A Wondering Widow Post
When I started this grand adventure, there were only a few things I feared. One of those was this two-week period in November that encompasses four colossal grief milestones. I wasn’t afraid of the days themselves; I’d already survived them once before. No, what I was afraid of was attempting to get through them all by myself, 5000 miles away from my family and friends.
I strive not to let my fears limit my life. And while I could feel my stomach starting to knot up as the first date approached, this was no exception. So I strategized. I made sure to stack my calendar with fun activities and outings with new friends. My family and friends back home were put on a regular FaceTime schedule so I wouldn’t feel so isolated. And my lovely W’s surrounded me with their long-distance love and support. And most importantly, I gave myself permission to feel the feelings, good or bad.
And I made it through the first milestone, the anniversary of losing my Dad. It kicked my a$$, but I survived. My Dad died a month after learning of Dan’s terminal diagnosis. The day I told him about it he was heartbroken since he loved Dan like his son. I didn’t want to tell him but had to fess up that I was going to break my promise to visit him every day due to Dan’s chemo schedule and care needs.
We had a heart-wrenching conversation about it. We’d already had a plan of care meeting scheduled for that day, and Dad shared with the social worker that he was concerned about his family and that he didn’t want to be a burden. He believed it was too much for me to deal with and he didn’t want me to visit anymore. He cried. I cried. Hell, the social worker and head nurse cried. (And I successfully argued my way into continued visitation rights).
That was the last time we had a two-way conversation. Dad knew caring for both of them was going to break me but that I was going to do it anyway. With each visit, I noticed he was a little further away. Dad let go intentionally, his last sacrifice to take care of his little girl. I saw it in his eyes that day that he’d made the decision. For those of you who never met him, my Daddy had a willpower like no other. He quit smoking cold turkey the day I was born. He approached everything in life that way. When nothing else would work, sheer will would win the day. He was the strongest person I’ve ever known. So when he decided that it was time for him to go, it was go time. That Friday the 13th (he was also a real joker) he’d waited until after I’d already visited and til his favorite nurses had left for the weekend. He was alone, which was how he wanted it.
People that knew my Dad have told me that I’m just like him. I take that as a huge compliment, even though I don’t always see it. But I know he’d be proud of me, willpower-ing my survival through this grief journey and $hitty milestones. He’d high-five my efforts to reframe these dates with new happy memories. And even though I broke down in a weepy mess, he’d have given me one of those magic hugs and tell me he loved me and to have faith that everything was going to be okay.
Whew. One down, three milestones to go.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce
P.S. If you are lucky enough to have your Daddy with you, please stop what you are doing and call him or visit him RIGHT THIS FREAKING MINUTE! Hug him for me. Tell him you love him for you.