Birthdays & Grief

woman-morethananexpat

Today is my youngest daughter’s second birthday. She is a beautiful, clever and funny little thing. I am so glad that she is a part of our family. And yet, I feel ambivalent at best about this milestone.

Some people reflect on the past year at New Year’s Eve. I reflect on the year on my two daughters’ birthdays. I can vividly see and remember their births and each subsequent birthday. I reflect on just how far they have come – how far we both have come in the past year. And then I think about my father.

I think about all he has missed since his death over two and a half years ago. He died within days of my oldest daughter’s second birthday and while I was just weeks pregnant with my second child. I grieve all over again for what he missed this past year. I grieve for my children not knowing their grandpa.

And then I get this dropping sensation and visceral tightening in my stomach. I am angry. I am resentful. His sudden death somehow seems avoidable. I resent him for not taking better care of himself. I am angry that his death overshadows my daughters’ birthdays.

I used to love planning birthday parties for my daughters. They were epic. Ridiculous, but great. For my oldest daughter’s second birthday, I had put so much effort and detail into planning the party. A few days prior, my father suddenly died. The party suddenly seemed so pointless and stupid.

I am not pissed at my dead father for ruining my party planning for my daughter’s second birthday. I am not that shallow. I am saying his death put a black smudge on one of my simple pleasures.

And, every year, it takes my focus off of celebrating the great little human I am so happy is part of my life. A child’s birthday should be a day all about them. They are a gift in my life. Seeing the delight in their eyes about a party with all of their favorite things is my way of showing them “Today, you are the center of the universe. Your every wish shall be granted.” It is a day to count blessings not to drudge up grief.

I need to find a way to celebrate his life as a gift – to count my memories of him as blessings and share them with my girls.

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Portal

My dad read every blog I ever wrote. He’d call or email me about each one. It kept us close across a vast distance like no phone call could ever do. Blogging felt like a portal into a never ending conversation with my dad. I could write things here that just never felt like the right time to say. So, Dad, as I miss you tonight, I send this out into the world wishing you could read it.

My tears feel endless. The nights are the worst. My busy day is over and reality comes crashing in again. What would I say if I could? I’d say that we all love you so much. We love you so much that it makes it so hard to understand why now was your time to leave. It feels like the party was just getting started. It feels like the memories of a lifetime were on a roll.

Why? I keep asking why. This is the unanswered question that will haunt me the rest of my life.

This is the single biggest devastation of my life so far. I am filled with so much uncertainty and regret. There are so many little conversations I’d wish we’d had. There are so many times I put off picking up the phone. I regret most of all how short of a time Evelyne knew you. She needs her Grandpa Larry. I loved seeing you two together. It made me melt.

Fall Flavors

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This is what is getting me through these past few weeks – E and baking. My husband is also being great. He is my shoulder to cry on and the ear that hears all my irrational grief-induced thoughts.

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We are trying to enjoy Fall too…in between torrential downpours and wind gusts strong enough to derail trams. But E looks so cute in her red plastic rain boots that I almost forgive the weather. I love Fall. It is time for hearty soups, crusty bread, and pumpkin muffins. But it means that Christmas is around the corner. It is my husband’s favorite time of year and I am already dreading it. This year won’t be a happy holiday. It is too soon. For now, though, it is one day at a time.

Grief & Jetlag

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I am finding it really hard to do anything. I just want to sit here. I am so physically exhausted. I am so deeply sad. I don’t want anyone to see me like this. I don’t want to see anyone either. I don’t want to try to relate to people. I don’t want people to tell me they understand. I don’t want people to pat my back and tell me they can’t imagine what I am going through. I just want to sit here alone and cry. A hole has been shot right through me. It is a blow so deep into my being that it takes me breath away. It feels like a part of me has died. There is no place I’d rather be than sitting here in this sorrow. It feels like that is the only way I can honor my father. I know he’d want me to brush myself off and move on, but I just can’t. The jetlag and the sorrow weigh down my limbs and numb me. My fingers even ache. I just can’t bring myself to care. I should go to the gym. I should go for a walk. I should take a shower. Instead, I look at pictures and listen to music and cry.

I keep having vivid dreams that my dad is still alive. I give him the biggest hug I can. He seems so surprised that I am upset. He seems in disbelief that I would have thought he’d died. The whole thing probably took him by surpise too. It would be so easy to act like nothing has happened except for this gaping mauw of sadness in my being. It is like a wound no one can see.