It's here. That day so many people said would come..and somehow they all said "it gets easier" or "the first year is the hardest". Somehow, the last few weeks I have found myself disagreeing with that statement more and more. One year ago today my father went home to heaven. It still feels like it was yesterday-the emotions are as raw as they were that day, if not somehow even more raw now. It seems like the last year has been somewhere between denial and lost somewhere in between. I haven't taken his name out of my contacts on my phone because that would just be too permanent. We've made it through all the "firsts"-which we have been dealing with on two different levels...the "first" words, steps, smiles of our sweet baby girl and the "first" holidays, birthdays, and regular days without daddy. I've tried over the last 2 weeks to do things that would honor daddy. I've cut the grass the way he taught me (which is no small feat for this grass allergic woman) and spent time with some of his favorite people. Big Daddy celebrated with a Mcdonalds Fish Sandwich (which was his choice for his first meal home from the hospital).
Grief is a funny thing. For so many years, I've worked helping others deal with their grief without really understanding what they feel. I've made the statement, "oh it will get easier...it just takes time". But I'm pretty sure I've made a commitment to myself to never say that statement to a client again because I disagree with it. I'm not sure it gets easier, in fact I think it gets downright harder. The days turn into weeks, which turn into months, and slowly it becomes harder to hold on to the memories. They lose clarity and they start to get fuzzy. I watch our oldest child and I have thought so much lately about how long it will take her to lose her memories of her poppy. Sure she can tell stories now, but time will continue to move forward and unfortunately they will become blurry. She will only remember what we tell her about him. And the baby, well.... she will only know what we tell her about him. How is it that that makes it get easier??
To mark this milestone, my mother planned a small barbeque with the people who meant so much to daddy. Today we celebrated and cried/laughed over stories about him. I was reading an article the other day which was talking about "preachers kids" and the bad reputation they often get as the "wild ones". But today I was reminded that we are actually the lucky ones. We are lucky because our parent ministers to so many people throughout our life and in turn, we have one heck of an extended family. They give back to us in ways that I never fully appreciated until I have traveled this journey with mom. I watched in awe today as friends gathered, just as they did last year to celebrate daddy and more importantly love and comfort my mom.
Last year for the funeral, I made a video to honor daddy and all of the areas of his life. I invite you to watch and meet the man we loved so much and still miss dearly. I watched it again today and I was reminded of how much fun daddy was and how much of his personality I do have. One year later, I still am reminded of how much joy he had despite the scars that Vietnam left on him. Truly he was a hero-more importantly he was OUR hero.