When life doesn't stop....

by Anita
(Somerset, Kentucky)

A year ago my father pulled a muscle under his right arm. Just something that simple triggered a chain reaction that sent my entire family on an emotional roller coaster ride that changed everything.

As the weeks progressed, we waited for him to heal and found that the pain he experienced only became worse. When he went to the doctor to find a diagnosis, the tests began. First one idea then another; one doctor after another, the waiting and the pursuit of finding answers wasn't what we expected.

By the time the biopsy was completed it was the end of May. His prognosis was a shock.

Finally, we had a concrete idea of what we were dealing with. That was actually a relief because sometimes the unknown is harder to deal with than the reality of truth.

My dad was such a "man". He approached this time of his life the same way he did everything: "this is the reality. It can't be changed. This is what needs to be done. This is what I want to do. This is what you need to do for your mother."

Ten weeks from his diagnosis he was gone from our presence. Being with him when he passed was the best hardest thing I have ever done.

There is such mercy in this. For this I am grateful. However, it leaves me having a great compassion for families that endure a long and suffering event.

My dad and I were...interesting. He tried to tell me what to do, I tried to make sure I did everything but what he wanted. I was a good kid but as I got older and started to develop my own opinions and ideas, we became for a while two rocks throwing themselves at each other seeing which one would break first. I didn't overstep the boundaries of respect, but I didn't back away from telling him the truth either. The irony of this is he is the one that taught me how to be diplomatic in difficult situations.

Actually there were many things that he taught me how to do. He taught me how to mop a floor, take care of my hair, hand drywall, pour concrete, run barbed wire, vacuum carpets, as well as many other practical things. He also, encouraged me to be independent, think for myself, make wise choices, and be fearless with responsibility.

But right now, I want to stop. I find myself staring into space, looking at nothing in particular with an emotional void in the air around me.

He wasn't the best father but I miss knowing he was physically present. There was a realness in my heart that stood in the shadows, back in the corner of my mind, just knowing that he was a phone call away if I needed him. He was a bedrock of security that I took for granted because I had never been without that sense of safety. I "knew" within every molecule of my being that he loved me.

Yesterday was six months since his death. I did not do very well. I woke up wanting to cry. I prayed for strength and comfort to make it through my day; sometimes moment by moment. I took care of the responsibilities at hand. But why does it feel like everything is so overwhelming? Why does it feel like I am in slow motion or two steps behind my life?

The pendulum swings first one way then another and most of the time I am either angry to the core at everything or I am numb. Then I am very peaceful and more myself. But when I am angry and numb, I have very little patience with anyone or anything. Other people and their, what I perceive as trivial, problems get on my nerves. I am functioning within a life I had prior to his death without a piece of that life and my equilibrium has me feeling like a car with one tire out of balance.

The emotions that float to the surface are full of force and uncontrollable. I find myself transferring my anger to others all the time knowing it isn't their fault. I use their behavior to justify wanting to rage against this grief. I am finding it interesting that others are impatient with me because I am hurt and that only makes things worse.

Life is not slowing down even though I have had to. My stress level has increased because of circumstances and other peoples intolerance and selfishness. There are days when I don't know if I can bare the weight of my everyday life not to mention one more whiny individual that really has no idea what I am experiencing. It makes it harder when the people closest to you appear to ignore what you need in that moment. That makes me tired.

The adult side of me is logical enough to know that I am not the only person that is in this place. However, the little girl in me that misses her daddy is so angry and hurt that she wants to scream. I want to sit in an ash pit and pour dirt on my head. If I weren't so vain I would shave my head. I want to have the time to acknowledge that this is where I am and have people say "it's o.k. You can stop for a minute and be where you are.You have carried this for me once. Let me carry something for you for awhile." There are a few who understand and that is helpful. No one wants to sit in the ash pit alone.

Grief if a hungry beast. It feeds and then takes a nap. I am finding that it is not as hungry as it was two months ago but when it awakes, it's roar is just as loud.

Life doesn't stop. Living doesn't stop even though we want it to. Death is just as important it birth. If it wasn't why do we mark the date. I am just charting unfamiliar territory within my soul and I am a little scared about where it is taking me and what I will find.

Overall, in spite of how I feel, I know some things are true. This is not the only way I will feel. Hope, although, sometimes fleeting, is present. Love, the real kind, doesn't go away. And I am not alone.

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