6/10/16 Feeling lost
Over the years I was no stranger to grief, or the grieving process. I suffered a miscarriage. I had to terminate a pregnancy. I witnessed first hand two dear friends losing a child, and have watched and joined in their struggle in the never ending grief journey. I lost 3 friends in one year, Patricia, Andrew, and Brad. Losing my friends was indescribable. Each one made an impact on me if different ways, and I continue to grieve for them, and keep their memories close to my heart.
That being said, I never truly experienced grief until this past February. While not unexpected, the death of my father, has been the hardest. I knew my dad was going to die. i thought I was prepared. I read all the books, I spoke to all the professionals, I convinced myself I was ready. I spent many hours alone with him while he was asleep in those last hours, pouring out my heart to him – finally telling him everything I never had the courage to tell him before. I had no guilt, nothing left unsaid, and I knew he was sure of my deep never ending love and admiration for him. His passing was beautiful. Surrounded by his 5 girls and my mom, I held his hand and lay in bed with him, we prayed the Our Father & the Hail Mary, and he took his final breath. It was as we planned, and as I prayed it would be. But I learned in that moment, you are never ready to lose a parent.
It’s life changing really. The role reversal of who takes care of who had already taken place when my dad got sick, but up until then, he was still taking care of me. That’s what a dad does. That’s what my dad did. My role of being Daddy’s little girl in an instant was gone, and I was (and am) truly lost.
My dad hated hospitals. We promised to keep him home, and that is what we did. Looking back, although not a realistic plan, I wish someone had thought to hide a video camera to capture the comings/goings of my moms house during the six weeks we took care of dad. As sad as it was, it was an incredible time. Our family is awesome. We came together with one common goal. Take care of dad, and make sure mom was okay. We succeeded, and in doing so, solidified our relationships as sisters like never before. All walls came down. Any past issues or misgivings with one another went out the window. We were just “us” the Reilly girls. We all assumed a role without realizing what those roles were, and we carried out our duties with expertise.
Still, I am lost.
The toughest part for me of that afternoon was watching my dad leave the house for the last time. You don’t realize the impact of something like that until it actually happens. Wrapped in an American Flag, being carried out the front door of the house he was so incredibly proud of. Heidi and I will always have this image imbedded in our hearts, another goodbye we were the privileged two to have. Why do I mention this memory when there are so many? I guess to me it’s part of the journey. Dad’s journey after his brave valiant battle, and the beginning of our journey in this grief process.
The Reilly girls got through the days following my dads death because we had each other -yes, we all have incredibly supportive spouses and children and extended family and amazing
friends, but in the end we are the Reilly girls. We sat in front of his casket, proud as ever, knowing how much he loved his girls.
Still, I felt lost.
For me, once I got home after it was all over, having to leave Mom, and my sisters and return to my life in New Jersey, that is when I think reality hit me the hardest. My world as I knew it was suddenly over. The dynamics of my weekly trips to Long Island had changed, I could unpack my “emergency” overnight bag I kept in the car, I wasn’t racing down the Long Island Expressway afraid I was going to miss something, or god forbid be too late. Most of all I was lost. I wasn’t surrounded by the Reilly girls. I couldn’t sit next to mom and be comforted, I couldn’t fight with Heidi over who got the couch or dad’s chair in the living room, I couldn’t try and convince Karen to cheat on her diet, tell Sue to get in her pajamas before bedtime, or plead with Donna to stop at The Rolling Pin Bakery for scones on the way over….
In speaking to my sisters, we were all lost…..
It’s 3 months now, and we are finding our way back. There are more good days than bad, and it seems that if one of us is having a bad day, the rest are too… One of the last things my dad said to us was “We will do things together, because HE wants us to do things together”. I know this is true, because this is what we have done. We are doing this together, so maybe soon, I won’t feel so lost.