When you hear “one year anniversary” it typically signifies a positive accomplishment and therefore causes a celebratory feeling. But for some of us, it brings only heartache as we are forced to relive certain events we’d rather have never experienced. And it further confirms there was an end to a love we never wanted to be without.
Exactly one year ago today – April 20, 2016 – we watched my dad struggle to take his last breaths until there were no more. God called him home.
The movie reel in my head plays freshly as if it happened just yesterday: the messy emotions, the finality, the extreme sadness of his departure, the darkness of death, the disbelief and shock as if I were walking in a dream world, the immediate perspective change. I hesitated to leave the hospital, as if I was leaving him behind. It was very unsettling, as my heart and mind argued that he was truly gone. I remember pumping gas right after leaving the hospital and thinking how meaningless it felt in comparison to the death I just witnessed. I don’t have time for this, I thought. I remember feeling the urgency to just run, to escape, to hide. Somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps to a place no one knew me. I remember feeling marked, as if I carried a sign that read “I just lost my dad” around my neck. And yet still I wanted to tell someone, anyone who might care.
But still, amidst all these emotions, there was peace. I had no uncertainty my dad had stepped into the presence of Jesus. Heaven never felt more real. In fact, more than ever I wanted to be there too. (A week or so before his death, I told him I was a little jealous that he may see Jesus soon. He smiled and said, “I bet.”)
God’s grace, it never depleted. It picked me up and carried me over the next few days, weeks and months. It was also seen through the love of others who poured out their kindness and generosity on our family.
On March 22nd (just a few weeks ago) I wrote, “If you were to ask me what my current feelings are at one year, I would have to say: sadness (always!) with tiny splashes of anger and acceptance here and there. Within that array of emotions there is no longer room for shock. I suppose my mind has finally accepted the reality of his death, but my heart isn’t quite sure.” However, I cannot say I’m in that place now. Tomorrow I’m having a biopsy of my uterus to see if it’s cancerous and this has caused a re-experiencing of sorts and a complete overload of emotions. To survive this overload, I’ve put myself into a protective state – not allowing myself to think or feel too deeply, at least until I find out the results in a few weeks. On the surface, I may appear fine, but I need to hold it together because if I expose any emotions then all of me will fall apart.
On January 13, 2016 – five weeks before my dad was taken to the emergency room – I wrote this in my journal: Continue reading “One Year”