A new life after a death
I miss my dad. It probably shouldn't be a surprise. It’s completely normal to miss someone once they have passed away. Lately, I’ve been feeling okay, so, I guess I never thought I would miss him at this time when I have been feeling so okay. But, I really do miss him. I know grief is supposed to catch you off guard, but sometimes, I know it must be lurking around the corner somewhere. This time, I really didn’t see it coming, so I guess grief is really good at its job.
Before this morning, I had felt things were going so well. We were 4 months past his death, 3 weeks past his memorial service, and I am back in CA, 3,000 miles away from the city that I’ve known him best in. I’ve been feeling more myself, less clouded in grief.
I’ve been comforted and held steady these past weeks by a visitation dream I had from my father. The dream felt as if he were alive, and I woke feeling elated to have “seen him” even though I knew he was truly gone. After the dream, I felt that we still had a way to connect, that all those times I talked to him while I was alone in the car, that all those moments I had called for his guidance in my head hadn’t been me reaching out in vain. The visitation dream lightened me, made me hopeful for another connection in the future, made me feel not so alone. I was feeling appropriately balanced, given the circumstances.
As per expected, grief gifts me quick moments of sadness. For example, recently, when I was in CO, I had a shared moment with a friend, sharing our stories of our losses. Memories of Dad came flooding back and I couldn't help by cry right there in the middle of that upscale bar while attempting to celebrate our friend’s engagement. And then, I bounced right back to the fun, upbeat conversation about the excitement of our friend engagement, and to reliving ridiculous stories that would be embarrassing if I had any shame about what happened in my college years. That moment I cried in the bar felt like a normal and temporary moment of sadness and then I was “back on track.”
This morning, on the other hand, was a full blown breakdown that some people would call a release.
I don’t even remember what song came on the radio in the car this morning that started me crying. I do remember turning on the radio and immediately feeling slapped in the chest by an overwhelming amount of sadness, followed by a full on lump taking over my throat from the inside, an unexplainable tightness in my cheeks and my brow tightening so much that liquid building under my eye’s lower lids was forcefully pushed out onto my face and dripped down over my clothes. I didn’t even realize until minutes later that I was actually crying, followed immediately by feeling self-conscious that people on the google bus next to me could see the tears streaming down my face, snot building around my upper lip, mouth open in despair and chest heaving to power out this immense amount of energy and emotion.
To be totally honest, something had been building. I’ve been anxious the past 5 days, so I’ve been trying to use my self-care strategies: candles, meditation, tapping. I verbally guided myself through my anxiety: “I’m worried. I’m worried that I’m worried. I’m 4 weeks pregnant and I’m worried to tell anyone because I am worried it wont stick. I’m worried my worry will expel this ball of cells out of my body. I’m worried I will mess all of this up. What about blue cheese I ate? That can’t be good for a growing ball of cells. What about dentist x-rays? What about that night I fell asleep with the iPad so close to my stomach? I’m clearly failing at this mom thing already. I just know I’ll become a chronic worrier and then no amount of essential oils will be able to snap me back.”
An hour after my self-reflection, I turned on the radio in my car and my worry hit me dead in the face: I miss my dad. I want him here to have this new life experience with us. I want hear him calmly tell me “Great, keep up the good work” when I tell him I’m pregnant. I want him to report to me how crazy excited my mom is and that he’s sorry, he just can’t stop her from going overboard. I want to hear his silly jokes about how our family works and how he thinks this new addition would fit into our family dynamic. And above all, I want to see his face as he holds his grandchild for the first time.
First of all, to picture my stoic dad holding a small little fragile bundle of love is a challenge. I’ve seen him sit near children, converse with children, show children cool things, joke with children, heal children, save their lives, but I’ve never seen him hold a little infant that belonged to his own child.
I just know he would hold this child with so much love. I know he would gently and quietly let it rest on his chest. I know he would give me the simplest advice that would be so relevant: “We never worry,” “Just do it.” I know he would have been delighted to meet this child, to be part of its life. I know he had so much to give this child, to teach it, to show it, to share with it. Although I truly believe he still will connect with this child, it won’t be the same, and there’s nothing anyone can do or say to change the rawness of this feeling.
I just really really miss him.
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