Missing My Dad
By hollynielsen on November 14, 2011
Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of losing my dad suddenly to a heart attack. I’m dreading going through the day, and yet somehow relieved and more than a little amazed that life does really go on – somehow we’ve all managed to live an entire year of our lives – our annual trips to Yosemite, Lake Siskiyou, the beach house in Aptos, and a year’s worth of birthdays – without him.
A year ago, I didn’t think we could ever again enjoy these places that he loved so much without him. But as a family we managed, even if we were just going through the motions (fake it ‘til you make it) – all of us feeling his presence and thinking about him at each of these family gatherings. And of course knowing exactly how disappointed Dad would be if we stopped taking our annual family vacations to his favorite places just because he wasn’t with us anymore. That thought kept me going more than once when I didn’t think I could do it. Dad and Yosemite and Dad and the beach house are forever linked in my heart – I can’t think of one without thinking of the other.
He was a part of my entire life except for the last year, and I miss his steady, calm and rational presence every single day.
We were at my twin nieces’ 11th birthday party last weekend, and my sister made three cakes for some reason. She asked who would take leftover cake home, and I laughed to myself, thinking of my dad’s utter chocoholism, and started to blurt out, “Dad will take the chocolate one!”, then clamped my mouth shut to make sure the words didn’t leak out. I didn’t trust myself to say anything – my family would have appreciated the thought – but I thought I’d burst into tears right then and there.
It’s taken me a year to even begin to think of writing about my dad – my therapist suggested it a month or so after his death. I think it was too fresh and raw to sift through a lifetime of memories when even thinking about him when I was driving could make me burst into tears. My dad was such a good and honorable man who loved his wife and family so dearly that it’s hard to even describe what a positive and steady influence he’s been in my life, my siblings’ lives, and his grandchildren’s lives. He always had time to answer a question, impart a little of his vast knowledge, but he never gave advice without it first being requested.
As a teenager who wanted it now, now, now, I found his thoughtful, rational engineer brain too slow for my speed. As an adult, with a relationship that was father/daughter plus friend, I loved that he took his time to think about the possibilities, then sift through them one by one to come up with the most likely/best answer, before he’d give his opinion. And I called him about it all – cars, appliances, computers, water heater, air conditioner, garage door springs, grass, dogs, how do I determine a percentage gain, you name it. (Okay, well not cooking. Cooking was not one of his strengths, lol. Barbequing yes.)
I’m finding that a year later, it’s still hard to see my way clear of missing him so dreadfully that I can’t quite verbalize how much he meant to me. But the fact that I’ve been able to write this blog post tells me that I’m at least a baby step further along the grieving process and hopefully starting to heal from the huge hole losing him left in my heart. Friends tell me that the pain never goes away -- you never stop missing the person who is gone -- but that eventually it becomes a pain you can live with. And that I guess is as good of a goal to work toward as any.
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