Hi *waves weakly*

So. Grief is kind of a monster and I resent it.

I get it. It's necessary. It's part of healing.

But I can't help but feel like my dad was taken and grief was what got substituted. And I don't want grief. I want my dad. My kids want my dad. Everyone wants my dad.

A few nights ago, Wesley started crying because he was sad about his grandpa. It was gut wrenchingly sad but also touching to see my five year old on the autism spectrum connect the absence of my dad with his own grief. It was cool. Crazy sad, but cool. We all had a good cry. Crying is a step forward. A painful one, but a step none the less.
Afterward, I told the boys to go get in my bed so we could watch Ferdinand the Bull even though it was a school night and I wanted to watch The Fall on Netflix. What can I say, I'm a giver. Besides, they would have asked way too many plot questions if we had watched The Fall.

So we popped popcorn, put on our happy faces and started watching Ferdinand. And like fifteen minutes into the movie they took Ferdinand away from his owner, a little girl who got sad. I get it, rising action and such, but Wesley started crying again, saying he didn't want Ferdinand to go because it made his friend very very sad...and he dropped his popcorn and ran out of the room.

Sam looked at me and said, "Great movie choice, mom. Way to cheer us up." He's just bitter because we didn't watch Die Hard.

And we laughed about it.  And I realized something. Grief is consuming sometimes, but it's not going to win. We will get through this intensely sad and life jarring time and we will figure out where to go from here.

My husband asked me how I was doing this week. I told him that the constant sadness is gone. The sadness now hits in odd moments at weird times, but it feels more powerful than when you are in that state of constant sadness. It's almost like your subconscious wants to put any random happiness you have in its place.  Like you almost forget how the landscape of your life has changed so drastically in a very short amount of time and then you are folding a shirt your dad bought your son that he's outgrown and it sucker punches you in the stomach. And the sadness that hits now is suffocating.

So I'm not going to spend a lot of time writing about how I'm processing my feelings about my dad, but I feel weird moving onto other subjects and digging out my humor without a gut check.

In January, I was talking to dad about my writing projects. I do a lot of ghostwriting. Ghostwriting is basically throwing yourself into another person's subject matter, reading enough of their current work to understand their voice and then writing things for them. I really enjoy it but it's easy to hide behind it. It's easy to trick yourself into thinking you are fully enjoying your hobby just because you are doing it...but you have to be really careful to find your terms and spend a little time doing things you simply enjoy.

One of the last things dad said to me that was 'fatherly' was in this conversation in January. He said,  "Do me a favor. Don't spend all your time writing other people's words. Write some more of your own."

I think about that a lot. It might seem silly. But I think that if you have a passion for something, which I think a lot of us do, it's not silly. It's the thing that keeps you company throughout your entire life. Insert your own thing. It doesn't have to be writing. It can be painting, teaching, healing, educating....wine. No judgement. This is a safe space.

At least twice a month I am convinced that my passion is Cheez-Its.

Though this year has not started in the manner I expected nor want it to. I can't help but have that Morgan Freeman line from Shawshank Redemption go through my head these days, "get busy living, or get busy dying."

I think whenever life takes an unexpected turn where mortality is involved, we realize that there is no better time to get going. If you've been meaning to do something and I can help encourage you to finally do it, I'd love the chance.

So that's a small gut check from me. The May issue of NW Georgia Magazine will have a tribute to dad. The magazine was awesome about reaching out and offering me this beautiful space to honor my dad. I hope when it comes out, that you will read it.  I was supposed to go Yurt camping...thank you baby Jesus in a manger I can put off camping for a few more months (is that technically camping)? Can you DoorDash to a Yurt?

My entire family has been moved by how much our beloved community has loved us. Our biggest wish is to be able to reciprocate or pay it forward some day.

Respectfully,
Rachel

4 comments

Karen said...

The grief you feel now...the sucker punches out of nowhere...don't ever go away. I hate to tell you that, but maybe if you know upfront you can somehow prepare yourself. My dad has been gone since 2014 and it still happens to me. Grief is permanent. I never knew that before, but it is. Sometimes the sucker punches are more common/frequent and sometimes you just have them occasionally. There's no rhyme or reason to when they occur. One year it was the lead up time to father's day, one time it was while we were in Destin and I was flooded with memories from my childhood. Right now, it is the birth of my new baby that shares mine and my father's name. My baby that Dad will never meet; a part of his legacy that he knows nothing about. My best advice is to just roll with and realize that you will forever be more emotional than you were before his passing and take solace in the fact that you had a relationship with your father that is worth grief. Not everyone is so lucky.

Steve Ivey said...

Dad was right, you should write your own words.

Esther said...

You're amazing.

Fayelle said...

Your words are absolutely fabulous. I feel like the world is a better place because you share them. Your dad was right.

So much love to you, friend.