There are times in all of our lives, when we feel like we have finally turned a corner when it comes to having dealt with trauma. And when it happens it is almost tangible, it can be felt so strongly. And yet, there is no evidence to the outsiders that anything has changed.
I turned that corner on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day last year marked the final last miles I walked with my father. The creepy ex who cheated on me with prostitutes and strippers left the house, leaving my father and I to enjoy the house.
My father and I were eating breakfast on the 16th when he made the comment that the house was so much more peaceful and pleasant. That said a lot coming from a man of few words. We had a good time together, just being father and daughter.
And then Dad fell out of bed in the early morning hours of the 17th. It was a Friday and he was to move into the assisted living the next day. Instead he went into a Hospice Care facility for the next 5 days. He was in quite a bit of pain and they could take care of him, keep him comfortable and well looked after.
One night I took him boiled peanuts, and we had the best time eating them together, watching some TV and just talking about life. Then while cleaning up, I slipped on a bag of boiled peanut juice and fell on my bum. I’ll never forget how my Dad laughed and called me the Pinktank, a nickname I have had for almost 30 years. But his favorite nickname for me was simply PJ. He had called me PJ since I was a little girl, about 4 years old.
All that weekend I moved Dad’s things into his assisted living apartment, set up his new place, hung pictures, got a shower curtain and other decorative things just for him. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I had enough love to make the place shine. I even had boiled peanuts, and his favorite beer in the fridge. No detail was overlooked. His favorite coffee cup, his favorite beer koozie, his favorite clothes and furniture. I even got him new soft sheets for him to sleep on. I was exhausted, but I knew he would like it. AN I just wanted him to feel good and warm there.
He moved into his new place that Monday, the 21st. And those were the last days we would spend together. He passed away on March 1st. As the anniversary approaches, I am thoughtful and very aware of all the memories. I spent as much time with him as possible, going at lunch or after work, sometimes both. Such a wonderful, kind, gentle man.
And I finally feel like I have my life back together. I finally have me peace, my groove and my heart back. It is no longer shattered in a million pieces and my soul is once again whole. So his anniversary now is so much different than Mom’s, when I was a certifiable mess. I have turned the corner in the grief neighborhood. Every day I am a little happier, even as I miss both of my parents so very much.
It is surreal that is has been a year. And even longer than that for my mother. It is surreal that I have existed this long without them. And that there is a lifetime ahead without them still. But the corner has been turned. And I will never have to go back to that place of heartbreak again, even as I remember the last miles Dad and I walked together.
I love you Dad. I miss your voice, and your hands, and your smile and you, It was my honor to walk those last miles with you, and a privilege to be there for you in your last moments. To hold your hand as God took you in His arms. I know Mom was there to meet you, I saw your smile as you left. Please visit me in my dreams.