A Year of Reflections: Things I want you to Know about Me Now that I have Lost my Dad
I have put a lot of thought into this and the concept, although not new, could be helpful to others looking to verbalize their thoughts. I lost my dad almost a year ago, now. It was sudden and it sucked. This was very hard but it should not minimize anyone who lost their parents due to sickness — that is hard to watch as they slowly dwindle and the light you knew inside of them slowly goes out — my heart goes out to you. Seriously. Maybe we will be able to commiserate on some of the thoughts I am going to share…
The pic above was taken July 4th, 2014, the day before my dad died. I was back at my parents’ condo/timeshare at the beach, packing up my mom and dad’s things, as my mom asked me to (she, Ben and my aunt were all still at the hospital — Jess, Jerid and I were packing things up) and I was in charge of electronics for the most part. So I started making sure we had everything and I went to my pop’s laptop, which he, ironically, never let me touch EVER and shut it down. The bottom line, “Log out Joel Goodman” seemed symbolic since at this point, pop’s heart was already failing him… needless to say, it was a rough weekend.
As this other post said: Do not try and understand. Unless you have lost a parent, you can’t (and no, a grandparent is NOT the same, unless that grandparent raised you like a parent would — believe me, I know. I lost all four of my grandparents by 2008 in addition to my father last year and several other very close people who are near and dear to my heart), and you don’t really want to, trust me on this. I do not wish this pain on anyone.
Do not, and I mean do NOT, complain to me about your parents. It will not go over well. Your parents are a gift. They gave you life. They might suck from time to time or may have sucked the whole time you knew them, but if you can still pick up the phone and call them, then you should do it. What this means, let me break it down: there are some people I know who complain about having a weird relationship with their parents but dont want to make time to call, visit themor change it in anyway. There are some people who complain to me about having to spend time with their parents when they would rather be doing x y or z…. your parents love you, bottom line. They want the best for you and you complaining to me when you can still go see them, makes me cringe because I cannot go and see my dad anymore. I take the time to speak with my mom regularly, ok… daily… and it is worth it to me.
Which brings me to my next point: tell your parents you love them as much as you can, because no matter how much you tell them, it will never be enough. Once they are gone, you will understand, even if you told them every day and held their hand as they left this world, it still feels like it is not enough. I know that no matter how many times I took an opportunity to tell my dad I loved him, it was never enough…. so I say it as often as I can to my mom and even to my brother… and if you know the interesting relationship Ben and I have, then you know this is a big development — we aren’t a touchy-feely family.
Father’s day sucks. Their birthday sucks (for me, february). Their death day sucks (July). Holidays suck. Hell, most days suck. Because I can’t randomly call my dad anymore. My mom has tried her best to fill the spot pop left and for the most part while she has done her best, no one can replace the hole he left. Don’t get me wrong, my mom is awesome! She has a place, a large place in my life. She is my mom, one and only, she just isn’t my dad. Which goes back to my earlier point and a point I made on facebook on father’s day. Your parents made you who you are, genetically, morally, and all other ways. They shaped and molded the base you that is in front of us today. They deserve more recognition than just one day a year or two (father’s/mother’s day and their birthday). They are epic human beings for putting up with your shit for the last several decades. Let’s be real. I was a douchebag in college and for a few years beyond. My parents still put up with me. Just like your still put up with you.
And yknow what, sometimes I am angry. I am angry when people act like it is another day, when people act like it is all ok, and sometimes I am angry for no reason at all. Does the pain dull over time? Maybe but I am most definitely not there yet and it all comes in waves. I have mostly been able to move forward in life, in work, and in general, but there are days where it all really gets me. The morning of father’s day, after reading numerous “My father is the best, Happy Father’s Day” posts, I wrote this:
I read a lot about dads but often only on Father’s Day, which is somewhat unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, dads and moms deserve to be recognized but as we age, we should take more than a day to thank them for all they have done for us.
I lost my dad and it blows.
So take some time to spend with your dad (and your mom) today and every day because (as morbid as it sounds) you may not have them around forever. But celebrate them while they are here and tell them how much youappreciate, love, care, and respect them for all they have done to make you the human you are today.
Happy Father’s Day, to every dad of all kinds.
However, the post was edited and reedited before being posted, because when I wrote it, I was angry. Angry that people who still have their dads don’t realize how lucky they are except a handful of days a year and the rest of the time, take their dads for granted. I was angry that my dad is gone. I was angry that it hurts to make a post about my dad now. I am just angry. I am working on it. I went through a lot of healing to get to where I am at now. Now, I keep the anger in…. it is no longer right at the surface and I am no longer ready to pounce for insensitivity.
I will say that with the dulling of the anger, also came a dulling of the continuous hurt… now it just hurts in waves, when I see something that triggers a memory or something similar. For example, INKnBURN made a tuxedo shirt that my dad would have LOVED — I know he would have loved it. He had one that was not in tech tee form and we discussed burying him in it… seriously. We did. hehe
Almost a year ago, we were canceling our annual fourth of July party and heading down to VA beach because my dad had had an accident. (and when I say annual, i mean EVERY year, giant blowout) We decided not to have the party this year. My husband’s and my heart just aren’t in it… it is hard to feel joy and happiness and excitement when so much pain occurred just a short time ago.
My dad will never get to see his grandchildren… of course we will tell them about him but he will never get to teach them the life long lessons that have stuck with me so thoroughly. Lessons about competition with other and yourself, ambition, intelligence, learning… the list goes on. The competition that was bred into my brother and i (we are 14 months apart… he is older) fed into the ambition and drive that I developed as an adult… could not have been a coincidence. heh. My mom and I actually sat and had a discussion about this the other day.
But I digress….
My dad meant so much to so many people and now when I have memories come up, they are happy, albeit still tear-filled, they include laughter now as well instead of my excusing myself and going to a room alone and bawling. My husband has worked with me through a lot of this stuff. My dad’s death hit him hard as well. My dad really touched so many people. I remember on the fourth last year, my buddy Ivan called me to tell me that he was so upset because of the loss of my dad and he had just gotten engaged. I told him to stop because he was supposed to be happy right now and that the news of his engagement was the best news I had all weekend. Point being, in ultimate sadness, another reflection I have been able to look back on, is that my family and I are truly blessed. We have made some amazing friends (who are really more like family), who really came together to help us in this time of such terrible and epic loss. Even months after the fact, a lot of my friends are still willing to listen to me whine about the effects my father’s death has had on me.
While I know I have not achieved all of the things that I think would really make him puff his chest out in pride, I know I have still done him proud. When I worked at NASA (and my brother did and does still work with NASA as a Science geek), he would walk around saying my kids work at NASA… WHAT? and when I was at the Smithsonian, he would come see me at work, but it was secretly to go to the butterfly garden. If he could see me now, as a software enginerd at Fish and Wildlife Refuges, he would use every excuse to go to all of the refuges 🙂 . He really cared about all people. He took my husband on photography trips with him and taught Jerid a lot about photography and many many other gadgets. He inspired and guided my friends on life decisions and was always willing to help where he could. <sigh> I may never actually live up to the high standards my pop set but I am certainly going to try my ass off to do so. And I just hope that Jerid and I can instill half of the lessons my dad (and mom) instilled in me and my brother as we were growing up.
I will leave you all with this final thought: losing a parent is a terrible loss, but everything is a learning experience. If we are lucky, we have/had someone we could learn from throughout our lives; however, even those where there is no love lost, remember that in death, we can all learn something from those we have lost as well as the lives they lived. 🙂