Tuesday, May 11, 2010

the skies are gray

Last week I asked for prayers for a friend who had lost her mother. This situation has profoundly affected my weekend, digging up a mix of emotions from my own life. If you have lost a parent, then you might identify with these emotions, and if you haven't, it's hard to explain.

My dad died when I was a junior in college, after being diagnosed with leukemia my freshman year. My parents lived in Florida and I was in North Carolina for college, and I went home for a total of five days to bury my father. Quickly, it was back to school, to real life, to papers and tests and finals. I was grieving, but it was pushed to the background. There was so much to get done.

But I got to say goodbye to my father, albeit over the phone. We said what we needed to and I didn't come home until he was gone. That was our deal. But my friend B was totally blindsided by this death. Her mother was there and then she was gone. It was sudden, horrible, painful and real.

But really, I'm not posting about that so much. What I want to tell you about it the way it feels to lose a parent. It has taken me so long to be able to put it into words, how it felt to say goodbye to my father. I've long been able to tell stories about who he was, what he meant to me, or the things he taught me, but how it FEELS in reality is something different. It feels like you've suddenly been released from the bonds of gravity, like you've lost an anchor. I felt untethered, ungrounded, floundering in who I was. Who was I without a dad? I didn't know, really.

There's an old episode of Gray's Anatomy that I identify with, where George's father dies. Cristina goes out to him and tells him about the day that her father died, and that there's a "Dead Dad Club" and you can't get in until you can get in. And she's sorry that he had to join the club. He tells her that he doesn't really know how to exist in a world where his dad doesn't, and she says, "Yeah, that never really changes." It completely sums up how it feels. How can we really go on when the people who have taught us everything aren't there anymore? It's life-changing.

Life-changing. In so many ways.

Losing my dad put me in the minority in my dorm. People just couldn't relate to what was going on in my heart, to what I was experiencing. And I just knew I was sad, sad all the time. Sad even when I was asleep. The dreams were intense.

All I could tell people was that I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, and yet it is something that every person will go through. There is nothing you can do to avoid it, get out of it, or get through it easier. The sad thing is that you will all know this pain at some point in your life, if you haven't been there already.

There are times that I still dream of my dad. Once, relatively recently, I woke up thinking it was true and then was heartbroken when I realized it was only a dream. It surprised me, since it's been 13 years since he died and mostly I live my life not thinking about him. I mean, I do, but I don't dwell on it and grieve daily.

There are times when I wish he were hear to offer me advice. I wish he'd been at my college graduation, at my wedding, and I wish he'd met my husband. I wish he could fix my car, train my dog, and adjust my neck. I wish he could fold me into his lap and make all my sadness go away, like he did when I was five. I wish he could meet my eventual children.

So, here in my world, the skies are gray right now. I think about my friend, who is just beginning on this journey, and how much I know these next few years will be painful. I'm so sorry for her, and for any of you out there who have been there recently. It's not easy.

7 comments:

Jenny said...

Beautiful post...

WheelbarrowRider said...

Thanks for trying to put into words something so difficult. My husband lost his father very suddenly in a car wreck at 12. No warning. No goodbyes. I know it has everything to do with who he became after that. I appreciate your insights.

Leila said...

This was so moving. Thank you. I passed it along to a friend who just lost her mom.

prayerfuljourney said...

I think you put your experience of losing your father in the best words possible...for each of us..losing a parent is and will be different. I like that analogy of losing an anchor. That is what my parents are for me and I'm almost 40! I'm thankful they live close so I can see them often but since they are in their 80's...I try not to think about their deaths but it is a reality. I'm thankful they're healthy too but anything can happen quickly. I just can not imagine how my life will be when they are gone or what will happen to our family. They are the core. I do know I will miss them immensely.

My dh lost his mother when he was 14 to luekemia and he said it was hard. There was a lot going on at that time and he said that he went back to school the day after the funeral...his father started to date someone new and life went on quickly. I like to think that his mother was his guardian angel. She protected him through a lot. My dh does memorialize her quite a bit through the church, etc. It's very touching.

Great post...something some of us have had to endure and some of us haven't been through that experience yet..but we'll all eventually be there. God Bless.

cindysto2 said...

I honestly don't know what to type right now but I wanted you to know that your post touched me. Losing mom was and still is the hardest thing I have gone through. Life moves one, in my life and for others, but sometimes it's hard to believe that she's not a phone call away. thank you for putting into words the feelings that come with losing someone so important..

Lost in Space said...

Another member of the Dead Dad Club. I know those drudged up emotions you explain so well. I wrote one of many posts about my dad a couple years ago after my office-mate lost her own dad.

Sending hugs to both you and your friend. Even though we all know that one day we will lose them, it sure doesn't make it any easier when it happens.

redeemed diva said...

sob, sob over here. Unfortunately, I am in the Dead Dad Club, and I was just thinking these thoughts yesterday. Albeit, I was eleven when my father died, but I was thinking about how no one in my circle of friends has any idea what it feels like to be untethered and anchorless. I have learned to trust my Heavenly Father. it is true that you never truly adjust...he's always with me and some days I am sad. Just plain sad that he's not here. thanks for writing this Sissy. I'm sure your Dad would be very proud of the lovely and thoughtful woman that you are...and more than willing to walk with you through your adoption journey. By the way, I was praying for you on Mother's Day and praying that you know that you are a mother to be celebrated even if it's not in this season. Blessings to you. I think I am have to go and cry now.
Thank you for sharing