Life is Fleeting, Learn to Love It

After losing my father to his battle with cancer I felt; Anger, sadness, and denial. Even now I can be struck with any of these feelings at random. It’s little reminders like pictures, or notes or just passing memories.

My father wouldn’t want me to feel this way. There it is, the reality of the situation. This thought struck me with an immediate weight lift. It surprised me that I felt that way.

One of my last conversations with him he said “You’ll be alright, I know you will”. I was crying when he told me this. It was then that I knew that he really was dying. This new normal was a hard fact to swallow, and I didn’t for one second believe that I would be alright without my father in my life.

It’s very hard to be sitting with a person that you thought was invincible. Maybe you even tricked yourself into thinking that he or she was immortal, and realize that it’s not true. Death is not a thing that could happen to them.

Death is not a lesson you want to learn about, but it is inevitable. My father dying was my first real blow in how tangible and fragile life can be. So of course I let myself fall into depression and anger. It was easier to be there then it was to feel happy. I evolved into a different person.

There’s no time line on mourning but now I realize that I want to live my life the way he would have wanted me to. He would want me to wake up each day with the belief that it will be a good day. He would want me to go to bed after a truly horrible day, and say “It is what it is, but there’s always a new day tomorrow.”

He would want me to be happy whenever I remembered anything about him. He would want me to cry happy tears, because the memories were fleeting thoughts that put a smile on my face. He would not want me to be sad.

He would want me to be less angry. He’d want me to notice the little things in life that make it all worth it. The little things that make you wake up each day and say “Yes this life is worth living,”

He’d want me to love the people I still have in my life, and to reach out to them. To do little things for them every single day to show I care. He’d want me to teach my son independence, and good morals. He’d also probably want me to teach my son about cars, and be a good handyman but that last one is going to fall upon others shoulders.

He’d want me to love Zack fiercely every single day, to be thankful for him every single day. I believe my father knew I was going to be OK because of the people that I was led to in my life, the family and friends I have. He knew was I going to be OK way before i knew it myself.

Now when I think of him or am reminded of him I will strive to be happy for the time that was given to me with him, and not angry about the time that I lost.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us..” – Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)

 

 

Finding Me Again

I recently had this thought of wanting to make an impact on the world somehow. The thing is the only impact I may ever make will be on my family, maybe my friends.

After my father died a lot of people came forward and told us stories about what he did for them. We found that he affected far more people then he himself probably ever imagined. It was almost extraordinary, and it made me think about myself. It made me think that I doubt I’ll ever reach people with that much magnitude. This didn’t make me sad, it just made me think.

I’m an introvert. I don’t always like people. I like the people I choose to be my people, but I’m not a people person. I hate crowds. I get overwhelmed easily. If I get myself out of the house to an outing of any kind, I always need a moment to decompress. It literally takes energy out of me to be social. What I can’t decide is that just who I am, or who I’m choosing to be? It’s probably a little bit of both, but I’m ok with that.

Sometimes I feel like I try, and nothing comes from it. Then I accept that either I’m just the wrong tetris piece for that moment in time. I spend the night beating myself up about it. I spend the night sometimes getting irrationally angry, more at myself then anything. We are our own worst enemy.

I just read the Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, and the words she wrote about on her introvertedness (yes I just made up that word) resonate in me. I know what it’s like to fall victim to easily saying no. Saying “no” is actually more of the easy way out for me.

After my father died it became even worse. I lost interest in things that I use to love. I fell into a depression of sorts, and getting out of bed even became hard for me. I had to though. I am wife and a stay at home mom. I have people that depend on me to live. So I did, but I wasn’t really living. I think I was just going along with the flow. I started to eat and drink my feelings. I gained all the weight back I had worked so hard to lose after having my son. This made me sad for myself. I stopped liking any of my clothes. I actually hate getting dressed in the morning right now, but that is something I’ve started working on.

I stopped having alcohol for the most part. I have it on special occasions or Sundays, but otherwise I’ve given it up. Two things have happened; my stomach is happier and I sleep better. That last one came as a surprise to me. For months I’ve been waking up at 3 AM, unable to fall back asleep. Now I sleep through the night. Of course now I stay up later reading so that might have something to do with it. It helps calm my brain and turn it off.

Then I started portion control and calorie counting. I know that shakes, clean eating, and whatever new diet fad is going on work for some people, but it’s just not for me. It’s awesome that people find what works for them! I like to eat food, and so I want to be able to eat what I want, just within reason. It’s what has always worked for me. It’s what I’m doing now.

Now I’m starting to walk again. Maybe I’ll try yoga again, but I’m also kind of interested in Pilates.  I have chronic migraines and muscle pain so I can’t really do any high endurance exercise. It wears me out, so I have to do what I know I can handle.

So this is only the beginning of finding me again. I’m trying to find happiness in little things throughout the day. I’m looking for the good that falls in with the bad. Let’s not lie to ourselves; there will always be some kind of bad that happens. Some kind of drama that unfolds itself when you least expect it, but there is always good in this world too.

I see the good in my son’s laughter, or when he learns something new. I see the good in my husband’s horrible jokes that make me laugh anyway. I love his hugs, and just being quiet with him. I love cooking, and baking. I’ve been scouring Pinterest for recipes I want to try in this “new” year.

I’ve started living again. I’ve started enjoying the little things like the smell of rain in the desert, or a good walk. I’ve discovered Arnold Palmers. Look I know those have been around for a while, but I’ve just now discovered them. They are amazing! They are the perfect afternoon drink.

I like Sunday dinners with my mom, and aunt, trying out new recipes for them or old ones that I tried and true.

I’ve started reading again! Like actually reading, and not just listening to audiobooks. After my father died, audiobooks were a godsend. They were exactly what I needed. The majority of books I read last year were audiobooks. So really I didn’t read them. I listened to them. I still count them though, because it takes brain power to listen actively to them. I still enjoy them, and always have at least one going.

I still miss my father. I still get angry that I didn’t have more time with him. I was sad around the holidays, because it was just hard not having him there. It wasn’t the first holiday season without him, but it was the first one that felt actually real. The one before I was still numb from it all. Things will pop up that remind me of him, and I get sad but also happy. I was lucky to have him as a father.

I was lucky.

I’ve grown since then though. I’ve molded into a new normal. I’m still floundering, but I’m making the most of it. There are still a lot of unknowns in the world, but for now I can live in the day to day mundaneness. I can enjoy that mundaneness. Sometimes it’s just sitting on the couch finishing a book. Other times it’s being in the moment with my son, while he sits on my lap watching whatever new show he likes on Netflix or PBS kids. It’s watching old favorite movies. It’s reading out loud to my son, or watching him play with his father.

It’s laughing again, really laughing, and feeling it deep in your stomach.

So maybe the only impact I’ll make will be on myself, and my family. It’s good though. It’s happiness.

When I say New Year New Me, I mean it. I really really mean it this time.

 

 

The Loss of My Father

One of the worst things I was told a lot when I found out my dad had terminal cancer was; “well at least you know it’s going to happen so you can make the most of the time you have left” or some shit like that. I would have put that more eloquently, but it was the kind of thing that didn’t need to be put that way.

I didn’t really have time because instead I had to watch him slowly wither away to the frail frame he became. He didn’t want me to see him like that either, and I had a two year old that didn’t want to sit still at the time.

I remember the day we were waiting to hear what the prognosis was. I was so anxious that I decided to clean out and organize the pantry and the spice cabinet. I got through the entire spice cabinet, and when I got to the canned goods I was informed that the cancer was back, and it was terminal this time. He had two years at the most. The can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes blurred before my eyes, as the tears dripped down my face and I felt completely helpless.

If I rewind to 4 years earlier they had found some cancer in my father’s head. It was removed, and they said he was cancer free. He bought himself a nook, and proceeded to read all the books from his childhood, and more.

He had melanoma though, and it is one of the most aggressive cancers. Fast foward to the end of 2014 and they found more in his neck. It was removed, and my entire family came for Thanksgiving because we were afraid it would be the last Thanksgiving we would get to celebrate together with my dad. I didn’t want to think in those terms because they had said at the time the cancer was gone.

I didn’t know just 7 months later I would be sitting in my kitchen crying over a can of Diced Tomatoes. The redness of it still blurs in my memories. I regrouped myself though because I believed I still had at least two more years.

I didn’t.

July 4th my dad was brought in to the hospital for complications. The cancer had spread into his back, and was basically forming into his bones. It was slowly taking him before my eyes. I went into see him, and this is the last time he hugged me. I mean really hugged me. I still remember his dad’s scent. At least my dad’s scent. I walked in and my mom said ‘tell her everything that’s going on,”

He said “in a minute, I just want to hold my baby for a little while.”

I’m the youngest of three, and the only girl. I’m also the only one he got to be in the hospital room with when I was born. He held me first, because my mom went into surgery.

That summer was one of the longest summer’s I remember enduring. One of the days I sat outside of the hospital on the bench waiting for my husband to get the car. I was crying in that quiet way because I hate crying in public. It was the kind of crying that hurts both physically and emotionally because you’re trying to hard to hold it in. A woman who worked in the hospital walked up to me, and asked if I was alright.

I said yes, only because at the time I didn’t need counseling or consoling since my husband was less then five minutes away. I didn’t want a stranger to feel sorry for me.

I ate hospital food for lunch a few times.

I was watching Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp when my mom came over in the evening to tell me it was time to put him in hospice.

They moved my dad into a nursing home, and my mom was doing her best to be strong. I had to take her home one afternoon though, and we drank rum and cokes and watched Pride and Prejudice. Then I ordered cheese pizza from papa johns, extra sauce. It was the most delicious pizza I had had in a while. The monsoons rolled in that afternoon, as they often do during the summer here.

While he was in the nursing home, he took my hand and said “You’ll be alright,” and then he made me cry because he said “You’ll tell your son all about me right?”

Yes, yes yes, a million times yes. I will make sure he knows who you were and what you were to me.

The last time I remember talking to my dad was when they did this little service for him because he was in the navy. It was an honoring service, and after my mom, brothers and I went to eat at Outback while my dad slept. A really horrible monsoon storm came in while we were there, and my mom and brothers wouldn’t let me leave.

Monsoon storms are a force to be reckoned with. They roll in out of nowhere, and the rain is so torrential that it causes flash flooding. There is sometimes hail the size of golf balls, and the thunder is loud, and the lightning is bright. This storm was exactly like that but ten times worse. So I went back in, and we all talked just the five of us as a family one last time. I didn’t know it would be the last time at the time. We still thought he had at least six months, but he was slowly deteriorating. He barely drank, and he really didn’t eat. He had gotten so skinny.

The man I once knew wasn’t there anymore.

By the end of the week my mom told me she didn’t think he had much longer. She told my brothers we all needed to be together. I don’t remember much, but when my mom called me and said I had to come right away I was doing another mundane task. I was folding my Harry Potter socks. It was a Sunday and I dropped everything and told my husband I had to leave right away. I just left, and this car drive took forever. It seemed like I hit every single red light, and slow driver.

I didn’t make it in time. I saw my brother first, and I don’t remember what he said but he took me into his arms and I cried. I cried so much that day, and for the next few months. I still cry. I’ll be walking along fine, and then suddenly something will pop up and remind me of him. The holidays have been pretty hard since his passing.

They told us we had two years. We only had two months. When losing someone you deeply care about, no way is better. If it’s sudden and you weren’t expecting it, you wish you could get back some of that time. You probably think of all the things you would do differently. When you have to watch them die, you just want their suffering to end. You wish it was sudden because anything is better then this. Anything is better then all the waiting. Waiting for the end.

“Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strength to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control
Flying at the speed of light
Thoughts were spinning in my head
So many things were left unsaid
It’s hard to let you go” Linkin Park

The truth is even if you know you have time, you still think about the things you wish you had done differently. You still wish you had spent more time with the person. You wish you had written down all the stories they told a million times at every holiday and Sunday dinner meal. You wish you could their book down, because everyone has a story. A legacy. Everyone is interesting. I guess if I could give any advice for someone that is struggling through this right now then get their story. Write it down for your kids so that they can know how great of a person he or she was, and how much they meant to you.

The following is a site to bring awareness for melanoma, and a hope to find a cure:

http://www.curemelanoma.org/

Note: My mom probably wouldn’t want me to write this, but I need to. I need to get out. It’s how I cope with things. Writing is my catharsis.