October 5th

I remember the day vividly. Of course I do.

Over time, its events have transpired into a movie in my mind, playing on a continuous reel that occasionally makes its way to the forefront. In it, I am watching myself as though I wasn’t a part of it, as though it wasn’t me living those moments.

I see myself as I get the news, as I cry, as I process.

I remember all the details; even the blurry ones.

So on the morning of October 5th this year, I was transported back to that day ten years prior, the day my Dad passed away.

There was my mind made movie, playing all morning as I recalled those things that I already know so well; the events of the day that changed everything.

This October 5th, I woke up in sobs and let the tears stain my pillow as the toddler slept peacefully beside me.

The anniversary of this loss is hard every year, but ten years seems so significant. Ten years. A decade. A milestone.

I miss him everyday. I grieve all of the momentous things he has missed in my life. College graduation. My wedding. Meeting my son.

But there is so much I have missed seeing of him. The way he would have loved seeing the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. The way he would have loved the historical election where Obama became President. All of the Christmas presents I missed getting to see him open and Father’s Days we never got to celebrate. Getting to see him be a granddad.

He is forever a part of me. I see it every time I look in the mirror as his eyes stare back at me. I hear him every time the Beatles song “Imagine” is played, even all of the bad cover bands. I feel him every time I say my son’s full name, because we gave our son my Dad’s name, Richard, as a middle name. I smile every time I pass a chess set, or watch my son play soccer, or stare into my son’s eyes, because, luckily, he has those same big eyes, too.

Yes, I remember that day. But I remember so much more of him as my father and I missed so much more of him in these ten years since he has been gone.

So on October 5th, rather than transporting myself back to that day, I let my mind movie play and I let my tears fall. Then I got my little boy dressed and we had a play date at the Botanical Gardens, surrounding ourselves with butterflies and flowers.

And then I think my family gave each other the greatest gift; we gave each other a weekend of each other.

Leaving the husband and toddler at home, my mom, sister, brother and I went away for a weekend to Charlottesville, VA. We immersed ourselves in laughter and conversation, scenery and adventure, and no shortage of extravagant food.

Nothing will change the significance of the loss, the way his presence is missed daily, the way my heart grieves eternally for the man that I was lucky enough to have as my father.

But this year, on this tenth year of the day we lost my father, we celebrated my Dad with love and laughter, just the four of us.

I know for certain that there were still five of us there.

“Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

Spending time with my family, remembering and celebrating my Dad who helped create it.

My Dad

Heavy Grey

Clouds coated the sky in a blanket of grey, clinging to the sky and soaking into my bones.

The heaviness of the earth mirrored the heaviness of my heart, as my footsteps interrupted the calm of the puddles decorating the pavement.

I even mirrored my mood, ever so subconsciously, in an outfit of blue jeans, a gray and white striped shirt, and gray cardigan.

It’s almost here, isn’t it? This day that creeps up slowly and then presents itself quickly as it makes it presence known; this day that changed so much.

October 5th will be the tenth anniversary of the day my Dad passed away. It will mark ten years since I have seen his face, heard his voice, or felt his hug.

I don’t exactly dread the day, but I do feel it’s presence and it’s significance. It is a day that changed everything, a day that forces me to remember, but the moments that I miss my Dad are much more frequent and emotional. October 5th is not a cursed day for me like September 1st. October 5th was awful ten years ago, but the day itself has not been repeatedly bad, just saddening.

People say time heals all wounds, but I don’t think you ever heal from the loss of a parent. I think the intensity of the pain becomes much less, and time may distance you from the event, but never from the emptiness.

The best description was explained to me by my grief counselor who I saw for a few months after my Dad passed. He said losing someone is like throwing a rock into a calm lake. At first, the ripples are large and big and interrupt the calm of the surface. Eventually, the ripples calm, and if you watch long enough, you will see the silent stillness of the water once again. But the rock will always remain, sitting there, just beneath the surface, changing the foundation of the lake.

And so it is when you experience a loss. Time will take away the ripples. Time will distance you from the event. But time can not change the way it changed you, the way you miss them, the way you wish they were still here every second of every day.

This was my day of heavy grey  Of anticipation of a ten year anniversary. A day where the world gave me the gift of gray to mirror my thoughts. For it is only by my walking through the fog that I can once again return to the sunshine.

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose them all at once; you lose them in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and their scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in the closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of them that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that they are gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” 
― John IrvingA Prayer for Owen Meany

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I graduated high school.

Ten years since I donned a slinky black dress under a red graduation robe. Ten years since I paraded down a football field in a cap and gown to achieve the milestone that is high school graduation.

I was excited and terrified. I was not ready to leave the comforts of a life I had always known but had grown uncomfortable there. I was ready to spread my wings but was too scared to jump out of the nest.

The world was too big for me to navigate but the town where I grew up had grown too small.

It’s been ten years since I was the girl with so much potential and so many dreams.

It’s been ten years since I was sure about who I was.

My 18-year-old self was smart, pretty, and talented. (And tiny. I only weighed 100 pounds when I graduated high school.) This girl was going to go to Broadway. With an all-A GPA after a course load of honors and AP classes, a music scholarship and a two page long list of various honors and accomplishments under her belt, this girl was going to be somebody. This girl was going to be the perfect mom to four children. She would always look pretty and have a clean house. Beside small teenage dramas, this girl’s childhood had been pretty idealistic and she expected nothing less as she leapt out into the world.

A lot happens in ten years.

This woman may still be smart, but no one really recognizes that now. This woman may still be pretty, but not in the head turning way she was at 18. The weight she’s gained over the past ten years and the way having a baby changed her body will never allow her reflection to be the same in the mirror.

This woman stopped trying to pursue her singing talent after life starting throwing her curve balls that she couldn’t get away from. This woman never went to Broadway. This woman experienced the loss of her father and depression. This woman excelled in college but became a teacher instead of a performer. This woman became a mother through a very difficult pregnancy and delivery, and struggled through another bout of foggy depression. This woman sometimes flounders just to hold it all together with one baby, and the thought of having another one terrifies her. This woman’s dreams of being extraordinary washed away over the past decade and this woman struggles with the fact that despite all of her potential of ten years ago, she really grew up to be quite ordinary.

The ten year highschool reunion will be held in August. I had a wonderful high school experience, but as I reflect on these past ten years, I can not convince myself to go. So much has changed since then. As I look back into my highschool past I realize how much of who I was is not who I am. Sometimes I grieve that. I am reluctant to go to the reunion because I feel that somehow I have failed; failed at becoming who I could have been.

In October, it will also be ten years since my dad died. Ten years in which my world shifted and my experiences grew and my understanding of life changed, because my life irreparably changed. I never figured out how to build a sand castle when part of my foundation washed away with the waves.

I once read a quote that said, “When something tragic happens in your youth, you tend to feel that age for the rest of your life.”  I have often felt this way. I feel like I spent the past decade kind of lost. I have made grown up decisions without feeling grown up. Time and life have moved forward without my permission and sometimes I feel like I am digging my feet in the sand and resisting with all my might, but no matter how hard I try, I am pulled into the future anyway.

I will turn 29 this fall and officially be in the last year of my twenties. And I’m oh so glad. I’m so ready not to be in this lost place anymore. I am so ready not to feel like I am still 18 holding on to dreams that will never come true. I am so ready not to spend the next ten years of my life in a blanket of fog, stuck in the middle of who I was and who I am. I am so ready to embrace myself as a woman.

Sometimes I miss the 18-year-old girl. Almost all of the time, I miss her dreams of grandeur. But as much as I may want to,  I will never be that girl again. I think it’s time to let her go. I think it’s time to stop holding on to her standards of beauty and dreams and perfection. I will never be a size zero again, or be famous, or look at the world through the innocence tinted glasses I wore at 18.

If you google my full maiden name, you get a lot of links. She was important. But she’s not here anymore.

If you google my name now, you will not find me. I am lost among laundry and dishes and toddler tantrums. I am buried under bouts of depression. As it turns out, I never turned into anything special.

It took me 18 years to become the person that had so much going for her before. It will take time to create myself again.

It’s not too late to start, is it?