family

One Year

It’s been a year since since I lost my dad. I think of him often. I cherish my memories. I love to see my pictures from the past pop up on my social media timehop. I like to honor his memory whenever I can.

As I think of the past year I have many emotions. Some I can articulate. Some I’m still processing. It’s part of the grieving process for me. 

I think about how my mom is doing often. How she is getting by each day without her partner of over 60 years. How she has to manage so much without him. How she has to be strong when she probably wants to cry. How she has to stand up for herself. 

I try my best to comfort her. I try to take her away from her normal to show her happy when I can. I try to make her laugh. I try to snap as many photos as she will allow knowing my days may end with her without notice. I like to live in the moment with her. Get her to try new things. She doesn’t like to plan beyond 2 weeks in advance but she will try if she doesn’t think too much about why she shouldn’t. She is living her life to the fullest.

One day at a time we are adjusting. We lost our rock of the family. As he was put to rest my Mom arose as the new rock. A role reversal of sorts but fun for me to watch. I have learned so much from her this year. How to face adversity. How to stand firm for your beliefs. How to be independent. How to be okay with a new normal.

The last statement is probably the most important. Being okay with how the chips may fall. We can all have a plan we work towards but a piece of the plan may fall through. In those times we need to adjust. Be flexible. Learn. Chart a new path. Change the environment if need be. 

Life may test us. It may rock our faith. It may push our patience buttons repeatedly. How we react defines who we are. I want to be like my mom. A rock of sorts. A dynamic rock. A strategic rock. A rock that is durable to withstand the elements of life. 

Life doesn’t have a roadmap. It has twists, turns, speed bumps, uphill battles, and so much more. Who we are shows when faced with the hardest times. Do we buckle under pressure? Do we rise to the occasion?

My mom.

My rock.

My inspiration.

Mother’s Day was upon me when I wrote this post. I spent some special time with her this weekend. I was able to see so much in her eyes. I saw her joy for so many reasons. At the same time I saw sadness that my dad wasn’t there to share the experience with her. I saw her aging. Her body is deteriorating. Is it natural timing? Is it her being lost without him? Is it her environment partly reclusive no thanks to corona? I will never know.

Each year I will honor my dad in May. I haven’t decided all the ins and outs of my dedication but I do know I will have traditions. 

awareness

Grief

Grieving is different for everyone. Grieving is more difficult for some than others. This year I saw a lot of loss around me. Too much if you ask me, but it’s the hand I was dealt this year.
I lost a dog just before COVID. There are many times he is thought of but the memories in the heart last forever. He is running with the angels somewhere. There was just one Axel in my world. Forever a memory just like my childhood dog named Tuffy. 

Then a jovial business associate lost his battle with cancer in the early days of COVID. That was gut-wrenching but at a distance due to COVID. He made so many laugh. He inspired many in his years. He was just a big loss to many. He is better off now, in peace. No more suffering.

Then within 48 hours of my dad passing naturally my mother-in-law passed. Boom. Just like that. Two family leaders gone in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Amidst a pandemic. Travel bans, burial restrictions. So many nos. Not the goodbye one ever expected. The roller coaster and shock of a double whammy still makes me shake my head yet it still seems surreal.

Boom another colleague drops just like that. He was suffering in silence. Away from people due to isolation requirements with a low immune system. Gone and somewhat forgotten. Why? No service beyond the immediate family because of full-blown COVID. Time has passed. People have moved on. Did they forget? For those closest I see the hurt. Their healing is a delayed state. Still isolated. Lacking drive. Wondering why the circumstances are still what they are.

Time passes. Grief lingers. Everyone emotes differently. The fall/winter holidays are hard. The first Thanksgiving meal without that special somebody. That first Christmas tree without a special helper to decorate with. A new year alone. Isolation of a different kind sets in.

Depression hits some hard. Anger hits others. The pandemic is still here after so many months. Some haven’t moved on but some have. Isolation. Stress. Loneliness.

Check on your loved ones. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I share my losses to help others who may still be grieving alone or in silence. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to miss that person. That’s all part of the process. You will have good days. You will have days that are a mess. Just keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. You can do it.

It’s time to honor the memories and cherish the moments you had with that special person with others. I’ve really thought about what I will do this holiday to make sure I include the one who’s missing in the celebrations of my family.

Their spirit can be echoed on in many ways. May you have a peaceful holiday no matter how you celebrate this year.

Make the most of what you have. Make memories. Share the special moments while you can. Even if it’s virtually.

friendship

My Independence WOD or Nod

My Independence WOD is really a nod to all those survivors living independently after a tough loss this year.

Each year on the fourth of July I normally run the Peachtree Road Race. This year was postponed. I’m getting used to the word postponed. Heard it way too many times in the last 90 days. Instead of focusing on the negative postponement I made it into a positive day.

I completed the 1776 WOD with a group of good friends and two of my kids. It wasn’t the hardest workout I’ve ever done but it was a grinder. One you had to push through. Lifting heavy weights, high repetitions of a daunting task, and so on.

While I was completing this WOD I wanted to honor of all the strong women in my life who are living independently without their loved one due to recent losses. Just a nod or tribute to celebrate their strength. Nothing said over the PA system, just a silent nod in a WOD.

Who knows what next year will bring on Independence Day but for today I am celebrating.

 

family

Loss

Today was a hard day. I had to bury my dad.

His passing during the pandemic did not make saying goodbye easy. In actuality it was far more complicated than I could have imagined.

The delays started with scheduling. Only one funeral a day impacted how many days after death the funeral would actually take place. This was the first oddity.

I am choosing to write about this only because many will never know or experience how the pandemic impacted saying good-bye for me and my mom. Life offers perspective from many viewpoints. For me I thought this was an interesting perspective to share.

There was no wake. No time for folks to come and pay final respects. There was only a small window of time the day of burial for a selected handful of people to pay respects. This alone makes mourning the loss hard. So many didn’t get to see him off as we might have envisioned.

Some couldn’t come because of fear of germs. Some chose not to attend because of riots. Some were not able to attend because of their sheer age and restrictions in the area. This made my mom very sad.

No hugs for loved ones. No special memories shared. And how could I forget those who could come had to wear masks and keep their distance when all everyone really wants to do is give a hug to show your love and support for the loss suffered.

One vivid memory I have of the day was when my cousin stood about 15 feet away, fully masked saying “I’m going stay over here just in case you have corona.” Who wants to feel like they have a disease when burying their spouse. So bizarre but this is how today is.

Despite all of the above, the send off was as beautiful as it could be with current environmental conditions. As we forge ahead in our grieving process we will hold on to the memories made over time. There were many. Choosing to focus on what we had vs. what we lost is how we choose to move ahead.

I will immerse myself in a project to honor my dad. I will find a way to carry his spirit in all I do. I will find a way to let my children know of the values he gave to me.

I hope this funeral perspective let’s you think of how others may have been impacted by loss during corona above and beyond the loss of privilege of toilet paper.

family

Buddy’s Sign

Today was a rough day.

I lost my dad in his battle with dementia. It was never fun to watch the final days but it was part of the aging process.

Weeks turned into days. Days turned into hours. The third of three arrived this week. The universe whispered to me earlier in the week when I wrote another post about the heartache and loss of the week. My set of three.

I was remaining optimistic but had a inkling fate was on the horizon. Today as I was on my way to pay my final respects when I stopped at a red light and saw the building in the photo below.

What an irony. It’s a sign on a broken down building bearing the name Buddy. Never in my travels on this road have I seen this sign, although from the looks of it it has been there for a long time. And I’ve passed it many times without noticing.

To me is was a special sign. A sign from my dad whose nickname was Buddy. The building was old, boarded up and seemed to be past its prime. I will stick to my gut and think that was my dad waving to me letting me know he is on his way to bigger and better things. Moving on his way in peace.

No more stress of corona for my dad. He got his wings and is soaring high wherever his travels take him. It may be bye for now, but I have plenty of memories to hold on to.

I’ve posted in the past about my photo reel. It’s real for sure. It has not only still pictures but videos to hold on to as memories. The sounds you can’t replace are embedded in videos. The smiles you don’t want to miss are captured in the still shots. For those who hesitate to take the picture, just do it. You will have online catalog of memories better than any photo album sitting on a shelf or in a box.

My dad was strong. He lived a great life. He may be gone but he is not forgotten.

It is now June 3rd. A few days after the loss of my dad. As I finalize this post it was important to post this today. June 3, 1935 was the day my dad was born. He would have been 85 today. He didn’t quite make it to his milestone birthday but that doesn’t mean I can’t give him a birthday nod today.