I still have a ways to go


Warning--this is a long and emotionally draining post, so if you aren't feeling up for it, please don't read it.

So lately, I've been really proud of myself with how well I've been handling all the stress of the last year. I can do it all! Look at me go! Everyone always says there is no timeline for healing, but whenever I have a rough day, I feel pretty frustrated and annoyed with myself. But this weekend, I had a reality check come up and slap me in the face.

Once you have to take care of a sick person, the last thing you want to watch is a medical TV drama. I can't handle them. Fuzzy has been watching the entire series of House, and usually watches them while on the train or when I am asleep or not at home. Sometimes, if he is watching them when I am around, I'll glance over here and there to see what is going on. He was watching an episode yesterday while we were sorting (him comic books, me shredding junk mail that needed shredding) and I wasn't really listening. But then, out of nowhere, I hear the phrase "This will be your last Christmas with your daughter."

Instantly, I lost it. I got up, went to bed, and stayed there sobbing for a really long time. And I wasn't able to recover. It seems like such a cliche--oh, someone is dying, let's take the family out to the hallway and try to tell them in the nicest possible way. I know it isn't easy for the doctors--what a shitty job to have to do. But I, sadly, have lived the reality, and been told the news. I was called out into the hallway with my mother and told about my father--and I quote to the best of my memory--"He'll make it to Thanksgiving, maybe to the end of the year, but enjoy these holidays, cause they will be his last."

"Enjoy these holidays, cause they will be his last."

Pardon my language, but Fuck. That night I drank almost a fifth of scotch out of the bottle by myself.

This year, I am remembering every single day of where we were last year. But this one sentence from a TV show made everything crash around me even harder. I remember Dad being in the hospital for pneumonia, I remember going down the Erik, Sara and Faelyn, and sobbing on the car ride to the airport, because I knew things were changing. I remember flying down on Nov 12th, the Monday after DSTW closed in Arlington Heights, and not coming back till the end of December. I remember taking Dad to the physical therapist when we thought he had a pinched nerve, and I remember taking him to the emergency room the next day, where we found out it was a tumor. I remember getting the news from the doctor. I remember how much pain my dad was in. I remember having to call my brother and trying to convince him that the phone call I was making and he was receiving was in fact the phone call we'd been dreading and avoiding for the last several years. I remember pleading with my brother to come home as soon as he could so we could have a holiday together. I remember Dad forgetting that he had received a prognosis of only a couple of weeks and being surprised when we mentioned it again to him. I remember our last Thanksgiving as a full family. I remember how happy Dad was that so many people came by to see him. I remember him saying that it was the best Thanksgiving he had had in years. I remember waking Dad up every few minutes so I could feed him a drink of Ensure so he could keep up his strength. I remember when Dad was able to stand up by himself almost miraculously, and I remember the last time he ever stood up. I remember Dad passing away just a week and a half after Thanksgiving. I remember these things so hard it's as if they were currently happening.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have developed a daily anxiety--no matter what I am doing, I get a heavy pain in my chest and my breathing becomes irregular. I was trying to come up with different reasons this is happening, but I know that it is just because my body and mind is scared of the weeks to come. I don't know how to deal with it. Therapy, yes, and writing about it help, but not solve it.

I am very blessed. I have an amazing and wonderful loving husband who holds me when I cry and makes me laugh when I need it. He always listens and never judges. I cannot imagine how it is for my dear sweet mama who is going through this same daily memory as I, only without her beloved husband. I feel such guilt for this, and I feel so hopeless that I cannot help her.

Lately, I have been describing myself as "unapologetic about who I am". I am who I am and I am, I love who I am, and I'm doing the best I can. The one thing I would apologize for, however, is bailing on plans or not seeing friends or not showing up to parties or shows. Now I know that I am still actively grieving and healing, and therefore, it's important to listen to myself and when I can and can't be social. So for that, I will stop apologizing for those things as well. Everyone will just have to deal with it.

I don't know how I am going to get through these holidays. I don't want to do it. I am scared. I wish I could just mush myself into Fuzzy and hide until January. I honestly wouldn't mind.

Fuzzy says that the holidays will always be different, but they will eventually get better. I sure hope so. Until then, I will celebrate the fact that I am a living, feeling human being by grieving my father's loss all over again.


I wish I had some magic words to contribute here.

Instead, I'll just say this:


My heart is aching right now. I have no words to help you and that frustrates me. Please know I think of your dad's passing often and the power of family and love that surrounded him that day and it seriously touches me on a daily basis. I'm always here for you and will never be offended if you go into hiding! I'll be waiting at your door with garlic cheese grits when you're ready to come out. I love you so much!

Hey lady, I'm sorry you had to go through that. It was so good seeing you on Sunday. I just want to give you a big hug. I don't know how this fits in but, House isn't even that good of a show. Put in some Firefly if you're going to mindlessly consume television. okay you know I'm trying to be funny. take care. KO

Dear Erica,

Fuzzy's right... the holiday's are going to be different for you now. But eventually (and maybe soon), different may mean better.

That is what you have to hold on to. Change is hard for all of us; Lord knows I've been going through enough myself. And we fight change as hard as we can. But interestingly enough, the word "apocalypse" doesn't mean the end of everything; it means, literally, "a lifting of the veil." A vision of how things can and may be.

So hold on tight to Fuzzy and your family and your friends; let them guide you to what comes next. But don't dread it, don't fear it. This may help you let go of the pain and anxiety you feel right now.

Remember, "This, too, shall pass."

your friend,

You are so honest. I love it. It helps us out here, just so you know.

And my goodness, so much built up around this time of your life, the day, the time, will never be as bad as it was. This year will be better than last (although still so hard) and next year will be better than this. And somewhere down the line, there will be actual joy.

You are lovely.