Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Learning and Accepting

Dad has been gone a month.

So weird.  So surreal. 

I woke up today and realized I don't feel the sadness as heavily as I have the past few weeks.  I guess that means I am slowly adjusting to Dad being gone.  Mom and I are learning to talk about Dad and accept that tears will flow, but so will the laughter and smiles.  My siblings and I are learning to talk about Dad (via text messaging, naturally) with quips of what he would say in certain situations.  And, even if they don't know if they should pat my shoulder, give a hug, or give a fist pump (yes, that happened), people around us continue to love and support us.  My sweet students have been the best these past few weeks, because they just embrace the awkward and ask how I am doing and ask me questions about my dad.  They are actually quite better at dealing with me than some adults have been! 

Remember how I keep saying there is beauty in my dad's death?  The beauty lies in this sweet boys face.

He is a gentle reminder that life will go on.  He remembers and talks about his Ho-Ho Papa with laughter and smiles, which keeps me smiling as I remember, too.  Life doesn't get to just end with the death of a loved one.  Nope.  Instead, you have homework, swim lessons, birthdays, school conferences, holidays and everything else to face on a day-to-day basis.  You write an obituary.  You finish a slideshow.  You cross things off the list.

I am learning to walk through the days with memories.  Learning to accept that the giant man that was my dad will always be missing. 

I'm accepting that life will go on.

Even if it still makes me a little sad.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


This grieving thing is a fascinating process.

One day (take Friday for example) I am exhausted and paralyzed by my grief as I worked through the slideshow for Dad's memorial.  

Today, I am watching the Avenger's with Eric.  I shopped this weekend.  I cleaned my house.  I even spent Christmas with my in-laws.  And I did ok.

I survived another round of firsts. 

Working through the slideshow has been difficult, but healing at the same time.  Here's how I would describe the process.  sort through photos, cry, sort some more, cry some more, sort again, turn off the computer, and then drink a whole lot of wine.

Sounds just about right.

It has been exhausting but opened my heart to grieve.  I keep saying there is beauty in my dad's death, and I was reminded of it yet again, as I traveled back in time to see my sweet dad's face.

And remember how much he loved us.  It felt good.  It felt right.

When all is said and done, I don't know if I will have written the right obituary. 
Created the perfect slideshow.  Or said the right things in a newspaper article that honored the man who meant everything to me.  To my family.  To my mom.
As it turns out, it may not matter if I did. 

All that matters is that we remember the love that Dad felt for us and smile, even when there are tears. 

On November 3, and all the days that follow, we will do just that.

I'm learning this grieving thing comes in waves.
And that's ok.

Friday, October 19, 2012


This song came on Pandora tonight while I was sorting photos for Dad's slideshow.  
I think Dad must know I'm barely hanging on.



The broken clock is a comfort, it helps me sleep tonight
Maybe it can stop tomorrow from stealing all my time
I am here still waiting though i still have my doubts
I am damaged at best, like you've already figured out

I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain, there is healing
In your name I find meaning
So I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on
I'm barely holdin' on to you

The broken locks were a warning you got inside my head
I tried my best to be guarded, I'm an open book instead
I still see your reflection inside of my eyes
That are looking for a purpose, they're still looking for life

I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
with a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain (in the pain), is there healing
In your name (in your name) I find meaning

So I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'), I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'), I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin')
I'm barely holdin' on to you

I'm hangin' on another day
Just to see what you throw my way
And I'm hanging on to the words you say
You said that I will be OK

The broken lights on the freeway left me here alone
I may have lost my way now, haven't forgotten my way home

I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
with a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain(In the pain) there is healing
In your name I find meaning

So I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'), I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'), I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'),
I'm barely holdin' on to you

I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'), I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'), I'm holdin' on (I'm still holdin'),
I'm barely holdin' on to you

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I'm sitting here, listening to "In the Garden" by Elvis Presley.  This is the song my dad wants played at his service.  I've never heard it until tonight.  It's a good choice.

My head is spinning with all the decisions that need to be made between now and November 3.  November 3 is the date of Dad's service.  It was a pretty big deal when Kim and Mom finalized the date.  I was happy.  But so many decisions remain.

Obituary.  Turns out these suckers are expensive!  I wrote one.  It is beautiful and honors my dad.  And then I had to edit the shizz out of it so it wouldn't cost me a mortgage payment!  Thank goodness my best friend is an English major.  Thanks, Jodie.

Program.  Turns out people want to know what is going to happen at a service. At the same time Jodie is editing the obituary, I've emailed the details to our awesome cousin Karolyn, who is going to put the program together.  Thanks, Bates.

Flowers and pictures and location of a service.  It really helps when one has a sister who is an event planner.  Enough said.  Good work, Kimmie.

Slideshow.  Now this is a project I am embracing!  My wonderful family has scanned all the photos I need to have and this weekend, I'm putting it all together.  I'm really looking forward to it because looking at pictures of my dad feels good. 

And then there are the minor details of cleaning a house before family comes over to eat dinner after the graveside service, figuring out whether or not our 5 year old should attend the service (and if he doesn't, who will babysit?), asking people to bring food for the family, and helping my mom with all the paperwork regarding benefits and insurance, and the list goes on and on.  Somewhere in there, I hope to find time to sleep, continue to go to work, and maybe even hang out with my boys.


Truth is, I don't mind all the decisions.  Making decisions is pretty much what I do at work.  All the time.  I'm ok making decisions until the decisions threaten to keep me from moving forward, feeling any pain, or living life with my boys.  I haven't reached that point but I can see the potential for drowning from it all.
I can't avoid the decisions.

Kinda like I can't avoid the realization that my dad taught me how to make all these decisions without him.
I just wish I didn't have to.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


It's Homecoming week at the high school.

So, I sit here.
Sipping on a Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale. 
Tallying Royalty votes (a boy named Fred won, by the way).

Last night, I was a mess.  Crying like a fool.  Feeling weak.  I don't do weak very well, by the way.  Last night, it all kicked me in the ass.  Again.  And I was useless to anyone. 

Today, I woke up and went to work.  
 I supervised an assembly rehearsal.  I wrote a bunch of emails.  I even supervised two evening events.  Truthfully, my heart wasn't into it.  I suppose, as long as the kids don't know, it is ok that I don't care. 

When will my heart care again?
When will I stop cyring all the time? 
When will I stop having moments that I can't control, when I fall to my knees because the pain I feel when I think about my dad's death is unbearable?
When will I stop feeling weak?
Right now, I can't imagine anything but this pain. 

I suppose it has to get better.

Cause right now...it feels awful.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A blog post from a former student

As a teacher, I have encountered thousands of lives.

Every now and then, a certain student, group of students, or maybe even an entire class slips their way into my heart.  Upon graduation, I leave it up to the students to choose for themselves whether they will stay in my life or not. 

In 2006, I was blessed to teach an amazing group of students...the entire class remains my very favorite.  Six of those students wormed their way deep into my heart and have become friends.  I may use the words "former students: when I describe them to others; but in truth, they are close friends.

On Friday night, I met up with a couple of them after the dedication of the high school announcer booth to my dad.  What could have been an overly emotional night became, with their help, a night filled with laughter.  I was so lucky to be surrounded by love as everyone around me allowed me to share some of the best stories about my dad.

One of those sweet girls survived a brain tumor about six months ago.  From that experience, she started blogging.

Tonight she blogged this post.

And touched my heart in a way she will never realize. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The day my life changed forever

On Monday, October 1, 2012, my dad died.
It was a long road from his kidney transplant to today.  We thought the new kidney was the answer to a new chapter.  In a way, it was.  Just not quite the chapter any of us wanted.

There are so many emotions

I am thankful there were no words left unsaid between my dad and I.
I am thankful I had time to say goodbye and cry tears with him.
I am thankful my brother was home and there when my dad took his last breath.
I am thankful for the love I felt when there were the five of us in one room.
I am thankful I learned from my parents amazing forty-three year love affair.
I am thankful I was with my grandmother when my dad died.

I can tell you I found beauty as my dad was dying. If you were there, you saw a brave, strong man fight every moment to stay with his loved ones. You also saw that same brave, strong man accept that it was time to go home and he found peace in his passing.

That is beauty.

You saw a man who was visited by doctors, nurses, technicians, and hospital transporters because their lives were better for knowing my dad.  You saw a man loved on by family and friends who told story after story about the man who loved as big as he lived. 
You saw a man who left no words left unsaid with anyone.

There were no words left unsaid.
My dad lived life to the fullest. And he made sure that all of us knew how he felt about us when the time came to say goodbye.
And now...I stuggle to accept that my dad is gone.

I am sad I had to celebrate my birthday three days after my dad died. 
I am sad that I have to wish that my five year old remembers his Ho-Ho Papa, instead of hug him every day.
I am sad that I fight to get out of bed in the morning.
I am sad that the first person I think to call is my dad. And he won't answer the phone.
I am sad that I cry myself to sleep because I miss his voice.
I am sad I belong to the "I lost a parent" club.

Last night I realized, for the first time, my dad is not coming back.  The one person who could make me feel better when I am sad won't wrap me in his big strong arms and tell me it will be ok.  He won't greet me with that big grin and tell me "go easy, Chelle".  He won't be there to fill a room with his larger-than-life love and smile.

That realization hurts.  It hurts a lot.

The tears come when I least expect them.  Sometimes, I can tap them down.  Other times, I can't and they flow freely.  I don't know that this will ever change for me.

On October 1, my dad died.

But, for 66 years, on October 1, my dad also lived.

And he lived really, really big.

I miss you, Daddy.
So much.

Thanks for being my daddy and loving me unconditionally.