Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole
Just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound
But while you debate half empty or half full
It slowly rises, your love is gonna drown

- from the song “Marching Bands of Manhattan” by Death Cab for Cutie

Last Thursday, June 10th, I hit the four-year mark. I anticipated it, I eyeballed the date for days leading up to it. I felt the fluttering fingers of dread rise up in my stomach. Four years since I watched my father take his last breaths, four years that have seen changes and sorrow and laughter and joy and struggles and anger. Oh the mighty anger. In the beginning of those four years, it felt like being in a blender. Nothing would ever return to how it was, the very essence of who I was had been forever changed, and even intellectually you grasp that, of course not, there is a dividing line between Before and After. But you want Before like never before. And you fear After and that it will erase Before and you also find out who your true friends are. People will tell you you’ve changed (and not for the better) and they won’t understand that the faucet of grief doesn’t shut off in three months. That priorities shift and change. In fact, it seems to just be getting started, the grief, because everyone else has moved on and you are rooted in the new reality, confused. And you feel your love and your life will all drown. Your head goes under. Sometimes you think about staying under, too. Nights in the bathroom, on the back steps, crying. Sobbing in the shower, weeping in the car, how can so much sorrow live and thrive in one human’s space?
I miss my dad. Now, though, when I dream about him, it is a comfort. A friendly visit, even if the dream is crazy. His face, his voice, his laugh and the memory of his hugs are etched into my soul. That, I must say, is the thing for which I am most grateful. As I’ve aged, details and names and memories get muddied, blurred, fall away. I feared so badly my father’s memory would follow suit. My grief was my hair shirt, one coping mechanism of keeping him alive, assuaging any guilt I felt about having a laugh or a moment that resembled normal. Eventually I realized my grief became less paralyzing. And in the middle of the afternoon on June 10, last week, I was busy working, as I had been all day. I looked at my calendar on my desktop and frowned. I said the date out loud and then it hit me. It was June 10th. Here and Now. That Day. I felt an instant stab of guilt that I had spent half my day without realizing That Day Was Here Again. Then I thought, wow. All of you people who have walked this road before me were right.
It really does get better.

7 Responses to “Hope Floats”
  1. lauragayle says:

    HUGS. Don’t feel guilt. You’re living. That’s what you’re supposed to do. And your Dad is still with you, ever-present in your memory and your love. Really. And will continue to be. As long as you remember him and love him, he is still with you.

  2. Chelle says:

    You are so real in your emotions – and you express them so honestly. I love your blog. I love your humor – thanks for expressing what so many are afraid to express. Aren’t we all sad people, with deep hurts, who carry around the people we have lost inside of us? But in “polite society” we so seldom can express it because many people really DO want to live on the surface and not face the grief, theirs or anyone else’s maybe?

    My brother has been gone for nearly two years now. We were close, very close, growing up, but had grown apart in adulthood because of his alcoholism. Luckily right before he died, we reconciled and he also did with my mother. Thank goodness we had that chance – and I feel sick for all the wasted years. But at any rate, most of the time I do ok with it, but every now and then I STILL feel a stab of fresh pain – but I acknowledge it and move on. The pain is good, it’s okay – and it does get better over time. Thanks for being you and expressing what so many others, like me, often feel but don’t express.

  3. korin says:

    Oh Jen, I really think of you often at the beginning of June… as 4 years ago I was waiting (im)patiently for my life to change, and I so vividly remember reading of your dad’s passing. I thought it so poignant that someone whom I’d never met, but felt so dear to was losing someone entrenched in their heart, just as I was finally gaining one that I’d ached for, for so long.
    I’m so glad that it’s getting better, and I’m so glad that you’re still honest and open with your grief. As always, I am sending my love to your dear tender heart during this difficult time of year. <2

  4. korin says:

    (that was supposed to be a heart, not <2… <3 )

  5. you are an amazing, strong, inspiring woman. a woman he would be proud of.

    (sorry for ending that one in a preposition…lol)

  6. Rae says:

    Its nice to actually hear it from someone who has been there about it getting easier. My mom passed away 2 yrs ago in May & every Jan when her bday comes it sucks then Mothers Day & then the day she passed & I feel the sense of loss all over again. I got tired of people telling me it gets easier with time especially people who had never lost someone as close as a parent before . I thank you for sharing your story I letting me know that it does get better eventually.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I was just talking with my aunt about this very subject last night. I lost my dad 5 years ago and I told her (she’s his sister) that I almost felt guilty about Father’s Day and me not melting into a puddle of sorrow. But it did get better for me and at least now when I think of him I smile, though with fondness and regret. And I no longer feel the sucker punch in my gut when I see his smiling face in my mind.

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