Another Memorial Day done. This will be our 5th one without my dad. I can’t say enough how time goes by so fast, but yet so slow.
The cemetery was beautiful. Now that my mom has moved I will probably only visit it on Memorial Day. We also went to another cemetery where my great grandparents are buried. It had an amazing flag display that was very humbling. I explained to Rachel what the flags stood for and that each one was for someone who had died in a war. Most about the age of her brother. 19.
I want to share a moment I had at my dad’s grave. I have written about how robins to me are a sign of my dad. I see them in my yard a lot and on our fences and feel like it’s my dad saying “Hi. I see you. I’m with you. I’m ok.” My husband just smiles when I say that, I’m pretty sure he thinks I wacko, but you can’t dismiss this. We were standing by my dad’s headstone talking with my uncle (my dad’s brother) and his wife and a robin just flies up and lands on his head. It just sat there for a couple of minutes. Not scared. Just looking around. Then he flew away. I was like “Did that really just happen!?” It gave me goosebumps.
They are still with us. Sometimes we just forget and just need a robin to land on our head to remember.
I just realized that a few weeks ago. After 5 years of having the word Glioblastoma in my vocabulary I don’t cry at stop lights. That may seem like a small insignificant thing, or even really random, but I did most of my crying about my dad in the car. It was the only place I was alone.
But grief is a very fickle thing and I do still cry. Like right now at my desk. Fleetwood Mac’s song Landslide just played on my Spotify radio and it actually made me suck in my breath. It’s amazing how music can bring back a feeling so strongly.
Take a deep breath and continue.
My mom is all settled in her new home. She is really happy. She called me yesterday and told me that she was going to go on a date. That was a weird conversation. I was actually surprised at how excited I was for her. We giggled and laughed. Then I was nervous for her and it brought up all the questions of “What if she gets married?” “Does that mean I have step siblings?” “So she’ll have more grandkids?” all in a matter of 10 seconds while she was talking to me about it.
It was weird. But I was not sad.
I just want her to be happy. That is all my dad would have wanted too.
The world just keeps spinning, and life does go on.
It’s been a long time since I posted. There isn’t a lot to report these days. Which is a good thing. My mom sold her house and bought a new one in a different state. I have to admit I was not sad walking out of that house for the last time. There were no happy memories there. My dad got cancer 5 months after they moved in and then died there 10 months later. Her new home is beautiful and just what she wanted. She will be done with her LDS mission in February and will move right into the new home.
While cleaning out her house I came across many of my dad’s things. It brought back lots of happy memories. My mom downsized a lot so we acquired a lot. My husband still asks why I brought random things home like an ugly 1970’s plastic cup or a container that held bulk laundry detergent. Because they remind me of my dad. I smile every time I drink out of that stupid glass.
(This picture was taken over Labor Day weekend. My mom just turned 70 and she rocks! I want to be as cool as she is when I am her age.)
This will be our 4th holiday season without my father. It does get easier, but I still find myself wanting to call and tell him something and then remembering I can’t. I don’t imagine that ever goes away.
I think about closing down my blog but my numbers are still so high and I am still getting emails, so I hope it is helping others. That is the main reason I started writing it. I have seen a surge in my numbers, especially this last 6 weeks, which doesn’t necessarily make me happy. That to me means someone new has just gotten the diagnosis and is searching desperately for any answers. It makes my heart hurt. To you I wish you comfort and peace. I am sorry you ever had to google the word Glioblastoma.
This was our 4th Memorial Day without my dad. It is still hard to comprehend that it has been that long.
These past few weeks have been hectic at our house with some big milestones. My son graduated from high school and my daughter was baptized. I remember one of my first thoughts after dad was diagnosed was that he was going to miss these specific events. The few weeks leading up to all this were hard. I would cry every time I thought about it. The graduation didn’t end up being as hard as the baptism. My dad would have been the one to perform my daughter’s baptism. Instead my brother did. Which was wonderful. We (My brother, Rachel and I) had a little melt down cry in the hall right before he did the baptism. But it turned out beautifully. My dad was there, we could feel the peace surrounding us.
When they posed for these pictures my mom said “Leave room for grandpa.”
We’ve been helping my mom clean out her house. It’s amazing what you can accumulate in 45 years of marriage. I found one of my dad’s journals he kept when I was 10-15 yrs old. I’m not all the way through it yet but it is comforting to be reading his words.
Thank you all for your kind emails and comments. I read them all and I apologize if I don’t respond immediately. I do pray for you and hope you all have peace in your experiences.
I love the app on Facebook called “On This Day”. It shows you what you have posted in the past on that very day over the years you’ve been on Facebook. I enjoy seeing my kids growing up, or reading silly comments that my now 8 year old made when she was little. I DON’T like it when posts like this show up:
April 6, 2012 Taken today. My dad is doing very well. He starts chemo and radiation in a week or so. Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers.
Yes, it was a happy(ish) post at the time. Now I look at it and it makes me kinda angry. I’m grateful for the time we got after his surgery etc., but I still hold a big grudge against GBM. It’s hard to think that a little over 4 years ago the words Glioblastoma Multiforme weren’t even part of my vocabulary.
Life goes on…..
My mom is doing well. She is still serving a mission for her church. She extended it even longer. She enjoys being busy. She has decided to sell her house and move before her mission is over. I think the idea of going back to her house is depressing. She wants to start cleaning it out this weekend and asked me to come down and help her. So, a day of crying and boxing stuff up. Yeah for a fun weekend.
I still miss my dad. I still cry sometimes. Usually at odd moments that don’t have a huge amount of significance about anything. But like I have said before, it has gotten easier and doesn’t hurt the way it used to.
Spring is here finally and that makes me happy. The robins are back.
Someone posted this on my Facebook today in our GBM grief group. I am taking no credit for it. I did not write it. It was written by a RSnow on Reddit about 4 years ago. It is probably the best description of grief I have ever read so I wanted to share.
The question was “My friend just died, I don’t know what to do.”
Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.
I haven’t posted for awhile. I still monitor the site and answer all my email and comments. I guess after awhile there isn’t a lot to say that hasn’t already been said. I still get sad, I still miss him every day. I can’t believe that is has almost been 3 years since he died and almost 4 since he was diagnosed. Like I always say, it goes by fast, but yet so slow.
My mom is doing well. She is still serving a mission for her church. She will be done in July. She has been talking about selling her house and buying something smaller. She really has no attachment to her house. They moved into it only 5 months before my dad got sick. So it really only has memories of him being sick there. I won’t be sad to not have to visit that house anymore for sure.
My daughter is getting baptized in a few months and I asked her who she wanted to perform her baptism. Immediately she said Grandpa (yeah me too). Then we were talking a different day about who we would invite to her baptism and we said Grandpa and Grandma (meaning my husband’s parents) and she got all excited for a minute “Grandpa is going to be there? Oh yeah, he can’t.” That split second of excitement in her was sad. It’s hard to understand the completeness of death as a young child. We always reassure her she will see him again.
We put up our tree this weekend. The first ornament now is my dad’s BYU ornament. I got a little teary when I put it up. Christmas isn’t the same without dad.
I can’t believe this was our 3rd Memorial Day without my dad. Memorial Day in our family has always been a big event. A lot of cemetery visiting, picnics and pictures. Yes, my family is one of those that take group pictures around headstones and all over the cemetery. In my teenage years (when I knew every thing) I thought it was pretty creepy and tried to stay out of those pictures. Now I understand. It’s about family. It’s about kids running around in the grass. It’s about my daughter sitting on my dad’s headstone and telling me how much she loves grandpa. It’s about hugs from cousins and aunts and uncles you haven’t seen all year.
I hate the fact that that headstone even has to exist. But I do appreciate the bond that was created with my mom and my siblings because of my dad’s cancer.
My mom is doing well. She is still serving a mission for the LDS church. She has extended her time and will stay out an extra year. She is always busy and doing fun things with the other sister missionaries. She is able to come up and visit us which is nice. I am glad she wasn’t called to serve farther away.
Thank you to everyone that emails me and sends me positive comments. I apologize if I haven’t gotten back to you yet. I will. Things have been hectic this past month or two. I pray for each of you and hope that you have peace and comfort.