Today was 2 weeks since Daddy went Home. I was so lucky that Dad left me a letter for me to read after he passed. He did his best to explain why he was so distant and absent from my life during those formative years. He explained that it was difficult for him to see me go grow up, what was a natural progression for me, for him felt as though I was being torn from him. He was so sensitive and since my mom and him had a rocky relationship all those years he thought that here was his little girl who would love him unconditionally. And I did. That darling baby smiling back at him never to disagree or get upset with him. But then he watched me grow up (from jumping onto that school bus at 6 without a care in the world, to starting competitive figure skating, then moving many miles away to go to University) and it hurt him so much so that he pulled away more and more until he sat in the background of my life. In his eyes, I didn't need him and so he drank to numb the pain. Then after I left home, Dad got sober. He came around and we started to develop a relationship around the time I got married just 3 years ago.
I found out in April 2009 that my husband and I were expecting our first child. This overjoyed Dad to think that he could have a second chance with his grandchild. He would tell his doctor "You get to call me gramps soon!" I lost the baby June 28th. Dad really took that hard. He was hurt for me and just plain hurt that it would not be and that he would not hold his grandchild. I think that day we found out that our baby was in Heaven a large part of Dad yearned to be there too. After that I heard from him over the phone less and less. On my birthday on July 14th I knew the time was close. I never got a call from him, so I called. He tried to be brave for me and sing me Happy Birthday, but his little girl knows when her daddy is not okay. I was on the plane to see him the very next day. On July 31st Dad went Home. I find comfort in knowing that Dad has met our little baby and did get to hold him or her after all.
The funeral was bearable. My brother and I organized it as more of a celebration of dad's life. Dad was a true example of how God can redeem a person's life. An example of forgiveness, redemption, unconditional love. I said a tribute to dad--a sort of thank you for all of the little joys that he had given to me that I loved so much about him. I was never daddy's little princess in my younger years, but as a budding young woman I had become his everything and I soaked in it. Like he said in the letter, I was his rock as he battled this cancer. Wow, what a privilege it was. Dad's name is "Ted" and at the funeral I carried around the "Teddy" that we brought for him to the hospice the last few days of his life. He passed away with the teddy under his arm. Tonight I can't sleep and I squeeze that teddy because the pain is so unbearable.
I play over and over in my head the last weeks of his life. It had been almost 3 months since I saw him last and I replay my reaction to seeing him over and over in my head. I had always been so strong for him, never to shed a tear. But I just held his face next to mine and cried saying "I can't hold it in anymore, I just love you so much" He held both my hands in his as we connected for a few minutes. It was the closest I have ever been with him in my life. Looking into those eyes of his and telling him how glad I was to be there, how I came as soon as I could. I wish I could go back there now.
I have really attempted to be gracious with myself, but there are times when it is not easy. Dad put my brother and I in charge of his care and making the tough decisions. My brother was often absent from the hospital during those last days. From sedation, to liquids, to pain medication I tried my best to do what I thought was ultimately best for Dad. But I still play it over in my head and wonder if I should have sedated sooner, or not at all. If I should have said more when I had the chance. Was telling him how proud of him and how much I love him enough? Did he truly KNOW it? Was I convincing? He told me in the letter that he lived for those moments we watched the news together when I was a teenager, when I sun tanned and he sat on the back porch and made me laugh, when we sat by the lake in August and we counted the 70-something windmills on the distant island across. Did he know that I too lived for those moments? Until I was living just to hear his heart beat that last night. Until I couldn't anymore, and he was free.
Dad was severely agitated and fearful at the end and I wish I could relive those days and it be more peaceful. I didn't know that after watching him go through agony for 3 days that he would quickly slip away to be gone from me forever, hours later.
I tell myself "Ashlea, it's irrelevant now--He is in a better place, free from pain." But I still obsess. I told myself after every visit that if it were the last I would be okay with that for I had made the most of every second. But I still want more visits--to hold his hand, touch his face, watch his favorite t.v. shows with him. I told him that it was okay to let go---that mom and us kids would be okay. I know all of this is true, that I will be okay, but I don't feel okay. I feel this terrible void and sadness. I try to remember happy times--better times, but it is a battle in my head. The last days stick so clearly in my mind. I had a dream the other night of those last days that was treacherous. I never want to go through that dream again. I wonder if he knew I saw in the room with him when he passed. I was out of the room moments prior. I can't remember if I told him I was back. Did he know that he was not alone?
I knew I needed some guidance so I picked up the book "glimpses of heaven" and it seems to bring me some peace until I think "well Dad never spoke of seeing angels, Dad never died with a smile on his face--so how do I know it was peaceful? Because he didn't die screaming. Yes, of course this is where my faith comes into. I know it was peaceful because God came to take him home--period. But it's still not easy to wrap my mind around everything that has happened. Why can't God give me a sign? A sign that all is well. I try talking to Dad, but it's just not the same. I started to write him a letter and am finding that to be somewhat therapeutic. Are there any books that you found helpful after your loss? Anything that can guide me toward understanding God and his reasoning for this suffering that I am experiencing?
This is the longest post ever---and I still feel like I could keep talking. Not a lot of people understand what I am experiencing. My closest friends and even family don't even bring it up. I don't want to forget my Dad or pretend he never existed. It hurts me when people don't talk about it. It is the biggest part of my life right now. He meant so much to me.
I love you all and thank you for listening and understanding in my greatest time of need.