I’m a few days late on the Memorial Day Post; but frankly, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write it. But today, I’m feeling a bit braver and ready to share.
Memorial Day is a time to remember the soldiers who have fought for our country- those who have lived and those who have died. An admirable and truly important holiday. For many it is also a day to remember those that we have loved and lost.
I remember my Father. My Mother-in-Law. My Grandma. My Grandpas.
I miss them so.
Memorial Day Weekend was one of those special times with my Dad. My parents divorced when I was 11, but I spent my weekends with my Dad. And Memorial Weekend was Folklife Festival for us. It had all of the things my Dad loved- it was free, crazy, full of life and music, and you never knew what might happen. The jugglers were my favorite part. I must have spent hours watching them. As an amateur young juggler, they entranced and inspired me. They even let me practice with them a few times, to my endless delight! And of course, at 13, I was in love with all of them. My Dad indulged me, and let me stay as long as I wanted. He was always surprisingly sensitive to the teenage girl’s heart for some crazy reason.
We always parked illegally. My Dad took a solemn oath at some point in his life that he would never pay for parking. He figured he payed less in parking tickets than he would have for parking- plus there was the principal of the thing. Sticking it to the man and all of that.
If possible, we would attempt to fit a Mariner’s Game into the weekend. Another life principle for him- it wasn’t really a great weekend unless baseball was involved.
And then there was the food. He loved to try new things, so of course I wanted to join in and show him that I could be adventurous too. He even got me to eat sea urchin once. I still don’t know how that happened.
Who could forget the music? Bluegrass was our favorite, but all of it entranced me. The room full of instruments that you could touch and play with made me giddy with greed. It always made me think of what could have been if I’d learned to play each instrument I encountered. Another life, endless possibilities.
For me, it was a little slice of heaven. Just me and my Dad. So much laughter, such joy. And wonderful memories to cherish. This is what I remember on Memorial Day. This is what made me stand over my sinkful of dishes and weep this Memorial Day. I miss him so much. He’s been gone almost 14 years and those memories can still bring me to my knees. One minute I’m laughing about something we did, and the next I’m weeping over something that we will never do.
We will never walk Seattle Center together again, never see another Mariners game, never go camping, never go get a coke, never talk on the phone, never stay up way too late watching TV, never laugh, never cry, never…
Mainly I thought of my husband and kids as I cried. How I wish they had known him. So much of myself and who I am is because of him- but they will never be able to see that. And there is so much of who he was that I want them to know and be influenced by as well. How do I share him with them? I know I will never forget him, but my fear now is that they will never know him.
I am comforted that one day we will all be together in heaven. How I long for that day. But how do I live in the now, but not yet of that reality? Does he see my family and is he as proud of my children as I am? I feel like is sees us. I hope so.
I guess what I hope for most is that he is at peace now, and I believe he is. And truly, my heart is as well. I am deeply thankful that although his death was sudden and unexpected, I have no regrets. He knew how desperately I loved him, and I know how deeply he loved and treasured me.
I remember the thing that rocked me most when he died was wondering how I would live without his love. His love was a foundation for me. It had always been. Was I loved less now that he was gone? But I’ve learned that I needn’t have worried. That foundation will always be there. And God has since sent my husband Dan, who’s love has brought stability and depth I never imagined possible.
So, today I remember my Daddy. I miss you so much. I’m so thankful for what time we had together. And that one day we will see each other again. Lord, show me how to share him with my husband and children. That they might know and love him as well.
There is so much more to say… about how I will never “move on,” but I have learned to live again; about how I still have trouble sleeping; about how I had to figure out how to say goodbye; and about how to deal with death in layers, as the waves come upon me. But my heart is tired, as I’m sure yours is becoming.
Death hurts us so deeply, and none of us know how to talk about it. I hope that my small attempt to share with you my journey will allow you to step out and share yours with those you trust. Know that you are not alone. And if you are still in the raw newness of loss, it will never get completely “better.” But someday you will learn to live in it and find healing and joy again. There is no end to this tunnel. But there is Light. And there is Love. Find friends and family to walk with you. And may you find Peace in your pain.