I’m wondering if this is specific to me, or if others feel this way as well. I’d love to hear that.
I’ve noticed a trend on my birthday since I lost my dad in 2012, and that is that the grief hits me like a huge wave. The kind of that knocks you right off your feet, salt water goes up your nose, and you are paralyzed just floating through the water for a second. That may seem dramatic, but that’s what the initial moment of realization feels like. The moment when you realize you are now 26, and your father will never “know” 26 year old Stephani. Admittedly, this flood of emotion usually takes place the days before, or after a birthday for me. The day of is usually filled with so many distractions that it doesn’t have time to creep in.
This morning I was hit by the metaphorical wave on my drive in to work. The gray skies and days of persistent rain really aren’t helping.
For most I think a new year starts on January 1, and to an extent I agree with that. But more so for me, a new year starts on your birthday. I think back on things I did in my year 23, not in the year 2014. Year 22: I met Jamie, finished grad school and moved out on my own. Year 23: I started my career job. Year 24: bought a house, got engaged. Year 25: married. A couple of pretty monumental moments I had to do without him. It only makes me wonder what could happen in year 26 that I will have to go through without him.
As a side note, the hardest one of these was buying a house. Buying a house without your dad’s seal of approval, without him there to fix the broken dishwasher, or climb around the attic to check on things; it felt so wrong and I hated a lot of that process. Getting married was hard too, the planning phase would not really have been his scene, but the day of without him was tough. Again, distractions keep you busy but there are waves of, “holy shit he’s really not here.”
My point is that grief hits you at so many different times, some really obvious moments and some strange ones. Like when someone else’s Dad cracks a joke and suddenly you feel like you got punched in the gut, your ears start ringing and it feels quiet even though everyone in the room is laughing while you are swallowing back tears. This one is weird because jokes shouldn’t make you feel like that. But when you realize your dad will never meet your in-laws and get his chance to do that, it can really get into your head.
This post got longer than I meant it to, and I could talk about a lot more moments like these but I’ll spare you all the details. I do believe in Heaven, and signs from above and all of that; and my dad hasn’t abandoned me, he comes around a lot in his own way. It’s different, and it’s hard. He was the person who I took after most, he understood me and I him. Here’s to year 26, and continuing to become the person he taught me to be…