Friday, April 20, 2018

10 Years On

I thought I had a handle on it, I really did. I thought I had found some comfort, understanding, maybe even some familiarity in the passing of my dad. There was only one problem: I hadn't.

(Some of my favorite pictures/memories with my dad and brother)

Here I am, 10 years on, and I have come to realize I do not have a handle on it. Not fully, anyway. My life before my dad passed away was fantastic. Hard, stressful, scary, of course, cause thats just life, but I never feared it. I had the greatest parents in the world, and that alone is the most comforting thing life can offer.

On February 8th, 2008 my world crumbled. The year leading up to that date should have given me time to prepare, but it didn't. You don't understand death until the moment it happens.

(the day I was told he tested positive for Creutzfeltd-Jakob disease)

The moment my dad took his last breath was the moment I lost a part of myself. I have been chasing the feeling I had about life in my first 24 years for the past 10 years. In the 10 years since my dad passed away, I have developed fears I never had before, and while I believe in myself, I fear the love of others. I have trouble letting people get too close to me, I fear the feelings that come with fully trusting a significant other, and I fear my own strength without the backing of my dad.

Not long after my dad passed, I packed up my life and moved 3,000 miles away, from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. At the time, I told myself it was to grieve out of my hometown spotlight, get some space from the gravity of it all. Looking back, its clear I ran away.

The moment I moved away, I created an additional void. Now not only was I dealing with the death of my biggest cheerleader and support system, but I was also far away from those that knew me best. I didn't see it then. I really thought moving away was the smart choice. I thought I was grieving in my own way. There were nights I would cry, dates that would trigger me (birthdays, holidays, the anniversary, etc) which all made me think I was grieving. And I was, but not fully.

The pain I harbor from losing my dad is showing itself now more than ever. As I grow up and build a life of my own, I have questions, fears, funny stories I am just dying to tell, wins to celebrate and loses to grieve...and I feel like I am missing the guy who would be on the other end of all of it.

I wasn't ready to lose my dad on Feb 8th, 2008. I'd realistically never be ready, but at 24, I really wasn't ready. I'm a late bloomer, always have been, and I think this loss just hit me at a time when I was not mature enough to handle it. Paired with knowing you have to be strong and handle it, I think I hit <> on my own grief so I could be there for my mom. Over the years we - my mom, my brother and myself - have had highs and lows and chosen to help each other when one of us was weak. However, that has manifested itself into the ability to either feel nothing and act numb or react to a commercial, song or movie and just get sad. 

I am scared. I am scared to face the rest of my life without my dad. Who is going to give me tough love and help me through the stressful times? Who is going to remind me I don't need to be everything to everyone, or the best at everything all the time? Who is going to give me a lecture when I get too hard on myself, which is a lot of the time. Who is going to be there for whatever reason? Recently I have had an aching feeling that I may never be as strong, secure, funny, beautiful, successful or happy without my dad in my life.

Tonight I ordered a grief book, and my mom is going to arrange a time for me to chat with the counselor who Bill (her now husband) used to chat with when we was getting divorced from his first wife. Baby steps.

(His visits to the UofA campus were some of the best times)

In time I hope to find peace in the loss of my dad, learn to fully trust myself and those around me and shed some of the fears I have developed in the past 10 years. Grief is a funny thing. Heres hoping I find the punchline.

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