Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day, Independence Day

July 2008, Malibu

So I was gonna try and ignore Father’s Day.
It’s Father’s Day and my kids don’t have one.

I was gonna just treat it like every other Sunday only….
Well last time I tried to run from one of the “big” days,
like his anniversary death date,
like his birthday,
like random days when his loss seems to be around every corner,
I get slammed,
Emotionally beat up,
eaten and then spewed out.

It took days for me to recover.
My whole body, my mind, just like in the beginning,
unable to focus, skittish,
in a sluggish way.

So this time, instead of running from his loss,
I turn into it.

Not out of bravery.
Not out of “I’ll show it whose boss!”

I turn into it out of the idea that facing the monster diminishes its power.
I’m not afraid anymore (or well just not afraid TODAY )

Cause what I have learned on this 792 day since his death is:

the loss won’t kill me.

Its unpredictability, won’t make my heart stop.
Its depth won’t suffocate me.
Its “holy-shit-this-hurtness” won’t be with me every single moment of every single day.
I have learned that all that pain that often brings me to my knees in random places like the kitchen, outside the car and yes, once in Whole Foods,
washes over me and then goes away.
And while I don’t like it, (I will never like the feeling of being left, abandoned and vulnerability),
every time, every fucking time afterward,
a rainbow appears.
And at the end of that rainbow is the new, better me!

It was a gift to have him even if he did stink up the bathroom (Cannonization of Art)
It was a gift to loose him (Dancing)

I am standing here, not just stronger, but wiser, more open, more sensitive than I have ever been.

I am standing here alive.
And alive means feeling all of it but knowing that “all” passes. The joy all and the yucky all, it passes.

Now as for the kids, cause really, the day is more about them, than about me.

This year I watched the grief and hopelessness catch up with Langston and flip him, and for moments, pin him to the floor. I have watched him look for relief in food, in friends and in video games. I have stood beside him, nodding my head, rubbing his back, curling me 128lb frame around his 251lb one.

He is walking his own journey and it is not for me to dictate it, fix it or say “No, no don’t go that way!” because he has to find his own place of strength. I have to remind myself that it is not one I can create for him.

His blessing through this? It seems that it is dawning on him (slowly) that the outside things bring him only temporary relief. He’s learning to turn into the loss, too. (That’s more awakening most adults 3, 4 and 5 times as old as he is!)

For Pallas, I still worry. I’m not sure where she is. I watch her float around with her friends, and with me seemingly content. I worry but as the saying goes, “Worry is putting a negative spin on the future.

For Ezra, I watch him fear the fear of his loss, hold it in till he turns blue with it and then let it out because he doesn’t have the strength (who does?) to keep it all pent up! And then worry what we will think him less than when it comes tumbling out. I am waiting for him to discover, like his brother, to run from it, gives it more power.

They lost a father, a man that cannot be replaced. I lost a husband who frankly, can be replaced. (I don’t believe there’s only one soul mate per lifetime.)

And the journeys my kids travel are their journeys. Not mine, I have to be careful not to confuse the two.

No doubt Father’s Day will mean different things to them as they grow up, as they discover and acknowledge their own courage and growth as it spills out of them in this life.

This year (cause next year may find me in completely different place!) Father’s Day is a day to give thanks to Art for being a decent dad and for mourning the kind of father he “could have been.” It’s also day for me to marvel at my children as they make their way in the world without a dad, something I didn’t have to do.

The one thing I hope for them for forever is that Father’s Day doesn’t scare them, doesn’t become a day to avoid.

I hope that Father’s Day becomes their independence day.


  1. Absolutely wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing. I've learned that embracing those days have actually made them easier...but they are still difficult

  2. This was neither inspiring or funny, if it was meant to be. He can be replaced???? You have no idea how a lot of us feel if you can write that. It took you days to recover? Years, baby, years....I still hurt. God, how glib you sound about it all. I know I am flawed, I wallow in it as some people might say..won't let it go. I know everyone grieves differently, it just seems this struck a "bad chord" with me and for some strange reason felt compelled to tell you that.

  3. Dear Anonymous,
    Maybe replaced is the incorrect word.The word itself through the posting out of context. No one is replaced, but we can know and feel love again from someone different should we choose to allow that. Our children cannot have a different parent. We only get one of each, for better or worse, to love. When I read this I took away from it the feeling that Kim is trying to say that she is proud of her children and noticing how differently they grieve their father. I understood her to say she tired to ignore this day because of its difficulty, but no matter it still comes and has realized she must acknowledge it in order to continue her coping with her loss of a husband. When she did try to get by without honoring the anniversary of something, the emotions got to her anyway, and even worse. Lastly, I understood Kim to say she is trying to teach her children how strong they are in light of their father's death and not to fear the special days he should be there. I understand anonymous too as sometimes others positive and strong outlook feels exhausting to us when we feel we cannot find that kind of energy. Grief is a delicate emotion because it evokes many feelings at the same time. I also know these feelings as my children and I approach the end of year two since we lost the most incredible love a family could cherish! Today seemed impossible, but we made it through.

    Take care,
    Anonymous #2, Louisville ky

  4. I'll admit that I stopped and reread this a few times, "They lost a father, a man that cannot be replaced. I lost a husband who frankly, can be replaced. (I don’t believe there’s only one soul mate per lifetime."
    Initially I though - "Wow, does she really feel that way?" And then I started thinking and realized, it's true. Our spouses can never be replaced for who they were, but widows do remarry and their spouses are technically 'replaced'. (I have no idea what that looks like or feels like, but I assume that the gaping hole in our hearts is somewhat bandaided over.)

    My son is already in his twenties and is still not handling his dad's death well (and refuses to go for counseling). His father can't ever be replaced. We tend to think, and are told by our counselors, that the loss of a spouse is the hardest of all, but it's important to recognize that to many, the loss of a parent is just as painful or possibly worse. And I can only imagine that the loss of a young child is just as bad. (If a loss is brutally painful, who's to say which is worse. It doesn't matter. It's just important to recognize that we're each in pain and grieving.)

    On another note... Father's Day. I don't think I ran from it, but I did treat it pretty much like every other Sunday. How do you celebrate it when he's not here? Last year Dave died 6 days before Father's day. Father's Day will forever suck for my son - and me. Not sure if there's a proper way to handle it.

  5. Mrs. C - foreverJune 19, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    The thing that hit me the most from Kim's note today was the pain. Why won't the pain go away. Why can't I see a tomorrow without my husband. Why am I so profoundly sad down to my inner core.

    27 months & it is not better. I feel so alone & no one understands. Why can't I stop crying.

    I am mad that his daughter had the balls to post "I miss my daddy soooo much"....where the hell was she while I was caring for him for 14 months 24/7. A bad day to say the least. The worse part - tomorrow doesn't look any brighter...

  6. Mrs C....I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes reading someone else feels the same way I do comforts me, not that you hurt, too....but I am 26 months and most everyone I know thinks I should be over it. So I try to act like I am better. And when I let my guard down, to an "ex-friend" who came to visit a couple weeks ago...I get this email from her. Now, let me preface by saying she is not a close friend, big and mouthy, 47 yrs old never been married lives with her mother. I used to like her when we worked together, however, that was 15 yrs ago and we had common "hates' from she comes up, 2nd time since my husband died. I don't cry, take her for lunch, come home, take a nap, talk, watch TV, and all in all I thought it went ok. I did tell her I felt like I was just existing, not really living, that I am still so sad but have accepted that is probably just how it is going to be....she writes me an email "for my own good" in part:

    I recognize the grief, stress and loneliness of losing a loved one. Certainly people grieve differently and I am glad you are seeking help. However, your grief and issues are compounded by your lack of motivation to seek out others, volunteer or go back to work. You wallow in self pity and negative feelings constantly. Your behavior and me, me, me attitude makes people less likely to want to be with you. You don't accomodate anyone else but yourself.

    The bottom line is Mike is gone. Sad as that may be, you need to pick yourself up and suck up that terrible loss. Find the strength to carry on, just like everyone else. People do care about you including me. It's time to force yourself to pull yourself together. Otherwise, you will continue to spiral down and you will do it alone. I am sorry to have to say this but it's for your benefit. I hope that you will show improvement and find some peace."

    Now again, I see her maybe once a year. Considering how far I think I have come....this is what she sends me. Yeah, probably consistent with how others feel. She has never lost anyone close to her...she doesn't know grief. She is "always right" so that may explain why she has never been married, and not for lack of trying. This makes me feel like throwing my hands up, like, what more can I do? Yeah, I hate this life.

  7. To Anonymous on 6/20/11 - You are NOT the only one who has had someone give you the "for your own good" lecture. I have gone out of my way in my 3+ yrs to create an image that conveys I have adjusted or completed the grief journey when in fact it is a total facade. I have always been slow to make friends. It is just part of my personality to get to know people before I open up to them. Unfortunately, at my lowest point in life, when I needed a friend the most as I struggled to hang on after losing my 38 yr old husband suddenly and unexpectedly to a fatal heart attack, I mistakenly opened up to someone who encouraged me to talk and said they cared about me and wanted to help just by listening. What happened? That person threw that one conversation we had just 3 wks after my husband died and the friendship I thought we had created over the following year in my face as proof that I needed to move on and get over it already. Why? Because he was her brother, always would be her brother, she loved him more and knew him better than me, and my widow status was meaningless after the first year. Obviously, she and your friend and so many others, they just do not have the capacity to understand or know what we have gone thru and will continue to live with for the rest of our lives, no matter what happens. Yes, I am better than I was right after it happened, but I am NOT over it now and I fully expect to have this hole in my heart forever because part of me died too. You don't get "over it", you learn to live with it. And at 3+ yrs, I am still trying to figure out how to live with it. Lately, it has been very hard and in some ways, I have lost ground in my struggle instead of gaining ground as so many expect. Shoot, they think I am healed already. It is just an act. They don't know or see the real me.