Time. It's is something I always took for granted in my past. With my Dad specifically. Losing him made me realize that time, it is a precious commodity that you can never ever get back once it is gone. Use it wisely and very carefully.
So here I am, embarking on this brand new journey with the love of my life...but I had so much I still needed to resolve behind me. I struggled hard with that for the first months after meeting my husband, then he had a opportunity to move to the Windy City, and he asked me to come along. With reservation I said yes...but not because I didn't want to go...I backtracked a bit and really wrestled with the idea of moving with a man I wasn't "even married to". That idea was pushed on me by loved ones who meant well, but had no business in my decisions. Southern charm is a real thing, but so are southern traditions and at this point in my life...I had proved to be a rebel in the tradition department.
That move actually gave me something I had dreamed of for years, but never had the courage to do. Moving from Nashville to Chicago began the journey to the person I am today who learned to be brave enough to share her heart. At the time of our first move...I truly didn't feel my story was worth telling. I was still running from it in fact. Trying my best to say and do all the right things. To make sure everyone only saw the parts of my life/past that I wanted them to see. Moving represented freedom from my past. But moving also meant that I would have to reflect ( I learned this hard lesson as I was driving across state lines). No one ever told me that moving from home would rock my world. It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. Lots of tears.
The move forced me to take responsibility for me. To decide. To choose me first. Those were things I had been avoiding for a very long time. So I said goodbye and moved, forward.
Remember that summer several years back from this move when I said goodbye to my Dad for the last time in person...the one where we promised to stay in touch and didn't, well that is were these series of goodbyes began. You see had I not made the decision to separate myself from him...I would have missed all of this. Saying goodbye to him lead me to choose those who loved me without stipulations. To choose to surround myself with family and friends that didn't abandon me. Saying goodbye to him, lead me to meeting my husband. Our goodbye was a gift he gave me that I will forever be grateful for. It became the gift that kept on giving when his soul left us just a year after I moved.
When I got the news about Dad, we had literally just returned from CO. We visited to share the news of our brand new marriage (a few days before at the justice of the peace, yes we eloped...for many reasons, which is not the point here wink emoticon) with his family...and to celebrate the life of my FIL who had passed away a year before. We had just completed our second move, this time we had landed in Boston. My Uncle called and asked if I was sitting down. I was and truly had no idea what he was about to tell me. I thought maybe they were having a baby...but no. Your Dad is gone. 4 words. I had planned and prepped for this conversation so many times. Not one of those thoughts helped at all. Want to know the first thought I had?? My uncle answered it before I could even ask. No, he didn't suffer. My second thought? Was it related to drugs or alcohol...I am sharing this fact because grace is my best friend. I struggled so much as a child of addiction. My thought made perfect sense, but it felt so bad. So hurtful. But before I asked that...my Uncle assured me it wasn't as he laid out the details. No one is perfect. I am allowed to be human and rest assured my very next thought was repeating he didn't suffer. He is no longer suffering. It was like a weight was lifted. I felt immediate relief that he was finally at peace and literally walking around in heaven. My 3rd thought...how am I going to tell my brother and sister? They already knew. Thank God. Then the intense grief came shortly after. I began to cry and I don't think I stopped for a month. I booked a flight immediately and went to say my final goodbye.
For what now seems like a fleeting moment...I had the thought that I wasn't allowed to grieve. Why? because I hadn't talked to him in years. In fact a short few months before, he had called me. I didn't answer because I didn't know what to say...so when I got my wits about me, I did call him back but got his VM and didn't leave a message. I brushed it off and went about my business. Guilt. It's real and raw. I replay that moment over in my mind still to this day. What's done is done, but if you can learn from me...answer the phone. I promise you won't regret it. What changed my mind about allowing myself to grieve? Dad did. You see although we hadn't spoken in years, he followed me. He kept up with all the moves I had made and was still so very proud of me. I didn't know this until the moment I'm about to explain...but that's how he worked. As we went through his few assets...my Uncle found a Boston Red Sox jersey. And let me tell you my Dad wasn't a baseball fan. I lost it, full on ugly cry when he handed it to me. It reminded me that I was and will always be his daughter. And that I absolutely had every right to grieve. As unconventional as our relationship was, it was ours. And telling our story sets our love in stone. It looked messy and chaotic from the outside (because it was) but it was still love. Dad reminded me that you don't ever give up on loving someone. You may separate but love wins. All the love he'd ever had for me...was represented in a Red Sox jersey. Go figure.
So we said goodbye, with Soulshine playing as the soundtrack of his life. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I find peace in knowing the next time I see him...we will never have to say goodbye again. And...that he isn't suffering anymore. He suffered for over 50 years. It was time for him to go rest easy on the mountain. His three kids were on the front row. Together. We held hands and that moment united us again as siblings...family that always sticks together. We are left to live his legacy...to show that there is redemption. That He creates beauty from ashes. And I had the honor of fulfilling my Dad's wishes by laying him to rest with his Mom. His ashes are leading to redemption.
To those of you who knew him...and loved him in the times I wasn't present, I cherish you. I always loved him. Love him. But the gap you filled saved my life. Forever grateful.
To anyone who is suffering the loss of a parent way to soon (or at all)...it's a club my husband nor I ever wish on anyone. It's unfair that we can't all live forever, but know that we feel your pain. We see you. We are you. You are never alone in your grief, that never goes away. We know your heart and we are always cheering you on. I am no longer addicted to goodbyes, I long for hellos.
Continue to follow our journey...Dad still teaches me all kinds of things...many that are helping me change the world around me. He's now my guardian angel and I talk to him more than I ever did before. We are finally at peace.
Love you more...