Today is the one-year anniversary of my father leaving this life. I remember those horrible freezing cold weeks from last year as if they were a dream. It was the coldest ice storm that Texas had seen in about seven years. It was depressing and yet fitting that the earth should mourn my father’s life the same way that I was. My older children had lice, our washing machine broke, and all of my kids got food poisoning from a cub scout banquet. Three days after his passing was my wedding anniversary and my husband and I both cried, saying that we would laugh later – that on our eleventh anniversary we were cleaning up puke, combing out lice, and trying to change our spring break plans to accommodate a funeral. My sweet middle child turned six on the day of my fathers viewing. We went to the beach that morning and had cake and presents late that night. I know it sounds odd, but the juggling of the normal with the surreal is all that helped me survive.
It happened so quickly and unexpectedly, that it truly has taken all of this last year to process. The pain and the loss still feels so fresh and so raw that I find myself sobbing out of nowhere. At times my heart still doesn’t quite accept that he is gone. For months after he passed I would still text his phone with funny comments and little quips that were part of our every day banter. I keep our last text messages saved on my phone as a treasure and could kick myself for all of the texts and voicemails that I erased. Last year on my birthday in July, ironically, I found an old voicemail of him calling and singing happy birthday to my son Talon. It was so good to hear his voice but I was racked with sobs for a while. Death is like that. It is a thief that sneaks up on you again and again–even after what you love has been stolen you can still feel the loss so intently months and years later.
Six months before my dad died I gave birth to my sixth child. My water broke at 9:30 pm on my kids’ second day of school. I planned to drive myself to the birthing center and have my husband meet me there, but my father insisted upon taking me. I could tell how nervous he was as we drove in semi-silence. I remember assuring him that we would make it with plenty of time. He told me he wasn’t worried, even though I could see his knuckles white with fear on the steering wheel.
After he passed this memory became so special. My father driving me, his sixth child, to deliver her sixth child. How poignant. I know that my baby girl, Cosette, will not remember her Papa at all. Sadly, most of my children will not remember him. But I am so incredibly grateful that he got to meet all of them. If the weeks during his rapid illness and decline in the hospital taught me anything, it is gratitude. In my fathers death – somehow I also found the joy of life. I found the importance of knowing that each moment—for good or bad—could be someone’s last impression of you. Or yours of them. So take the pictures. Give the hugs. Realize that “this too shall pass.” Know that the child who will not sleep in their own bed, potty train or give up their binki, eventually will. Put forth the extra effort even when it isn’t convenient. Say what you need to say. Be better. Be kinder. Forgive often. Let go. Smile. Laugh. Cry.
Know that your life is enough just the way it is and don’t waste anymore time wishing away the monotony of your days, or the simplicity of your relationships.