. Can't believe how low I got. Blown away by the love and support we received from so many people. Astonished by how many lives he touched and how deeply he impacted this world from a little Texas town. The pride I feel for him is overwhelming. The gratitude. The humor. The light.
He burned so damn bright.
After a year of being without him, I can honestly say that I'm finally feeling a little less jagged. My heart is not so broken. My soul is not so searching. I'm smoother. Stronger. More able. Less fragile.
And it's all because of him.
A couple of weeks ago our nearly five year old randomly turned to me in the kitchen and said, "Do you remember when Grampa had that cancer?"
I couldn't help but laugh. Yea...I remember something about that.
He then launched into a story about some PopTarts he shared with his cousins when we were living there. In his mind, the experiences were inseparable.
The grave matched seamlessly with the mundane. The tragic with simply joys. Something that meant everything with something that meant nothing.
Like life itself.
I'm getting more comfortable in this life without him and am even beginning to appreciate the majorly positive ways the loss has impacted my life. Of course, I'd still rather he be here, but I'm feeling less jagged without him and the road ahead looks smooth.