Two Years

Dad collage
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In high school and college, I spent hours honing my ability to craft good introductions for my papers. I love finding the perfect first line for anything — essay, article, short story, blog post. However, I have found no good way to introduce the fact that Dad died two years ago today.

You try to convince yourself it’s just a day. Tell yourself it’s simply the combination of a day and a number in a month that happens every year. After all, people say that age is just a number. Weight is just a measurement of gravity. If we lived on the moon, our weight would be six times lighter. If we lived on Mars, a year would be almost twice as long. So then I wonder, Would that have given us more time with him?

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.
— Leo Tolstoy

I never really blogged about how that first year went. I didn’t really blog about anything, actually, for over a year. All those firsts came around: first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, a family funeral, first birthdays, first Father’s Day, a family wedding. To believe he’s  watching over us is comforting, but his absence at special occasions still leaves a gaping hole.

I’m not really sure there’s any trick to coping other than the clichés of getting out of bed every morning, putting one foot in front of the other, and taking it day by day. Not long after Dad died, I sat in my Nurse Practitioner’s office for a regular weight-monitoring visit (that’s really more irregular) and relaying to her what had happened over the past few months. When I was done, she asked, “And how are you?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said.

“Really? You lost your dog, then your dad, then started a new job in the span of three months. Those are some major transitions and stresses.”

I had not stopped to think of it that way. Perhaps I wouldn’t let myself do that in order to keep myself from buckling under the pressure? Usually, anxiety doesn’t affect me until AFTER the stressful event is over. In this case, it came almost a year later.

Starting last July, I found myself overemotional, hypersensitive, panicky, irritable, moody… you name it. For weeks I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until after that first anniversary, during a journaling session, that the thought rolled out of my head, through the pen, onto the paper. As of 24th, I was more than a year removed from his presence. I could no longer say, “At this time last year, Dad was still here.”

Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.
— Earl Grollman

In January I felt ready to get out of the funk, to do something that made me feel as if I were actually living, not just existing. The process has gone more slowly than I wanted and left me beyond frustrated — proof that I am my father’s daughter. I had to take time off from the gym because of a knee problem, which then kept me from doing some physical challenges I wanted to do. That’s better now, so I’m trying again to get back in the groove. And I’m writing more as well.

I heard this song a week or so ago that summed it all up what I was trying to do. My favorite thing about music is how it can express so much of our own feelings in just a few notes and words. May it inspire you to get out of whatever funk you might be experiencing as well.

Who Am I and What Have I Done with Myself?

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I’ve talked before about struggles with my weight. I was pudgy as a child — “pleasantly plump,” if you will — and the mild teasing and occasional ostracism as a young person led to issues that I believe kept me from losing the weight for good because I felt like if I lost the weight I was giving in to their negativity.

For the record, let me just say again that accusing overweight people as lazy lumps who need to “put down the chicken leg and get off their ass” is not the way to motivate someone to lose weight. One of the worst statements I’ve heard is, “There’s no excuse for someone to be overweight.”

I’ve stood up on the soap box about that issue before (see link in first line), and I can say that for me, the negative experiences I had as a kid regarding my weight created a rebellion in my mind and made me want to eat what I wanted. These incidents didn’t happen daily for years and years, but it didn’t take long for the damage to settle in my subconscious.

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Stream of Consciousness at Its Finest

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I had a shitty day on Tuesday. Actually two out of the three days this week have been shit days, and last night my mind raced and raced — unable to settle on anything. From a writing blog I follow, I’ve learned a technique of channeling those scattered, frantic thoughts into writing, so I picked up the pen and paper and followed an instruction on writing in the present moment. I chose a physical thing to describe: the light that hangs over the breakfast nook in the kitchen — and just started. I decided to share it with you to show you the inner workings of this writer’s brain. 

It’s darker than my usual self, but as I said, I had a shitty day. In the end, the writing helped.

The chain in the pendant light over the breakfast nook has a loop Mark1 made to raise it higher because Nanny kept bumping into it on the day we moved in. A circular, brass plate clings to the ceiling with a chain link extending from the center and stretching down to the frosted plastic dome trimmed in bright brass.

It illuminates the area where the dog eats and shits because we never had any kids to feed in that corner of the house — no chocolate chip pancakes served on Saturday mornings, no sugary cereal spilled in a rush to eat before getting to school.

We’ve lived in this house almost eleven years and never really made it a home. We’ve hung pictures on flat white walls and mowed a yard full of weeds. We talk of redecorating but never follow through — not enough money or not enough time. We should do this first or that, but we never do. We put off or wait until the perfect time that never arrives while our house sits with echoes and dull canvases of what could have been.

[1] Mark is my brother.