Feel Your Feelings
Saturday would have been my dad's 64th birthday. It's still so very hard to believe that he's not with us in this life anymore...and although time is passing, I'm starting to feel like it's always going to be unreal. The last six months have proven that grief is such a complex thing to navigate, constantly taking you back and forth and through a wide spectrum of emotions and stirring up memories along the way - some are great and welcome, some are terrible and cruel.
When my dad first passed away, we received some great advice about moving through grief. We were told that in order to grieve in such a way that you don't get "stuck" in grief, it's important to feel your feelings - don't try to bottle them up or stuff them down, even though the urge is absolutely there; it seems easier to just try to avoid the pain than to face it. This idea sounds simple enough...but man, it is hard. Feeling your feelings is facing the fact and admitting that he isn't here anymore, that he's not going to be with us when our first child is born, or when that child graduates. He's not going to be here when we accomplish something important that he would be so proud of. He's not going to be here to text me the next time Aaron Rodgers scores a touchdown on a final-play hail mary. (That last one is super important 😊). Facing these things is a long process, and an extremely difficult one. And sometimes the reminders and subsequent pain will just hit you out of nowhere, like a jack in the box that's been winding for far too long. We all know it's going to pop up eventually. Grief is messy, and hard, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But I'm determined to face it head-on, because getting stuck in grief is not a great life, and it's certainly not honoring to his legacy. He would want us to move forward, heads held high, and continue to live our best life.
I have come to take comfort in this verse from 1 Thessalonians 4 - "...grieve not as those who have no hope." We do have hope that we will see him again. We know where he is and that he is still with us in some way. I feel like he's with me from time to time..it's not something that can be explained, just a knowing that he's over my shoulder watching over me. And those moments help to carry me between the difficult ones.
In honor of my dad's birthday, I'll leave you with some of my favorite memories of him. They're snapshots, really... how I will always remember him. With a guitar in his hands playing and singing to whoever would listen (even if it was just the dogs). Playing his keyboard in the basement - so loud. Building a fire and going on and on about how amazing his stove was and how hot the fire was getting. Always taking the stairs from the basement two at a time - always. Sitting in his office working, but always making a point to come out and give us a hug when we came over. Passionately talking about politics (we won't go into this one). And always laughing with mom. We miss you, dad, and we will miss you forever.