A letter to Minnie

  

Six years ago I let Bob talk me into looking at adopting a Great Dane.  When I went on the adoption page and saw your photo, all stretched out on a couch with a bunch of toys in your mouth I said “her – I want her”. A few weeks later he showed up with you in the back car and my life would never be the same. 

I was convinced we’d change your name but when you climbed into the recliner – all 100 lbs of you we knew Minnie would stick.  Later that year when Bob and I decided we would split up I had a tough decision to make and I’ll never regret it for a minute.  I said you can take anything in the house.  I’m keeping Minnie and the TV.  And we slept on a futon mattress on the floor for a week but I had you and that was what mattered.

   

 

I’m sorry that I chose to have someone in our lives who didn’t love you like you deserved but I hope during those couple of years I loved you enough to make up for it.  And once again I never regret making him leave after you had your first seizure and he said he wish you wouldn’t have made it.  I’m sorry it took me so long to see it.

I’m so glad you had a chance to be loved by so many people, Melissa, Valerie, Bayley, Emily, Rob, Jody… The list goes on… I’m glad you had a grandma that spoiled you silly and a great grandma that called me today so sad that she didn’t get to say goodbye… I’m happy in the end that you had a Dad there that loved you more than you can imagine… That would have done anything for you… That was there with you to say goodbye…  

   

  

And you were a great sister to the brother you let sit on your face  

You were so smart, and a bit of a trouble maker… Bananas, really? Spatulas? I mean you chewed through a child lock once… When you wanted something there was no stopping you…

   

  

You taught me what it was like to love unconditionally again… You saved my life more than once… I would say I have to keep going Minnie needs me…  

You frustrated me at times but ultimately you taught me patience… You were there when I came through the door every day and every moment I got to spend with you was a blessing… Life will not be the same… I plan to bury your ashes outside under the bleeding heart plant that you never failed to roll over at some point each summer… And we’ll it’s a bleeding heart flower it doesn’t get much more fitting than that… You are and always will be my angel… Love you baby girl

  

   

           

12 years – Grief Becomes

Today marks 12 years since Dad passed away… is it odd that I wonder how best to describe it… – lost his battle with cancer, died, left us, succumbed to the disease, was called to heaven… I hate them all… passed away seems like the most benign of them all I suppose… so we’ll go with it….

12 years…

Hard to imagine…

I say that every year… every time I add another digit to that total and every year it still feels like yesterday… this year it crept up on me like a sneaky little bugger… Being on vacation, then coming home to a crazy schedule and this weekend I was down with a flu-like virus so all of the sudden I was like crap – seriously Feb 11th where did you come from… I was not ready…

Maybe it’s a good thing… I’m emotional but I didn’t get the chance to dwell.. Maybe it’s because I’m so proud of where my life is at that I’m doing better this year… there’s a whole host of reason’s, then again – I could just be one hot mess by tonight so who knows…

Before I get too deep into this post can we take a second to just admire my dad’s hair… and stache… 2 5

Things of magic they were… and that photo – total James Bond look…

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I went searching for quotes that put into words what I was feeling this year – it’s quite the eclectic mix… this first one – so true… When I think back to when I found out that Dad’s first diagnosis was only for a few months and yet he held on for over two years I can’t even imagine – I was clueless… I just assumed things would keep struggling on… It was like I wasn’t really there while it was all happening… If I ignored it all it couldn’t really be true… there would still be tomorrow… until there wasn’t…

In the photo above the quote I couldn’t even tell you what year that was… I can tell you that Dad was sick… I can tell you that I probably didn’t realize how sick he really was… I can tell you that I thought we still had a lot of tomorrows…

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I found some great photos of my dad from before I was even born and I have to admit I love this stuff – the things that let me glimpse the man he was…

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In the middle after graduation from West Point Military Academy

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On the right – from legend the very last day his face was clean shaven…  I wonder about his friends too and how they have battled their grief because I know how much his death rocked everyone he touched… I think of them today too… because I bet today they might just realize in a gut check moment that 12 years has snuck up on them too…

And there are the photos from when I was too young to remember him and my mom in happier times…

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It’s not much but now I so desperately cling to these as the bits and pieces of him… Like this scrap of paper that was tucked in a folder that brought me to tears last night… He was teaching me how to do a family tree… and when he got to writing himself in – he listed himself as Mr. Wonderful… How amazing that a little piece of his handwriting was the most precious thing I laid my hands on last night… Like for a moment I was touching his hand again…

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After he died I spent half of my time trying to drink away his memory and the other half of the time clinging to anything I could put my hands on which wasn’t much… I have to admit as I sorted through photographs last night I was amazed at how few there were of me and my dad because odds were he was behind the camera taking the pictures… Then I was shocked at the photos I found of the months after he died… where you never would have known the turmoil that was going on… I looked totally fine… which leads me to this next quote…

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This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes on grief because it gives it a picture… When everything was caving in, when everyone was scrambling to put the pieces back together there I was in some sort of insulated bubble… Never did I feel so alone… But I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone… Sometimes I still don’t… this is what anxiety attacks feel like… like everything is completely out of control but you are just there and how do you even get out of it… It won’t last forever though – that’s what you have to remember…

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I often forget that CS Lewis wrote and entire book on grief – A Grief Observed… and if this doesn’t sum it up I don’t know what can… grief can be terrifying because there is no answer and it is never the same, no two people feel it the same way and there is no fix, no cure… and then there are times when grief actually isn’t scary at all which kind of makes it scary… when I was on vacation and I sat on our porch and the sun set and I talked to my dad and I was somber and I was joyous and I said how I wished that I could share this with him… and I grieved…

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Most importantly I remember every day that I feel this deep grief for the loss of my father because of how much he loved me and how much I loved him… was he perfect? Not by a long shot, did we do everything right – nope, was I the best daughter I could have been – no way, I contributed many a grey hair… but he loved me more than I could have ever asked for… and because he loved me and I him, losing him left that much more of a void in my life…

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I miss him every moment of every day… I still, 12 years later, catch myself wanting to pick up the phone to call him and tell him something about my day…. When I have a completely breakdown I still scream out “why aren’t you here I need you”… I still wonder what life would have been life had things gone differently…

It’s the moments when people that knew him tell me how much I remind them of him, or when they say how they wish he could see what a wonderful person I’ve turned out to be, or when they say I hope you know how much he adored you… It’s in those moments that my heart breaks and bursts and I know I’ve done ok… and that I’m managing this grief thing as best as I can…

Take every emotion you can think of… roll it up and live it in a 5 minute span… and there you have grief… fear, love, joy, loss, anger, sadness, hope…

I love you Dad… 12 years….

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The Truth

This won’t be a pretty post. But it’s one that has been a long time coming.

For the past year I have felt as if I was holding back on this blog. Not a lot, but withholding one major part of my life that I find deep shame in and have fallen victim of societies taboo. I’ve gone back and forth time and again on whether I would share this with people I don’t even know.

However, I have come to realize that in overcoming everything that has happened with the loss of my dad, that this is so deeply intertwined that without acknowledging it I will be stuck.

But its time to come clean…

It’s time to take back the night

If you are familiar with that phrase then you are officially clued into what this post is really about.

January 6, 2003 I was raped by an ex-boyfriend.  I had been helping him find a stable living arrangement – mainly to take my mind off of my dying father, and when I showed up that day to check in on him my entire life changed.

I walked out of that place feeling dirty, disgusting and knowing that the outcome would not be a good one.  I told no one, went on living the best I could and kept the secret.  Two days later I curled up in bed claiming to be ill when he showed up at my house. I shook, hid under the covers and was relieved when my mother told him I was not up for visitors.

January 22, 2003 – my 18th birthday.  I don’t even remember it.  I was trying to hard to just cope with life that it passed in a blur.

January 29, 2003 – the pregnancy test indicated positive.  I collapsed, called my mother and finally divulged the secret I had been holding onto for the last 23 days.  All I could remember was telling him as he finally let me up was “what have you done to me?”

A few days later as I saw my dad struggling to hold onto his last bit of life, he asked me what was wrong with me, why I was different.  I told him I was fine and just worried about him.  And in his eyes, in that split second I knew that he knew I was lying and I could see his heart-break.

He passed away February 11, 2003, never knowing what had happened.  It is the one thing that I have had the most difficulty forgiving myself for.  It was a burden I refused to give him and yet he would have been the one person who would have known the right thing to say.

The morning of February 11th,  I got the call that he had passed away.  Later that day I was in the ER, diagnosed as having had a miscarriage.  It is my firm belief that Dad may have not known what was going on while he was alive, but that when he left this world, he took the baby with him.

Would I have kept the baby? I don’t know.  I was always someone who believed in pro-choice in events such as rape, but once faced with the decision I was torn.

Only after the miscarriage did I tell my closest friends what had happened.  Only on occasion is it mentioned, such as mentioning the fact that I drank a gallon of apple juice every couple days, or that I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to bring myself to get pregnant again, and my doubts that if I do, who’s to say it won’t end in another miscarriage.

After February 11th, I did everything I could to ruin my own happiness, I did everything I could to forget.  In my mind, I hadn’t fought him enough, I hadn’t said no loud enough, I had been naive enough to think I could help someone who was beyond saving.

Over the next 8 years I gained nearly 80 lbs, I lost my desire to be who I had once been. I began keeping secrets. I lost me.

Now I need to get me back.  I need to take back my passion, my desire, my happiness.  I need to realize what happened when I was turning 18 does not define my life.  I will win.

And that is the truth, the depths of my pain and the first step in healing.

8 years

Tomorrow morning at 4am will mark 8 years since my dad passed away…

And this is the first year that I haven’t been angry…

Last month I said that I was done being angry, I wasn’t sure if I really meant it, I suppose I did… because in the few times that things have begun welling up inside me since then it has been just overwhelming sadness…

5 stages of grief

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Depending where you go you will see different ideas of the grieving process, 5 stages, 7 stages… but they are all basically the same things… this one I guess made me feel the best about my situation… that mabye I’m on the upswing…

the site also said grieving takes on average 1-2 years, i’m totally skewing that average aren’t I???

I guess I just feel empty now… but I don’t want to punch someone, I don’t want to turn back time and scream at my dad for not understanding what he was doing… I guess I understand that he was probably sick long before anyone noticed and who knows what it was affecting…

I am past wishing I had been a better daughter, maybe realizing that at 16 what are you supposed to do??? at 17 when life is falling apart its something to just be able to save yourself much less your father…

I still hate cancer… I still wish it didn’t exist…

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Sometimes I think that things are the way they are today because he died and maybe there is a reason for that… I guess I can say I see that acceptance stage in the distance like a little light shining at the end of a long tunnel and I am reaching for it… just not sure when I’ll get there…

This year though… on year 8… the pain is a little less than it was on year 2 and year 5 and year 7… but doesn’t mean I won’t cry… doesn’t mean I don’t still wish he was here, doesn’t mean that I still don’t miss him…