For weeks I have been thinking about how to summarize this year.
Do I even want to say anything? I want it to feel real, reflect its impact on my life and yet not sound depressing even though it was filled with a lot of grief. That is the intention, you tell me if it comes across.
I started 2012 with a heavy heart, knowing what lay ahead of us. As my father slept in the hospice bed at home, I knew I would wake up alone on January 1st of 2013. The living room is where we kept his hospice bed and now it is in the living room where I sleep when I am at my mom’s house. I feel so close to him there. I actually look forward to the quiet of next Tuesday morning. A life can change so drastically in a year.
I am no longer the same person. Losing my father forever changed me. This sounds like remorse but it isn’t. It is cliché to say this but “I didn’t know how strong I was until I didn’t have a choice.” Watching somebody you love die is the hardest thing anyone can live through yet it is also the most precious moment of my life. I loved him with all my heart until the very end. I remember the exact moment when he was gone. I prayed in that instant the world would just open up and swallow me whole into the abyss.
It didn’t happen.
I was forced to live with grief I’ve never known. To function in a world that was completely different. It was like living in a thick fog. The breeze of the train entering the station would dry my tears because I could not stop them from coming. There were things I didn’t see at first. Things that bought me joy but in the end caused even more pain. Even my body betrayed me. Somehow I got better from it all. All except the grief. This cyclic friend who leaves and returns to me at unexpected times. Filled with memories that comfort me and with those that have me longing for the abyss.
Somewhere along the way I realized that I could not spend all my days grieving. It was exhausting in every way possible. I had poured my whole heart into the loss. So I entertained the idea of putting my heart into healing. I read motivational books, attended a bereavement group, listened to a lot of Tony Robbins/Oprah/Iyanla Vanzant/Joel Osteen and focused on helping my mother and sister.
It started with choosing not to cry for one day. I failed miserably and cried even harder that night. But I did it again the next day, and the next day and so on. Until I noticed I had not cried in a week. So of course I felt bad and cried some more but it was less intense and a shorter cry. I began to keep a gratitude journal, first on paper and then in an iPhone app. I forced myself to write 5 things I was grateful for every day. I did this for weeks, months and even now.
I learned to stand up for myself. To say “no” when others expected more than I was capable of handling. To take time for me. To do things that brought me joy, no matter how insignificant they may seem to others. I learned to forgive those who hurt me. I learned to let go. I learned to be a better sister. I learned to be a better daughter to a mother whose heart is broken just like mine.
I do feel stronger today. The words “Live through this and you’ll never look back” come to mind as this year comes to a close. Yesterday my sister and I were talking about how we survived this year. We are in awe that we are still standing. I told her I feel like the Wii boxing character in the video game. He’s wobbling after a tough fight but he hasn’t fallen yet. He’s bruised and battered but not down yet.
Not just yet.
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