It’s hard to believe that it has been an entire year without my father. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 2 years without my mother. It seems that we learn everything in life except how to live without our parents. And then suddenly, we have to find out how to do it. But I don’t think even if we read a thousand books on the topic that we would really truly be ready. I don’t think that’s ever something that you are quite ready for. So all we can do is love our parents as best and as much as we can while they’re still with us. So that we have fewer regrets when we look back on life with them.
As I sit on my mother’s couch, and my parents house, I sit back and reflect on the past year or 18 months. And it feels like I’ve been in a war almost. And there is a feeling of just being still shell-shocked. And a feeling of oh my gosh what have I just been through? Was all of that real? And then you realize that yes it indeed was.
And since his death it has been very difficult as well. Not only dealing with the grief, but being the only one dealing with the estate and all the needs to be done. Planning his services, handling all of the final arrangements, moving his things out of the assisted living place, taking care of the family compound, making all legal and financial decisions, going through his things and deciding who gets what (which is still on going), dealing with real estate, businesses, without any advice or support is tough.
And when I think back of what I’ve learned, it is truly hard to comprehend. How do you express what you’ve learned when you are in tire world has been turned upside down, completely rearranged, and you are left stunned, shaking your head, and what in the world just happened? I guess what I’ve learned is to cherish those you love. And I’ve learned at the end of the day, at the end of a life, people just want to know that they’re loved. They want to know that they matter. No matter who you are, or what you’ve done, or where you live, or how much money you’ve made, at the end of life you just want to know that you matter and that you’re loved and that you’ve been heard and that you’ve been understood.
At the end of life a person looks at those they love and asks was that okay? Did I matter to you? Did the things I did matter to you? Did you hear me? Did you understand?
My mother said that people just want to be validated and know that they are heard. And I would have to agree that at the end of everything else,above all else, is to be loved and understood.
I have learned that you are often stronger than you think, and that when times are really tough, you really can reach deep down inside of you and pull through. I have learned that sometimes love just isn’t enough, and that you cannot will something to be (unless you are my mother). And just because you love someone doesn’t mean they will love you back, whether it’s family, or a lover, or a friend. I have learned that fair is often times a relative term that is subjective to the eye of the beholder. I have learned more about grief than I ever wanted to know or could possibly comprehend. And I have learned that while grief may be ever present, you can learn to live with it, and even thrive. I have learned that roots are very important, but we are you plant them is everything. I have learned that friends can truly be family. And I have learned to live with heartache and that just because your heartaches doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy. Life is so multifaceted that I don’t think happiness, or even sorrow, can be defined by one event, or circumstance, or point of view.
I have learned that you cannot make anyone help you, or support you, or do the right thing. I have learned that you have to accept that some people and family and too selfish to have compassion or empathy. I have learned how to live without family. I feel like I am one of those people you read about, where their entire family gets wiped out…those people can learn to live without family, I can too. and I have. I heave learned that tough times do not build character, they build self reliance, compassion and strength, because you do not know how strong you are until you have no choice. I have also leaned that those hard times can bend even the strongest of steel frames, because there is only so much stress a person can take. So you must take care of yourself.
And I have also learned how lonely it is when the people you always turn to for support and instruction and guidance, are no longer there. But what an accomplishment it is to find your own way, your own purpose, and trust your own instincts.
Yes I’ve learned all that in a year, well maybe 18 months. And I have learned that I want to be happy. Because life does go on, it doesn’t stop just because someone you love is no longer there. So you just have to find a way. And you have faith, and you pray, and you talk to yourself, and you talk to your loved ones who aren’t there anymore, and you treasure the memories, and you build. You build a life, in The New Normal, one baby step, 1 foot step, one heartbeat, at a time. And slowly, but surely, you will emerge having walked through fire.
Dad, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I heard your voice, since I sat and ate breakfast with you, since I had a conversation with you, hug you, hold your hand, I just enjoyed your company. I can’t believe it’s been so long, and I just sometimes wonder how could it have been that long? I thought you would be around forever. Thank you for being here as long as you are for teaching me everything, for showing me by example, by being such a wonderful father, and a wonderful husband to my mom. Thank you for having enough faith in me that you knew I could get through this too. Thank you for so many, many more things. Please tell Mom that I love and miss her, just like I love and miss you. Please watch over me, and please visit me in my dreams.