Saturday, May 19, 2012

navigating grief

*i think i should warn you. this is not my usual bubbly post. it’s actually pretty much a downer. and it took a lot for me to write it…but i think that sometimes it helps to see that everyone is real and everyone gets sad….even me…the cupcake lady. it’s random and scattered, raw and rough. really just me letting go. so read at your own risk :)
i just really miss my daddy.
i know that it’s been like a lot of months…8 actually, but that really doesn’t seem to matter much.
 wow. i actually have a hard time believing that it’s already been 8 months…and at the same time these 8 months have been some of the longest in my life. 
it’s sort of still hard to believe that he’s really gone. sometimes i am not sure if i really do believe it or understand it or if i have even begun to grasp it. at first it just felt like i was away at school. sometimes it still feels like that. like my dad is somewhere else living his life and if i can just make it a couple more months then i’ll see him again and he’ll hug me and tell me his latest AWFUL joke….that by the way, i would still laugh at. and i can finally ask him all of the questions i have been storing up. sometimes i really have to force myself to realize that this is not the case and some days i spend reminding myself that my dad is really gone. really. 
you know, i haven’t taken his number out of my phone. i just can’t bring myself to do it. and his account is still active on facebook because i don’t know how to delete it…but honestly. i don’t know if i could or if i would even if i knew how. 
my birthday is going to come and i won’t get a message or a facebook post from my dad. he won’t be at christmas this year to pick up all of the wrapping paper or finish all of the cookies i just wanted a bite of…and despite my efforts in planning and such my wedding day will just never be quite the way i always dreamed or imagined it to be. 
sometimes i think i talk about him too much. like i find ways to put him into every conversation. and i sort of feel bad about it because i feel like it always makes people feel uncomfortable. and i feel like some days i really am sad about my dad being gone, but my time to use that as an excuse has expired or something and so maybe people don’t really believe i am telling the truth. 
but then everyone loses their parents right? it’s supposed to happen. shouldn’t i just consider myself blessed to have had him for 22 years as opposed to the 10 or 8 or 13 that others had? and shouldn’t i just be grateful that my daddy was wonderful and my hero and always present in my life…? i mean i certainly didn’t suffer anything worse than the next person. 
grief is such a funny thing. 
it’s completely unpredictable, and that is why i hate it more than anything else i have ever dealt with in my life. 
i am a very independent person. my parents used a book called “the strong willed child” as their second bible when i was growing up. i like to think that i can do anything and i can do it by myself. i also like to think that i can do everything well (obviously i cannot, however i approach everything with this mindset). 
for example, if everyone says a class is really hard to handle and i should be happy with a c, i determine that i will come out with an a. when people say that it’s difficult to overcome heartbreak, i decide that i will shake it off and keep moving. 
i have had broken hearts. several. and so i think that i thought when my daddy died that i could do the same. this was just one more thing in my life that everyone said would be hard, but that i would conquer. 
and in a lot of ways i think i have. i kept going. finished college, moved to seattle, and i still laugh a lot….
but see grief is so tricky. it’s not a one time or short term thing. and just when you think you have kicked it in the butt and put it all behind you, one little word or smell or photo or even just a rock can unleash tears that you didn’t even realize you had left. and that leaves independent and over achiever me feeling as though i have failed. 
which of course is ridiculous! or at least that’s what i would tell anyone else in my situation. it is a known fact  that grief is a curious thing. that it’s length and effects vary and that everyone should be left to face it in their own unique way. 
some days it takes looking through a photo album of me and my dad, sometimes it hearing a song that he always played for me. sometimes i just love to go to stores and feel all of those pretty shiny rocks they have to buy, and sometimes it’s just watching every home video i have just so i can hear him say my name. 
but for some reason i am having  an almost impossible time allowing myself that same understanding. i struggle with letting myself cry or mentioning that it’s a hard day or even letting myself think about it. 
and grief i am finding also produces guilt. guilt of all sorts depending on the cause of the grief. in my case, i feel guilty because i think maybe i miss my dad more now than i ever did when he was alive, guilty because i am sure that i took him for granted and never told him everything that i ever loved about him, guilty because i was there when it happened and i couldn’t change it, and guilty because i left my mom to handle it all on her own while i started my charmed little life as a direct result of everything her and my daddy sacrificed for me. 
it’s funny. the day before he died, we had an extremely long conversation in my kitchen. i honestly am not sure why he was even at home, and i know that i should have been working on wedding stuff. but by the grace of God, we somehow ended up in the kitchen together. and i knew i needed to get ready and i even kept saying that, but something just kept holding me there….
he said a lot of things in that conversation. we talked about boys and about houses and about seattle. but i remember one thing very very clearly. he said…
“rachel, don’t ever feel guilty for living your life.”
and more than anything, i want to do just that. live my life guilt free. 
oh but grief. grief and all of its silly stages. i don’t even know what they are exactly or where i might sort of fit into them….but i do know this. 
i am going to keep laughing and keep busy and try every day to live my life without feeling guilty and let my daddy be honored in that. it would take me 1,000 of these posts to ever list the things that i learned from my dad and the ways that i am just like him and all of the things that i love about him. 
grief has taught me that not everything in life can be conquered over night nor does every situation have an easy answer. it’s also taught me to never hesitate to tell people in my life just how much i love them so that i never have to look back and wonder if they really knew. 
i know that my answer has been jesus and his grace. ONLY by his grace…only. 
i just keep telling myself…
i am the cupcake and my understanding is irrelevant :)
thanks for letting me share. 

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