I have lost loved ones in the past—but it was never like this. My pain was never this pain. During times of others grieving, I had no idea what they were really going through. No doubt, my words of comfort to them were sincere and heartfelt. I wanted to say just the right thing to help ease their pain. But regardless of how sincere I was—I now understand that my choice of words meant nothing. However offering those words means more than is imaginable. There are no stories of how your own suffering compares that will matter. Your choice of words, what you think they need to hear, that does not matter. But the fact that you say something, you say anything, or in certain times hold a hand and say nothing at all…that is what matters. What matters is that we let each other know that we have known hurt and we are trying to understand. It is a common need to be understood that matters. That you know I'm hurting, that I’m longing and you say the words—whatever words so I know you care.
Today is my parent’s anniversary. I did not know that until tonight. That makes me want to hug my Momma and never let go. To say all those words for her to know I care, and that we are in this together, we always have been. We always will be. My heart is so sad for her. And I wish I was holding her hand always. What an Amazing Woman she is.
Tomorrow it will be two weeks since my father passed away.
That being said you can understand that the last 14 days have been filled with anxiety, tough decisions and wavering confidence in those decisions. You do what you think needs to be done...you do what you think needs to be done. You deal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no right or wrong way to deal, or to cope. When the waves of reality hit you on any given day there is no right or wrong way to cry or to laugh.
As individual as the person you lost, so is your loss. This is going to be personal, this is going to be hard, and this is going to be individual. How could it not be? So all the prayers and kind words mean more than you know, but they do not alter your situation, they just let you know you’re not in it alone.
Coping is constant. I have found my therapy is in the small things. My daughters therapy comes from drawing, mine from counting things to remember about my Daddy, it's like counting sheep. Therapy is also brushing your teeth when you don't want to. Not hitting the snooze button when it is all you feel able to do. Facing the day, doing the same old things, but doing them now, now that your world is different. Making it past the “firsts” the first time you have to do those same old things, now that your world is different. Choosing to face the day, for whatever it may hold. Therapy comes in different ways, holding on tight or letting go. It matters not which you choose.
In the past months, as my Daddy’s illness worsened, there were more and more visits from out of town family and friends. Offers of “let me know if there is anything we can do”, came pouring in. One morning my Momma said, “When someone asks 'how can I help?’ I'm going to tell them the gutters need to be cleaned out.” We laughed over breakfast and how we all say it but what does it mean? In a few minutes however, with the help of my aunt, my wonderful husband was on a ladder doing just that, cleaning out the gutters. It made my Daddy happy. It was one of his last worries, of things he had not gotten too; “When I feel better, when I feel better” he'd say. Now His soul has found “better,” in a better place where he is released from his pain.
So now it is up to us from here on out. We will make the choices. We will choose, and those choices will be right because there is no wrong. We will find our new way. After this life changing loss there are decisions to be made, tasks to complete and steps to take to reach the next great adventure. You do what you think needs to be done...you do what you think needs to be done. The next adventure whatever it turns out to be, you need to be open to it. You have to clear away the indecision, the doubt. It may seem odd but maybe it starts with cleaning out the gutters and pulling up carpet.
My parents have two homes, my childhood home in Georgia and their home near us in Alabama. There is nothing that could mean as much to me as them being here, being able to watch my daughter grow. And they are here just for us, there are no other reasons. They left a life, family and friends they’d known for years. For my Daddy he left a stretch of land he had always called home. They moved to Alabama to be with us and because of that, I had time with my Daddy that will be more of a treasure to me than any possession could or would ever be. He was worried about moving form the country, worried about living in a neighborhood. I hope he did not lose sleep over it—because he made friends in the new neighborhood that are now like family. He was always a good neighbor. You would think he had been here forever. Some people are lucky enough to call one place home. My Daddy made home where his heart was. He was always home when he was with us. Home is what you make of it—whether it is what you have always know or what new adventure you are willing to take. So on their new adventure they moved here and for close to six years their home in Georgia the “mountain house” has been waiting—patiently waiting. Waiting for what? I did not know until yesterday. It has been waiting to be made “anew.”
Yesterday I joined a crew of family pulling up carpet and sorting through my childhood home. There was rain, and then it rained on top of that rain. At times I was not sure if I was sweating, or if I had not dried from my last trip outside. My Daddy loved to listen to the rain on the tin roof. And I spent the day in what I will now call remembrance therapy. Listening to the rain, I sort, I remember and I add to my list of things to never forget about Daddy. Add - He finds a use for everything. Add- He wanted nothing. Add- I will never forget him. Add- He kept my cards. Add- He is still surprising. We sorted and purged, we cried and laughed. Memories that are treasures—treasures that hold memories. My Daddy was a collector of odds and ends. And he put away so may little things for safe keeping. And this is where I find that therapy comes in the small things. It was like a hunt, “Oh! What is that? Oh, did I really keep that? Oh, have you seen? Oh, there it is.” There are so many things, big things, little things remembered and forgotten things. The sorting, I thought it would be harder, harder to choose whether to hold on tight or to let go. But my choice was not hard, I choose both. Let a little go to make the things I keep mean even more.
I have learned more in two weeks than my head can wrap around—coping is constant, adventures change, and blessings are sometimes unseen. I will keep adding to the list, I will hold on, I will let go. Add- he always knew when the time was right. Add-he knew what the weather was going to be. Add- He loved an Amazing woman. I love her too. Coping is constant, and my memories will be made anew.
I hope it is a long time from now, but when I next speak words to console someone during their loss, I will still be sincere—as I have always been. I will say “I'm so sorry, and I love you.” But I will do it with an understanding I wish I did not have. Pains cannot be compared, it is yours alone. But I have known hurt, and I will try to understand, I will hold their hand. And when I say “Is there anything I can do?” I hope I get to work on something like cleaning out the gutters, and pulling up carpet on the way to their next adventure… to their anew.