Revisiting emptiness and how to fill it
Today I woke up feeling hungry and lonely.
Maybe you can relate.
I miss my Mom, who I haven’t seen in many months due to both of our fears about COVID.
I miss hugging anyone and everyone who would let me.
I miss the feeling of a more predictable future.
I still miss my Dad, who is dead.
When I was a young child, I had a period of intense anxiety between the ages of about 5 and 7 where I couldn’t handle going to school for the day. Separation anxiety, they called it. My Mom or Dad would drop me off and I would panic instantly. To this day I can’t fully explain why, but I just didn’t feel safe in a new place. I wanted to be home where things felt familiar. My need to go back felt desperate. It was a longing I couldn’t get past. …
On allowing our feelings of love for someone, even after they die.
The other night I was driving home when I passed a street that reminded me of my Dad. Years ago, I had a temp job near that street where I wasn’t making much money. My job was to put stickers on library books so they could be catalogued according to a new library book system. I did this for hours a day while listening to the first Bon Iver record on repeat in my headphones and dreaming of doing much more exciting things for money.
My Dad worked from home most of the time so I would often call him on my lunch breaks just to say hi. I remember being embarrassed about my situation, about my small salary and about not having a new full-time job yet. I told my Dad the truth about that and he asked if I needed money. He offered to get in the car right then and drive up to the library to give me some if I needed it. That’s the kind of man he was. …
What facing fear and grief has taught me about love.
Two years ago, I had both the heartbreak and the privilege of being with my Dad as he died.
From that moment on, I was changed. I didn’t even try for this — it just was.
It’s something I never thought I would be capable of, but it was what my Dad deserved — to have his family’s loving support as he made his big transition.
I’m still so proud of us all for showing up for him like that. We did things our way. While he was being transported home for hospice care we decorated our living room and his hospital bed to celebrate his life and his journey. We looked for moments to laugh as well as cry. My sisters and I laid down on top of each other in a heap right after he passed, just letting all of our emotions out in a wild, sloppy mess. …
How one magic mug of hot chocolate taught me all about gratitude.
This morning I made one of the most delicious cups of hot chocolate I have ever experienced. I used pure cacao and cinnamon and a dash of coconut cream. It was frothy on top and the perfect thickness and temperature. I poured it into my favorite mug that I got from my favorite store in Big Sur, California. It was the epitome of Sunday morning radness.
But in the midst of all this ecstasy, I caught myself doing something very weird.
By my 3rd sip of this fantastic cup, I found myself thinking, “I want more. Maybe I want a second cup too.” …
A love story for 2019.
This year, rather than make my typical resolutions, I’ve decided to try something new and focus on 3 main themes:
Radical Self Love.
These are all things I know I need more of — and for the first time in awhile, I think I’m ready to work on getting them. My Dad passed in 2017 and though I’ve been hiding in the grief hole ever since, it’s time for the next phase. I feel it.
I’m a little intimidated by my intentions because they seem way easier said than done. I felt safe in my depression and my grief. I spent a long time staying still out of necessity. But recently I’ve realized a shift where treating myself with kid gloves no longer feels like healing — it now feels more like stagnation. I think this point comes at different times for different grieving people — but when you know, you know. …
On dreaming about a parent who’s passed.
I dreamed about my Dad again last night.
I was inside the house where I grew up, fighting with my Mom and sister in the kitchen. I can’t remember what our exact disagreement was, but finally I stormed out of the room, up a flight of stairs and out the front door, only to see my Dad walking up the same path toward me with a 24-pack of toilet paper in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other.
In the dream I remembered that he’d died last May so I was confused — followed by ecstatic. I ran to clear the distance between us and flung myself at him for a hug. Because this was a strangely lifelike dream I actually noted the sensation of being pressed up against a squishy ton of toilet paper as I wrapped my arms around his neck. …
On facing my fears … kind of.
I stood on the edge of the cliff, nervous toes clinging to the warm stone.
“Jump!” my boyfriend called out to me from the lake below, his arms outstretched.
“Jump!” cried an eager little boy I had never met.
Quickly, the other children in the vicinity splashed over to the scene and began cheering me on as well, their popsicle-stained mouths stretching out into supportive smiles and shouts.
My torso twitched into a false start, held back by my terrified legs that refused to leave that safe spot on the ground.
I was damn afraid of heights. …
On the “acceptance” stage of grief.
I miss my Dad.
I have that thought a lot. I mostly have it silently because it’s hard to say out loud.
“How’s it going today?” someone might ask.
“Not so bad,” I might answer.
I show up at the grocery store a lot. It’s a comforting place because my Dad and I used to go there together. It was part of the Weekend Routine. I go at all hours and for any small reason.
I have to be careful at the grocery store. I have a history of binge eating, otherwise known as “eating my feelings.” That’s more than a decade in my past, but the urges still appear. Over the years I’ve eaten when I was scared, sad, mad, bored, broken-hearted, or confused. I’ve eaten for comfort, for pleasure, and sometimes even to say “fuck you” to “The Man.” Doing that gave me a brief yet sweet feeling of control — of treating myself. …
On the “anger” stage of grief.
The glass door of my parents’ medicine cabinet sits on the floor of the dining room.
“What happened, Mom?” I ask.
“It fell off,” she replies.
It was a pretty heavy piece.
“I know. But no one got hurt. Lucky.”
I go upstairs to check out the scene. The medicine cabinet hangs there, weirdly naked in the bathroom.
Now that’s just not right.
Through most of my Dad’s cancer treatment he looked surprisingly normal. He kept his hair and maintained his weight. The only thing out of the ordinary was the pills. …
A few weeks after my Dad died, I decided to join a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. It felt like I had to do something.
Their manager called me one day while I was walking from work to the train in New York. He offered me a position subbing for one of the core members who had a few scheduling conflicts coming up. I was scared, but I said okay. It felt like something my Dad would have loved to see me do.
I adore Fleetwood Mac. When I was a Junior in high school I took a trip to volunteer on a farm in Arkansas. Two of the other girls that went blew my mind by introducing me to The Dance. They would play it on a CD player at top volume as we hung out and chatted on the bunk beds after dinner. …