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I’m still grieving.

Yes, still

I made it until almost lunchtime today before I was forced stop, and consciously think about it. My better half arrived home carrying a cellophane-wrapped bundle of sunflowers; as I felt the weight of their green stalks in my hand, I looked down at the driveway asphalt, and tried to will myself to hold it together. To hold the line before everything in me succumbed to sadness.

Today would have been my dad’s 68th birthday.

I didn’t want to make a fuss about it. After all, he’s been gone for working on two years now (even though that doesn’t quite seem possible), and I always feel guilty because I am still grieving.

It’s been almost two years. Why, on some days, can I still not seem to function the way normal adults do?

On some days, grief just seems to sit there in the back of my throat or like a storm gathered behind my eyes. I don’t let on to this fact. Others can’t see it, but I feel it—this weight of carrying on.

I don’t share how I’m feeling almost as a rule now. I don’t want to talk about it. I simply function, and never have to burden the people around me with how I’m actually feeling after hearing a Beatles song on the radio. Or when I think about how my youngest child probably won’t remember him, and sometimes I even get scared because I worry if I remember the sound of his voice. Or when I see how the weather outside is so incredibly perfect, so perfect he probably would have called to tell me as much, and he would have asked what I planned on doing that day to take advantage of it.

And I hardly ever let myself even think about how I wish I had called him more. How I wish I treated him out to lunch more. How I really hope he knew I was there with him at the end.

This is the kind of behavior you learn when you don’t want to make anybody else feel awkward. When you don’t want to feel like anyone is looking at you thinking, “Gee, still?” I plague myself with thoughts like this even though I actually have no idea how anyone else will feel about it. I have decided to not talk about it because I don’t think I could stand to find out.

But yes. Still.

When your world cracks in half as delicately as an egg but as devastatingly as a volcanic eruption. When you fall down so hard it causes you to question everything, even your own existence. It can take a great deal of time to figure out how you’re going to move ahead, especially when it feels like you are fumbling around for a light switch in the pitch dark.

Eighteen months for grief is just the blink of an eye.

It’s taken me quite a while to accept that yes, I will still hurt sometimes. In fact, it almost gave me more peace to understand and be OK with this fact.

Not long after my dad passed, I kept waiting to turn a corner. To arrive at some new place where I would shrug off everything that hurt, and never have to feel it or relive it all again. But this isn’t how we are hardwired. It isn’t how we are made. That’s not going to happen on this side of eternity.

We were made to never forget. At least, not all the way.

For as long as we love, we will grieve.

And on this side of heaven, grief and love go hand-in-hand. Grief reminds us that love is worth it all.

When I realized that fact, the load got a little bit lighter. When I grieve, it’s because I still love him. That sensation can still be poured back out into the life I live every day. Into the family and friends I am so fortunate to have.

Sometimes, it hurts because it’s trapped, and what I really want and need to do is give him a call or stop over at his house, and sit on the back porch with him under the ceiling fan.

But I can’t.

Grief is love that’s trapped, and there’s only soothing it, never removing it. It just is what it is.

I let it rupture sometimes. When it overcomes me, it overcomes me, and there is nothing I can do it about it. I just aim to not let it make me bitter. I try to call it for what it is, and understand that yes, it’s still going to happen. I am not an anomaly. I am not the exception.

I am a person who loves and is just doing her best. Because that’s what he would really want anyway.

A Letter To My Mom in Heaven

My Dad’s Death Still Haunts Me

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Ashley LeCompte

Save for a brief sojourn to California, Ashley has always called the rural cornfields and bay waterways of Maryland her home. She loves Jesus, coffee and donuts. She’s married to a former Marine, and one heck of a guy who puts up with her snoring. She is mom to her three beautiful and wild children. You can normally find her eating frosting straight out of the can and buying the same shirt in three colors when she isn’t writing or practicing her photography skills.

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