In the five months since my dad passed, I have been hit with moments of grief at the most unusual times. A friend of mine described these as ‘waves of grief’ – you are feeling good, making progress, having a ‘normal’ day, and all of a sudden something triggers a memory, and you are knocked down. As the days, weeks, and now months have passed, it has become much easier to pick myself up from these moments. I have even been able to get through some of them without losing it and becoming a hysterical mess, but taken it to the other extreme. I was able to smile, and bask in the joy of that memory, realizing just how lucky I was to have had that experience with my dad. Is this growth? is this healing along the grief journey?
Some of the triggers are small, and pass without much fanfare. Passing by an item at the bakery that I used to bring him, and I’d feel that tug in my heart knowing I would not be ordering it that day. Putting rice pudding in my shopping cart at the Market Basket, and remembering two aisles later, that he was gone. So much of my dad was imbedded into my daily life. I might not have seen him daily, or sometimes weekly, but he was such a huge part of me, that he was fully encompassed in my soul.
This week, my youngest daughter and I stopped for a quick breakfast at an old fashioned ‘luncheonette’ near our home. The kind with a counter, silver bar stools with red vinyl seats that spin, and the happy short order cook greeting you as you came in. My dad LOVED a good local luncheonette. The luncheonette was not the trigger, but the bar stools is what got me. They were all empty, but what did I see? I saw my dad on one, and a skinny 5 year old girl, swinging her legs, and talking his ear off, relishing in alone time with her daddy. My dad would take me out early on Saturday mornings to “Mr. Donut”, and we would have breakfast. Sometimes, an elderly gentlemen that was a regular, (I knew him as Mr. George) would let me pick out a dozen donuts to bring home for my sisters. It feels like yesterday, but we did this for a very long time. I was a lucky girl in so many aspects, being the youngest of 5 daughters, my alone time with my dad was precious. That never changed. Up until the last moment I spent with him alone with him before he passed. I think we will be spending more time at that luncheonette.
The grief journey is hard. The road is not easy, but the pain is lifting, and my strength is coming back. My daughters paid me the highest compliment last night when they told me they were proud of me and how well I was handling things now. I said “really? I’m still struggling girls”. But they reminded me where I began five months ago, and where I am now, and coming from the two that have been affected the most by my grief, I felt a sense of victory. Maybe, just maybe, I am going to be okay.
I love you dad. I miss you. Thank you for the signs.