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***I’ll warn you, this post isn’t your typical DIY or organizing post, but instead is something that weighs very heavily on my heart this time of year. Writing for me has always been a form of therapy and maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else too in the process.***
Checking my phone this morning I hit the “on this day” tab on Facebook. Often times I’ll see pictures from years past that make me smile, especially of my girls. This time of year though, I can also see the posts of when my dad started taking a turn for the worse 6 years ago. Easter was the last holiday we had with him and while many are celebrating the resurrection of Christ, I’m bracing myself for anniversary of my dad’s passing.
May 20th. Followed by his birthday May 26th.
I wouldn’t say as the years go on it gets easier, more tolerable is more like it.
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, the type of cancer he had made his death a matter of “when” and not “if”. Yes we held onto the hope of a miracle. Ironically we had already walked the path of this same cancer with my grandfather, who had passed away 20 years prior after a 9 month battle. The advances in cancer treatment 20 years later gave my dad 14 months. We had the opportunity to soak in those last few family memories and basically start the grieving process months before my dad actually passed. Every “see you later” was harder, but I was grateful for the time. When my dad passed away, my mom and I were both with him when he took his final breath. Fitting since he was there for my first, that I would be there for his last.
After the funeral was over and slowly people stopped coming around as often, that’s when the real grieving started. I’ll be perfectly honest, at that time in my life, I felt like I was drowning. I watched as everyone else’s lives returned back to “normal” and I had to jump back into the daily grind, but my life was no where near normal. My world was slowly crumbling and no matter how much I tried, I struggled to keep it all together. The girls were 5 and 3 and I had to help them grieve the loss of their Pa-Pa as well as grieve for myself. My marriage was crumbling, I couldn’t focus at work…. I needed a change and needed it fast.
When you’re that close to death it gives you a change of perspective. Your priorities shift.
Right before my dad was diagnosed, he and my mom were planning for my mom’s retirement. They had talked about buying a condo closer to where we lived so they could see the girls more. They talked about traveling and all the things they would do that would come with retirement. And in a matter of months, all those plans were thrown out the window. A few months after my dad passed away, my mom still retired. It just wasn’t the same for her.
My hubby needed to re-certify for his medical license and happened to stumble upon a job opening in Charleston, SC. We had always talked about retiring to the Carolinas, but after my dad passed, all I could think was “why not now”. Without hesitation I told him to call, only a few weeks later they hired him, and we moved 6 months after my dad passed. Sure the timing was super shitty, excuse my language, but life can be a series of unplanned projects. If there’s anything that I have learned, you just have to jump because the timing will never be perfect.
Here’s the thing, while we knew my dad’s passing was inevitable, I’ve also had people taken unexpectedly, which is even more difficult. Death just sucks, but you know what, that doesn’t mean that YOU have to stop living. We don’t know how much time we have on this earth and we should live that way. Love hard, forgive, do the things, learn something new, take the risks, be kind, help a friend, and if you know someone is going through a hard time just be there. Live the hell out of this life. It’s never too late to change your mind or change your direction.
This is also why I say all the time to focus on experiences and not things. It’s why I decided to walk away from my government job of 13 years to do something I was passionate about and that would give me more time with the kids. It’s why we chose to live in a smaller house. Why I love to help people tackle the chaos in their own lives through organizing and DIY projects. Why I try to be supportive of other people I see doing amazing things. It’s why I workout. Sure grief sneaks in and will stop me in my tracks. I embrace the suck for a minute and then kick it to the curb.
Yes, death is certain, but it doesn’t mean you have to forget to LIVE ALIVE!
Some books that helped me through my journey over the past few years: