Life

Hi friends,

There have been so many nights that I have laid in bed and drafted blog posts in my head. Then daylight comes and another day slips away without so much as a note from me. I won’t bore you with excuses about how busy I am because we are all busy. I will say that I pay annually to maintain this blog because I truly enjoy writing, so why don’t I just write already? I think I need to start sharing my real life instead of always spending hours constructing the perfect post. Don’t worry, I will still share fun decorating ideas and recipes as those things are so much a part of who I am and what I love BUT I will also share some of my day to day musings and life happenings. I also plan to incorporate more organizing ideas and inspiration into my posts. My brother tells me that I have a knack for this organizing thing and that should share my talents. Highest compliment ever ūüôā

I am a bit of a sharer. A talker. A listener. I know not everyone in my circle is as expressive as me and I am always treading the line of being careful of not sharing my business at the consideration of others but sometimes I feel like that means that I am holding back on sharing me. Each of our stories and opinions are as individual as we are.

This particular post is about as personal as I can get. On June 3rd, my dad passed away. There is a whole book that can be written on the history with my dad. There were some rough years but the before and after those years¬†are forever engrained in my head and heart. I remember a man that would do my hair and make me oatmeal before school. I remember a man who fought super hard for custody of his 4 children. He fought against my mother who suffers from mental illness and a very messed up system. He fought for us and lost when he was the obvious safe parent. I didn’t realize until going through his personal belongings that he fought even after we were all grown. That divorce followed him for twenty years. My mom caused a lot of stress in his life but he didn’t hold it against her. He pitched in money to send her Christmas presents. She never knew. As a mom and a wife, I have a very different perspective and appreciation for him. How he fought for us. He was ornery but loving. He was sarcastic and witty. He was extremely generous. He was Grandpa to my boys and my nephews. We lived close to him so he had been a constant in my boys lives. He taught my oldest how to fish. He taught us all the love of food {although my butt and thighs say I could love food a little less. Ha ha}. Every occasion involved eating. Dad loved to treat us to meals out. He always wanted to give me money for holiday meal shopping. He brought way too many pies to Thanksgiving. He always had cash in his wallet to give to his grandsons, sometimes it was a dollar, sometimes it was $20. He called to check in often. He was the one I looked forward to telling about our adventures. He was my oldest son’s ‘person’. The one he felt the most comfortable being his true self with. He was my husband’s friend. He was my dad. He had cancer.

My dad had cancer. Fuck cancer. I don’t have enough explicates to express my anger towards this heinous disease that steals the lives of so many. He turned 67 the week before he died. He spent his last birthday in the hospital hopped up on pain meds. He spent his past few months as someone who he was not. He had prostate cancer several years ago followed by surgery to remove his prostate. Then he has a small stroke. Then he has a quadruple bypass. Then he has a foot infection cause by diabetes that left him less mobile then he would have liked for the last two years. Two years ago we found out through elevated PSA levels that the prostate cancer had gone to his bones. He tried every medication to no avail. Each one started to work and his numbers went down and then they would start to climb again. His foot would begin to heal and then it would become infected again. He was limited in what he could do. It was a vicious cycle. He was in the hospital for various infections a lot. His eating habits were bad which in turn caused him to gain weight. At Christmas the signs that things were changing had begun but they became even more apparent earlier this year. He stopped driving. My dad was the guy that would jump in the car and just take off. Each of his kids has a little of that in them. We are explorers. He stopped leaving¬†the house for things other then doctors appointments. We couldn’t even get him to come to dinner at our house and we live 4 miles away. He would’t even let us drive him here and then back home. He started to need more assistance. On Easter, he cut his ankle. I spent a few hours in the ER with him. He had lost weight. I knew this wasn’t good and I tried to just be strong and supportive. My dad didn’t do well with emotions and I am incredibly emotional. I cry at everything. It’s pretty much a running joke at my house. “Is mom crying yet?” Happy, sad, mad – I cry.

On May 4th I went to an oncology appointment with him. My aunt, our family friend and his nurse, and I were there. The oncologist explained that we had exhausted all options. We were looking at 6 months. I sat in the corner, unable to look at my dad and just cried. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had to let my siblings know how the appointment went. We are big on sending each other group texts to keep each other in the know. I didnt know how to send that text. He¬†had just come out of a week long hospital¬†stay for elevated potassium levels. The week of his birthday he went in for a bladder infection. It turned into a lot more. He came home that Sunday, May 31st. He was done fighting. He told us it was over. He knew he¬†wasn’t going to get¬†better and as his best friend said, “If he didn’t have bad luck, he didn’t have any luck at all.” Sadly that was true. he was tired of fighting. I can’t say that I blamed him. He spent a couple of days at home surrounded by his loved ones. By Wednesday, we were all at his bedside. All four of his kids, our significant others, a¬†couple of his¬†grandsons and his sister. We talked to him. We made bad jokes {because dad taught us sarcasm and bad jokes}. We held his hands. We told him we loved him. We told him that it was OK to go. Our last words with him were that morning and then he didn’t talk again. He went peacefully surrounded by those that he loved. Being there in the moment that someone leaves the world is an incredible honor. It was also incredibly hard. When babies enter the world, you are eagerly awaiting their first cry. That signifies that they took their first breath. We cheer when this happens. ¬†It means that they are alive! When someone is dying, we wait for them to take their last breath. ¬†It’s crazy how our arrival and departure into this world are so completely emotional in very different ways.

The last few months were stressful. It was full of what ifs and tears. I didn’t know how to care for my dad and my own family and myself. I felt stressed about what I should and shouldn’t do. What I could and couldn’t do. Thankfully we had an angel of a caregiver step in and take the reigns. This helped us just be able to visit him. I started grieving the moment I heard the 6 month diagnosis. I didn’t know how to be normal. I cried every time I was with my dad. So I avoided any real conversations with him. When he started to talk about giving away his belongings, I had to step away with a giant lump in my throat. I didn’t want every conversation¬†to be emotional. I cried. A lot. I cried at the grocery store when I bumped into a friend. I cried in my car. I cried in bed. I cried. A lot. I didn’t want to be sad. I wanted to enjoy the time with him. The Monday before he passed, I quickly rattled off why I was so grateful for him and how much I loved him. I was glad to have that moment even though it will never be enough. I was trying to say what I had to say in¬†that moment because I knew I probably wouldn’t have another chance. I was right.

I am grateful that he didn’t suffer anymore then he already had. ¬†I am also incredibly sad that I didn’t have more time with him. I am sad that I can’t call him and tell him about our trips this summer. That my boys can’t tell him how they both caught fish. I am sad that my boys feel his absence. I am sad that my boys can’t have sleepovers at Grandpa’s. ¬†I am sad that he won’t be here as I navigate the teen years with my boys. I know I could have used his guidance. I am sad that his diabetes essentially went away and his foot healed when he lost weight from cancer. I am sad that it was too late. I am sad that he didn’t get to take my son on one final fishing trip. I am sad that he won’t see my little sister get married in November. I am sad that his future grandchildren won’t get to meet him. I am grateful that he knows that his kids are in relationships with good people. People who loved him like a dad. I am grateful for the time that we did have with him.

I recently posted a quote about grief on Instagram. Instagram is often my outlet for expressing how I am feeling. A stranger commented that she had lost her dad and that she felt like she had multiple personalities as she was grieving. I totally get that. I am happy and fine one minute and the next, I am crying and sitting in a puddle of grief. Grief is a hard thing. It brings you to a low place. ¬†Then you rebound and are living life and feeling happy. I know grief changes shapes. I know I will be OK. I know my family will be OK but we are in all feeling and dealing in our own way. I have had two friends lose their lives¬†in the last 4 months. Heart attacks at the age of 51 and 43. Heart attacks that left widows and young children fatherless. 2015 has been rough on my own heart. It’s also made me wildy aware of how precious life is. How we need to take care of ourselves. How we need to love hard. How we need to take deep breaths and let go of the petty things. How we need to take care of our own physical and emotional well being. I am a work in progress but I am highly aware of how lucky I am. I am grateful every.single.day. Grateful for the people who fill my life. At almost 41, I am not old. I am also not young. I am in the middle. I see how quickly life passes us by. Grab every moment. Savor every memory. ¬†I will ride this wave of emotions for a long time. Many of us have already felt this loss. Losing a parent is a really weird thing. It’s like losing a part of yourself.

This year, I will serve too many pies at Thanksgiving, it’s what dad would have done. I will love hard. I will allow my dad’s memory to be a constant in our family. I will honor all conversations and stories that can be shared about his life and who he was. I will wipe the tears and embrace the emotions.

To my friends who see my ramblings on social media, I am OK. I like to share my feelings because it is who I am. Sharing makes me feel a little lighter, even if the content is sometimes heavy. I have sad moments but I am allowing myself to feel them. I am also living my life and feeling lots of happy moments and creating happy memories as well. I am incredibly grateful for the people that lift me up and support me. I feel loved beyond words.

In my opinion, the best way to support someone who is grieving is by just being there. Let them express how they are feeling. Give a hug or a listening ear. Nothing that you can say will change how they grieve.¬†We grieve because we love. It’s a process. There isn’s a solution.

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Big hugs to all of you. Make a happy memory today and be grateful.

Comments

  1. Marian Green says:

    Hi sweetie…. I am so incredibly proud to know you, a woman with deep feelings. I just read your message and want to tell you that you have a real knack for words and expressing how you feel straight from the heart. (I’m still wiping tears from my eyes as I write this.) Having lost both of my parents before the age of 35, two sisters, my brother, my husband and a number of dear friends, I can honestly tell you that the journey of grief is not an easy one. It changes each of us in many ways. It makes us question who we are as well as what life is really all about. I’ve done so much soul searching over the years and I still don’t have any solid answers. At least none that make any sense. I too HATE cancer with a passion.

    I always knew that your father loved you with all of his heart, he loved being a father and took so much pride in providing for you and your siblings. I remember him coming home from the store (your mother didn’t drive while there were together) with several bags of groceries. He would sit them on the counter and slowly take various items out and put them away with a big smile on his face. I always admired him and the wonderful man he was. I’m not going to go into the “life is not fair” speech, but dealing with a wife who was mentally ill was a monumental task for him. When I see pictures on FB of you, Carly, Michael and Holly all grown up and leading such wonderful and “normal” lives, it makes my heart happy. I’m tell you this Gabby because it’s true. I knew you when you were first born and I wish we lived closer so we could talk more. If you ever want to have a visit on the phone, feel free to give me a call. (530) 913-3490. You will always mean the world to me. You are a strong woman and your father will always be there watching over you and feeling proud. Take care of yourself…. I love you~ Marian

    • I am a little late in reading these updates but wow. I am so glad that we reconnected many years ago. I am happy that you are a piece of my past and present and that you hold so many stories of moments past. I am sorry that you have had that amount of loss. Wow. I hope we can sit down soon for an in person visit ūüôā I love you!

  2. Kristin Leff says:

    Love you dear friend. Just know that while you grieve, I am grieving for you and with you. Your dad was a wonderful man. A beautiful soul. He lived a worthy life, evident by his constant love for you and your siblings–the family. Thanks for sharing. I wanted to ask you all of these things when we were together, but the kids would have been worried by the sea of tears from you, and then me. Loving you always and grateful for your joyful heart and friendship. Xoxo

    • Awe friend, I am happy to have the talk and answer questions any time. My kids are very used to me crying. Ha ha ha. I am SO glad we’ve had extended time together this summer. It did my heart good. xo

  3. Gabby, that was beautiful! As an emotional person I could relate to all the crying, happy, sad, don’t know why crying! Losing family, and friends is terrible. The hardest part for me is “that life goes on”, which it should but for some reason you just want everybody else to stop and feel your pain as well. Sounds like you are doing all the right things! ‚̧ԳŹ

    • Thank you Nancy!! I am definitely a crier. You are right — the life goes on part is hard to swallow sometimes. I am grateful of course but it’s a ride for sure. I appreciate that you took the time to read this. I know it was a long one. xo

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