Monday, March 22, 2010

Where are YOU? We NEED you!!!


Well . . . . when it rains it pours! WHY AREN’T YOU HERE to tell us it’s going to be ok! You always seem to have your wits about you in uncertain times . I don’t know if it was a learned behavior, your degree from the “school of hard knocks” , or just your amazing fatherly way of not knowing the “right” answer but showing me cool and calm under fire.

I needed you this week albeit over something stupid, but it showed me once again the hole that exists right now . . . . WHY WEREN’T YOU HERE!!! ???? This sucks and I don’t know how long this will take to get used to this ---- all I know is I’m NOT there now! I know that you’ve been a part of each of my days, and that I always knew you were “there” when I needed to run through my pro/con list to make a decision…..I just didn’t realize how much of a subconscious security blanket you were when I needed a sounding board.

Oh, it’s not that I don’t trust my husband and our decisions. Isn’t it amazing that at our age, YOU had just lost your wife and were facing raising two kids all on your own. What gives me the right to worry about money, cars, and stability …. and feel like it’s traumatic, and you were truly making life after death choices and decisions. WOW!!

I don't feel very strong lately.  Oh, I know I'll make it and this is just a low day --- it's simply a real feeling right now.  Maybe you didn’t raise as strong of a woman as you thought you did. I’m humbled at what I miss you for -- things that happen to people every day -- . . . .. when, at my age, you were trying to decide how you were going to go on without the love of your life. It’s weeks like this that I wonder --- did you run to Grandpa Humphrey crying (although hiding it from us) and saying, “Dad, what do I do? I’m scared, I have two kids, I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, and if it wasn’t for them, I’d cash it all in.” Or did you sit in our home and think, “It’s tough, I’ve got it handled because THIS is what grown ups do!” I always saw you as the later! I never have pictured you as scared and NOT knowing the right answer.

I should be thankful and grateful that I’m not forced to face some of the events you are ---- instead I feel like a wimp. I don’t feel that I could ever have weathered the storms you and Mom did and emerged victorious. Oh no, not that I’m wishing for that --- I think I’m feeling completely unworthy of being called “strong” compared to what you endured . . . all over a flipping transmission.

I’m driving home on St. Patrick’s Day. At a stop light, I let off the brake and press on the gas, only to have the van rev as if it was in neutral. A second attempt and the van JUMPS into gear and barely misses rear ending the car in front of me. I KNEW from growing up with a mechanic exactly what was going on ---- the transmission was shot (at least in first gear). I limped it to Bill, the mechanic, told him the story and left it.

Damn it – WHERE ARE YOU!?!?!? I wanna call and tell you that my car’s broke cuz that’s what I do and you talk me through it!!!! I wanted that “Shell, it’s just a car, this is what you need to do……” talk. Next day, DJ talks to Bill, DJ then talks to me about our options, I take notes and keep thinking “Dad will know what’s the best avenue.” I’m done talking to DJ, I go to call you and BAM!!!! I realize I can’t. I know this sounds stupid --- but never in this process did it dawn on me that I can’t bounce this off of you!!! As I sat at my desk at work and reality hit --- I sunk! WHY CAN’T YOU BE HERE!?!?!?!? DAMN IT!!! I am secure in the fact that you’ll clarify and talk me through so much …. my questions and reassure me “it’s not earth shattering.” I’m a prisoner to habit and stability and you know that about me and talk me through it in a way no one else can. 

It's amazing how something as simple as a car problem can bring to light all of the times I automatically relied on you!!   How many times I KNEW you'd be on the other end of the phone.  How, even though my husband, my brother, my BFF, logic, etc can walk me through an event, YOU have ALWAYS had a special tone and way of making it "be ok"..... NO ONE can replace that ... NO ONE!!  Yea, I'm a daddy's girl ....a grown up woman, wife and mom --- but there's a bond no one can replace. 

And then tonight happened….. Nancy needs you!!! Dad, she needs you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much… Where the hell are you!?!?!?! She got a call tonight that her very best friend (the woman who’s been there every day since you died, the woman who she talks to every morning and shows her unfiltered thoughts and feelings to) was found dead today. She’s crushed! SHE DOESN”T NEED ANOTHER LOSS!!! In a matter of 55 days she’s lost BOTH of her best friends -- the other one being you. She needs YOU! She needs a hug and support and to be able to cry without feeling the need to be strong. I’m here, and I have her with us so she’s not alone – but it’s not the same. She needs you!!!! Why aren’t you here????? She’s hurting and I don’t know her in the same way you and her friend did --- all I can do is be there and hug her and hope to do and say the right thing. I’m so heartbroken for her tonight … I can’t stop crying and thinking what if it was me! What if I’d lost DJ and my BFF ----- how do you truly wake up the next day!!?? I promise you . . . . like I did before ---- we’ll be there for her. We love her so much…. but what she really wants is YOU!!!!!!! Come back, PLEASE!!! I’m begging you!!   I'm a horribly poor inadequate substitute.   You are her rock and know how to calm and reassure her . . . . . SHE NEEDS YOU TONIGHT!!!!!! 

Do you KNOW how much we all need you for so many things???  So much has happened for all of us the past two weeks --- and we are all missing you horribly!! Why did you have to go? You were our glue!!! You were our “if Dad says it, it’s gonna be ok.” You were our guy that could hold us in your arms and the world seemed ok again ----- or at least it was going to be.

I’m mad tonight at God for taking you and a little mad at you for leaving . . . .I know you didn’t choose too, but damn it we need you more than God does – if He even exists.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Anniversary to me??


Eleven years ago today you walked me down the aisle, stood with me in the front of the church while “Butterfly Kisses” played, kissed me and shook DJ’s hand and told him to take care of me. So, on my 11th anniversary, I spent the day packing up and cleaning out the house of your dreams that you never had the chance to enjoy. The house on the lake. The everyday fishing. The place that you couldn’t wait for all of us to see; for your grandkids to come spend weeks at a time; the small town; the “community”; the waking up, pouring a cup of coffee, stepping out to your second story deck and overlooking a large flowing lake that was calling for you to fish, boat, relax and enjoy it.

I’m sorry. I didn’t “get it.” When you and mom told me last September you were moving, my heart sank. I was so sad and so mad. I couldn’t understand why you’d leave your grandkids, your church you love, your good friends, your kids, your “I can be there in a few minutes” or “we’re just going to pop over” status. I hurt both for me and the fact that all these years I wouldn’t be minutes away if you needed something --- help, my husband’s tool, a visit to the hospital, lunch, dinner, etc. I was soooooooo very scared that my worst fear would happen, and I wouldn’t get there in time to say goodbye. I hurt so bad for my kids. It broke my heart trying to explain to them WHY grandma and grandpa wouldn’t be there to babysit, do Saturday morning breakfasts, come over for dinner with a quick phone call, stop by just because, go fishing at the dam site, and just be around for the day to day. I thought of all the things you and they and I’d miss out on.

And then we drove to Stockton, Missouri yesterday. As we got off the interstate and onto the two lane road that spanned 40 miles to our final destination….. I started to get it. It was wide open and the space between the houses became more and more distant. Then we went from nicely paved roads to twisty, turning road ….. and I thought (as I’m the one who has horrible car sickness) yep, that’s my dad, make sure it’s deep in the middle of nowhere and only those that can stomach the trip will find it. As we got further from “town”, I said to my husband, “How the hell did they find this place. I’m not sure it’s a mark on the map.” But in that same instant I thought …. I could see years upon years of coming here. The Nevada exit with the 180 degree curve would signal to the kids “we’re almost to grandma and grandpas.” The two lane highway would be an ok trip except if there’s ice or snow --- then DANG that last half hour is going SUCK! The right turn at the four way stop in Stockton’s town square would yell, “FIVE MORE MINUTES” and the final right turn and up and over the road with the view of the lake and the house on the left would celebrate “WE’RE HERE!!!” I can see you and mom, knowing we’re on our way, standing on the deck, looking up the road waiting to see our car turn down the street. I can picture the kids jumping out of the car, running around the huge yard and begging you to take them fishing even before the suitcases were carried inside.

Then I spent a day INSIDE your house and the life you saw, and I GET IT!! I GET IT!!! It was beautiful. I had a plethora of “what could have been” moments. I could actually SEE them! Your chair is in the living room ---- I could SEE you sitting there with the kids running around, mom and I fussing in the kitchen, and waiting for Curtis, Adrian, and Keaton to show up. I could SEE the kids running in the yard while the adults sat on the deck with a fire and cocktails watching the activity and listening to the squeals and laughter.
I had a hard time sleeping…..I laid in bed and cried, begging you for forgiveness for being so mad and cold to you and mom when you bought this place. I cried for what you didn’t get to realize. You worked SO hard while we were growing up --- working at work and in the garage to support us, missing sleep, and making sure your family was supported. You fought SO hard the last four years for your health. The new kidney seemed to give you a new lease on life. YOU DESERVED IT! Damn it! You deserved a BREAK! You deserved to just ENJOY and BE, not have to fight and worry!!!! How can life be so flipping cruel sometimes?!?!?!?

So, today, everything is packed up and ready to go! I’ve kept it together and even had laughter and GOOD memories while being here …… and mom asks “you, ok?” and suddenly, I’m NOT. You know in the movies when an individual before they pass out or die has their life flash before them --- I saw that ….. I saw years and years of trips, family moments, laughter, pictures, and more than I can write happen in front of me. And it was more than I could hold in. I GET IT!!!! The ONLY part that sucked about this is that it was 5 ½ hours away --- but all the sudden it seemed travel-able. I’m sorry!!! I completely get it. I see your face beaming. “Come see my lake. Go put your suit on, let’s jump on the boat. Noah, Caleb, Keaton, grab your poles and jump in the truck – we’re going to the dam for a bit before grandma finishes dinner.”

It was hard to say goodbye to something I just said hello to. And then I saw mom walk through the house and say goodbye and bury her head in Curtis and sob for a moment. It was HER dream too. I can only imagine she had all my visions plus thousands more. Somehow, though, she had made the decision that it was ok to say goodbye…..ok, maybe not ok, but what she decided this was the decision for her. For the amount I hurt ---- I can only imagine hers is, at minimum, 100 times greater.

The drive home was hollow…… the conversations with your grandsons as to why we won’t ever be going back there is beyond tough. They ADORED the place. They miss you so very very much, and, as a mommy, that breaks my heart. I’m trying my best --- but I’m not sure I’m doing it right.

I love you. I’m so very sorry for not “getting it” when I should have. I’d give ANYTHING for you to be able to live there --- I’d even help you pack, knowing it’d hurt to have you leave Omaha. ….. but that hurt could NOT compare to the hurt that exists in my heart having you NOT here at all.

Eleven years ago today you walked me down the aisle as I began the married, wife, mom phase of my life. I’d even bring my favorite bottle of wine to share if I was sitting on your deck in Stockton with my husband while saying “Cheers” with you and mom and remembering the last decade. Next year this won’t hurt so much, right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WOW!! This is a scarey primary hope is it will at some point help someone else.

So . . . . . I've spent a good deal of time the last four years providing updates on the status of my dad as he went through a massive heart attack, surgery, dialysis, two kidney transplants, a stroke and ultimately dying plus the journey with my second mom and her battle and victory with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.   I never believed anyone read those updates for anything more than keeping up what was going on with their family member, friend, colleague, etc.     Humbly, I've received an enormous amount of compliments, thank-yous, and encouragement to "not quit writing".   I began the "CaringBridge" almost out of selfish reasons --- Curtis, Nancy and I were too tired to relay the message 50 times a day --- this was a great one stop shop for everyone to check in as it fit their schedule.  I never in all my writing envisioned that it had an effect and actually touched people.

I've fought this yearning for a couple of weeks now -- but circumstances are what they are.  Since my dad died --- THERE I SAID IT .... he DIED!.... try saying that to one of the "top 5's in your life"  .... you can say it, but until you have to live it, you can not understand the enormity of those words!     Since he died on January 28th, my mind, heart, pscyhe is overflowing and I need an outlet.   So . . . . . I journal.   I mentioned it to a few people and they said "SHARE IT.  We love how you make words a reality.... share it".     I pondered .... how can I share what is written on those pages?  It's raw, it's rude, it's sad, it's mad..... it's anything but the "victorious, uplifting message I've always believed in."  

Then I had a dream.  In my dream, I saw a young man reading a blog called "Life Without  A Loved One" and he read and he wept.   He then posted a comment (and this was not MY blog in the dream) that for the first time he didn't feel alone.   I'm not a huge believer in God right now, but I saw this as a vision.  I bounced it off a few people that I trust for honesty, criticism, etc and they all said the same thing .... DO IT AND DON'T HOLD BACK!    

There are so many things in life that we all think but allow peer, social, communal or political pressure to oblige us to hold it in.   That won't happen here.  There will be good days and bad.  There will be yelling, screaming, tears, laughter, confidential, controversial topics....... it's all about what goes on with all the firsts.   The first without a cornerstone member of your life . .. . .. . . this isn't (as before) Nancy, Curtis and my update to all of you --- this is MINE --- I'm not speaking for them as we EACH have our own journey through grief.   

If you want to walk with me, I invite you to check back often.  I will update as the mood, situation dictates.   This WILL be different from CaringBridge.  I won't always have the best attitude or say that we're strong and we'll make it.  If one or 100 individuals read this --- it will be what it is .... a journey through 2010 without my dad. 

If you're still reading, then bless you.    Check back often.  Don't preach at me or tell me "it'll be ok" or "just give it time"...... yea, I'm not up for that right now.    

First true installment wil be tomorrow.  Thank you and I love each of you for your trust and your ability to take what life throws at us without sugar coating it.