Tag Archives: loss

Mixed Emotions

We are coming up on 2 important anniversaries.  Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of my father’s death.  I think about him every day, and miss him more than words can say.  Fortunately, when I look back on my life, I have many special memories of our time together – riding in the car on road trips or just to his farm in Maryland, dancing to big band music at the officers’ club on a ech college gradnearby military base, moving me into my college dorm, the smile on his face when I graduated, and the hug he gave me the last time I saw him.  I am grateful for those.  They usually bring a smile to my face, albeit often with tears in my eyes at the same time.

I know I am lucky to have had him in my life for 48 years.  His life was a long, successful, happy one.  He worked hard, provided well for his family, and loved me unconditionally.  I know it is selfish to want him back, but I do.  Even with the Alzheimer’s robbing him of his memory and his intelligence, I miss his gentle smile and warm eyes.  But then I remember that several of my students over the past few years have lost fathers to cancer or heart attacks or other tragic causes, and I feel terrible for feeling so sad about my dad.  At least he got to see me grow up.  He got to know me as an adult.  And I got to know him too.  My loss isn’t easy, but it isn’t as tragic as these other men who were taken from their families, their daughters, too soon.

I know I will miss Dad every day, but I don’t want to go through the rest of my life as sad as I have been.  The problem is that I don’t know how to miss him without feeling sadness too.  I think I am afraid that if I let go of the sadness, it will feel like I don’t miss him enough.  I try to focus on the fact that he would not have wanted to go on in his condition at the end.  But it is still hard to let go and move forward.

Moving forward is what the 2nd anniversary is all about – processing inSunday will be my first wedding anniversary!  I have mixed emotions about that too. Don’t get me wrong – I am beyond thrilled to have married the love of my life!  It was a long time coming.  I am just sad that it didn’t happen years before, when my dad was still able to travel and could have been there to give me a hug and to welcome Jeanne into the family as my wife.

Recently, I have become obsessed fascinated with the idea of a medium being able to channel loved ones from the “other side”.  I am beginning to believe that the spirits of those who have passed remain with us, sort of like guardian angels, hovering over and keeping tabs on what we are doing.  The one positive thing I can hang on to about my dad passing away 3 days before our wedding is, as our Best Woman put it, that was the only way Dad could be at the wedding with us.  It isn’t quite the same thing as if he had been there in body, but I do hope that he was there in spirit – and was as happy for us as we were for ourselves.

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Dealing with loss

This has been a rough school year.  It began last fall with a young girl, a friend of many of my students from another school, dying in a car accident.  This spring, one of my students was seriously injured in another accident.  And in between that have been many losses for the people around me.

Just since January, six fathers have died.  Two friends from high school lost theirs – one dad had Alzheimer’s, the other had Parkinson’s.  Another friend from Memphis and two students all had dads who suffered sudden heart attacks.  I was at a friend’s house recently when her neighbor came over to say her ex-husband (her kids’ father) had committed suicide.

I know I am hyper-aware of people’s dads right now, since I am so worried about my own, but it still seems like I am being surrounded by the death of fathers.  Each one makes my heart hurt a little more – each one is like a preview of that moment when it will be my father.  While I hate to think about that day – I can only hope it is far into the future – I am grateful that I have had my dad for as long as I have.  My heart breaks most for my students, who both lost fathers much too young.

Dad has been there for most of life’s milestones – my high school graduation, my college graduation, the purchase of my first home.  My biggest disappointment is that by the time I am allowed to marry the woman I love (and I believe that day is coming), he won’t be able to walk me down the aisle.

This past week, I have visited several residential programs in my area geared towards memory care for Alzheimer’s patients.  My mother has looked at several more, closer to where they live.  Each one had pros and cons, but I am beginning to realize that he is going to need to move into one of them sooner rather than later.  His grasp of present reality is slipping more and more each day.  He still seems to know me most of the time – he remembers that I teach school and asks me all the time how that is going.  But he doesn’t remember that my brother is married with three children or that his five siblings have all died.

Most days, he doesn’t understand that he is in his own apartment – he often asks when he will be leaving to go back home.  One of my concerns about placing him in a care facility is that if he isn’t comfortable in his own home, surrounded by familiar things, how will he ever feel secure in a new environment?  Because I will worry about him, I really want him to be somewhere close enough that I can stop in to see him several times a week – I like to think it would be to reassure him, but I know it will really be to reassure myself!

This decision isn’t an easy one for my family.  We have to consider what will be best for Dad as well as what makes the most sense for all of us.  I’m just not sure what that will entail.  When we figure it out, I’ll let you know!