We went to the movies

Since dad passed, I’ve come to realize that when someone you love dies, you don’t just say goodbye at the time of their passing, but also at every crossroad.

I’ve discovered there are endless firsts and tough moments to get through, not just obvious ones like: birthdays or holidays, but many others that are equally, if not more challenging to struggle through under the heavy blanket of grief.

The firsts. Typically, we would look forward to the firsts. Firsts are meant to be happy and something we treasure. But, somewhere along the line, we suffer a loss, and we have to adjust. And then the firsts come and can bring about a sadness that is hard to shake.

For me, I met grief with the understanding that milestones would be hard, one month, dad’s birthday, father’s day etc, but I’m beginning to realize that some of the most difficult things to get past are the things I didn’t see coming.

Dad gave Ciaran this movie gift card on Christmas of 2017. I stuck it in his sock drawer and forgot about it. I found it when Dad was in the hospital. Ciaran had hoped that Papa would get better and that they would go. I hoped too.

Fast forward. The Stand-in Moment. When I’m doing things my Dad should be here doing- taking Ciaran to the movies. We are off to movies. My hearts in my throat.

The Obscure moments. Ciaran and I had this grand adventure planned. Before the movies, we would go to: Tim Hortons, Toys R Us, Dollar Store, Indigo, Lunch, the mall and movies. We dropped Olivia to daycare and went directly to Tim Hortons. We ordered and sat down. I took my first sip of coffee and a man said: “Joey’s daughter?”…I replied, “yes, I am.” The man says, “I miss having him around.” I replied, “you have no idea” as tears filled my eyes. “Is this Ciaran?” he asked. I replied, “yes, this is Ciaran”… “Your papa loved you so much, he was always talking about you.” I replied, “yes, he is papas boy.” I could barely hold my shit together in that moment. We made small talk but my throat was so heavy from swallowing my tears we had to leave.

I recovered from that moment-and we carried on about our day. I looked for Dad everywhere. I wanted to know he was with us on our “adventure.” Nothing. I looked foolishly for dimes, payed attention to songs on the radio. Nothing. Until the mall.

11:11- All the way from heaven

Aimlessly looking. Wasting time before the movies. There he was. Those Unique moments. The moments unique to Dad and perhaps confusing to those who didn’t know him in the exact way I did.

With all of these unexpected moments I can’t help but feel caught between an ache in my heart and a smile on my face. He’s loved, he’s remembered and he’s near.

You are missed beyond measure.

ash xo

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My dad died, and I’m not Ok.

My dad died. I keep saying this in hopes it sets in.

Loss is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Losing a parent who was truly good is devastating. My dad was truly good.

What happened with dad sticks out. It has been the most traumatic event of my life.

How do you tell people you’re not ok? but you’re still going about life? How do you explain going from perfectly normal one day to nearly breaking down, either from grief or anger, or the slightest inconvenience?

How do you answer the most dreaded question, “How are you doing?”

I’ve found the most random triggers are the worst.

Mere words, smells or songs will recall memories which then bring on waves of intense grief crashing over me.

How do you deal with this?

I’m not talking about the support groups, the therapists, the books etc.

Truly, I am glad these things provide support and comfort to others.

Something tells me that my part in this entire situation is time, the minutes, the hours, the days. Time, the most misunderstood and consistent thing we humans ever experience, is the only thing that will, eventually, provide the slightest comfort.

Unfortunately, time does not care about how I feel or whether not I want to move it more quickly or slowly. It simply exists.

To get through I’ve leaned on those who have experienced loss first hand. Firsthand experience is the most valuable thing as I navigate life without my dad. I am grateful to those who have been generous enough and shared with me.

I am also extremely grateful for the people who quite honestly told me they had no idea what I was going through but were thinking of me nonetheless. The honest awareness comforts me in it’s own strange way.  It is a recognition of my pain, and sometimes that is all you want.

Yet, I am still not ok.

The most confounding part is that i’m going to work, paying my bills, reading news and otherwise acting normal. My dads death hasn’t resulted in any spectacular public meltdowns or emotional explosions.

Rather, it’s just this tepid, trickle of sadness mixed with anger.

Since we live in a society driven by labels it seems wrong to be multiple things at once: sad, smiling, hopeful, giving up, trying, angry, accepting.

The fact is, that I cannot control my emotions regardless of how much cardio I do, or how much ice cream I eat. My emotions are very much present.

From what I’ve gathered, grief never goes away. You simply learn to live with it. You adjust your sails.

So, I wait. I wait as the the moments turn into hours and then into days. All I can do is let time continue on. That’s the best I can do.

And that’s ok.

Grief is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We have no control over it.

And so while I adjust to grief, the fact is that it’s never going to be on my preferred schedule. So, it’s about adjusting my sails, holding on and trying to get through.

And, that’s ok.

We grieve because we love. How lucky we are to have experienced that love.

There is nothing that changes your life more than the death of a loved one. I lost my father 11 days ago- and it has rocked me to my very core.

Dad was always known and loved for his incredible sense of humor. Even when I was a small child, he would make me laugh so much I prayed to be just like him. His humor had the ability to reduce the most serious of situations. I always believed that no one could be upset in my father’s presence. He had a gift.

Our relationship was less than perfect- but as the years passed our relationship began to strengthen. He was a rock, a confident and a best friend. And if I’m being honest, he was a dear friend to many. He had an innate ability to connect with anyone and everyone. Whether it was a taxi driver, a friend or a complete stranger- he made them feel valued and they all saw someone with depth. He worked hard, spoke his mind and lived simply. He always played good cop and was everything you would want in a parent.

In December 2018, when dad was first admitted to hospital I spent the majority of my spare time with him. There were many moments where I found myself overwhelmed with sadness at the sight of dads declining health, but weaved within those sad moments, were moments of brilliance.

One evening while visiting dad, I took him out for a cigarette. There was a man sitting outside who was quick to share why he had been admitted into hospital. To make a long story short- dad had an incredible ability to attract people from all walks of life- but this particular man who spoke had a story to tell. He proceeded to tell dad that he was a alcoholic who worked locally at a very  important business. Dad listened to him intently and never once interrupted. Before leaving to go back inside, dad asked the man one question: if you’re operating machinery that close to children, has it ever occurred to you what could happen if you were to hit a child while under the influence? If you are reading this- I know you’re probably asking yourself where is she going with this? Dad was capable of getting through to almost anyone- he wasn’t speaking from a place of judgment but rather a place of love and concern. He could sense the suffering. He was able to ask that man the question floating around in my head, but would never have the courage to ask. Brilliance.

It’s been 11 day without this brilliant man- and it’s absolutely terrifying to imagine life without someone like that. Every time I think of the day in room 313 when his heart stopped and mine continued to beat, I feel so engulfed by pain.

I reflect on the last two months of life while dad was hospitalized and I found strength in places I didn’t know existed. Today, I had to face one of my many ‘firsts’ without dad- my first day back to work. Before waking I had already talked myself out of the day but with some serious coaching from a friend I was able to jump small hurtles and survive the day.

Thinking about my dad overwhelms me with agony because he’s not around anymore, but thinking about him also fills me with immense joy. I think about the many things he taught me, and some of the happiest moments of my life that we shared, and I feel incredibly grateful. Even in the most difficult moments, I’m aware that I’ve been extremely lucky. I think back to that night at the hospital. Maybe what he said didn’t change that man’s life- but it certainly impacted mine.

I truly want to focus on living my life as whole as his, and celebrate every moment the way he would have wanted me to. Despite my greatest efforts, nothing in this world can bring him back, nothing can ever replace his presence, and nothing can ever explain our loss. But acknowledging his lingering presence in my life and living a happy, fearless life is my option B and the greatest way I can honor him.

I am eternally grateful for the past 34 years and for every day I live knowing I’ve been blessed with the greatest father a girl could ask for.

We grieve because we love. How lucky we are to have experienced that love.

I miss you beyond measure dad.

Alarm clock 5:01

There is a very real longing for a lost parent. The pain in my heart is too much. As the days have passed there have been moments when my grief is so overwhelming it takes my breath away.

Today it’s snowing. In fact, it’s storming. Usually dad would call me and say something along the lines of: “did you fill up the tub?” or “did you get your storm chips?” When I realize that phone call won’t be happening- and our phone calls are now memories, and the pain becomes unbearable. There have been several moments since his passing where I’ve wanted to tell him something. Instead, I look up to the sky and whisper, “I miss you dad.”

My dad suffered with an auto immune disease and lived debilitating ramifications for the last 4 years of his life. The last few months have been horrific. There were times near the end of his life when I thought it would be better if his pain and suffering ended. Towards the end of his life I stood by his bed side feeling helpless and begging god to be merciful.

I couldn’t be more wrong. Despite how sick my dad was, and how he suffered, I was not prepared to say goodbye. I was not prepared for the pain of missing my dad. My rational mind knows my dad is pain free and at peace, but my heart is shattered. I miss him beyond words.

When someone you love dies, a part of you sits down and the rest of you moves on because you know you have too. With my dad’s death, there is a part of me that seemingly refuses to move on, to accept that life could be so cruel. The hurt, confused part of me has sat down in a dazed rebellion and the rest of me keeps moving, trying to forge a new life, to get through.

But I know you’re near dad.

The alarm clock just told me so.

Thank you for that.

Ash xo

Dad

Thank you so much for being here today and showing our family and myself that our dad holds a special place in your heart. Seeing all of you allows us to know that our father will be nearby always, because of memories stored within all of you.

Writing this for dad is an honor, but it’s also extremely difficult. What should I say? How do you begin to thank someone whose first gift to you was your very own existence?

I have had some time to think about what I could possibly say to bring honor to our dad. I hoped and prayed for profound words to express what dad meant to me. But all I could come up was this… I loved being dad’s daughter.

Most of you know him as Joe, or Joey. When asked to describe him- I’ve heard people say:

funniest man I’ve ever met

great man

hard worker

always put others first

smart

handsome

and as the years passed he became very soft.

While I could use 1000 words to describe my father, I keep coming back to one thought… Never will you meet a greater man. At the risk of sounding cliché, Dad was one of the greatest men I have ever known—and likely ever will. He was down to earth and tried really hard to always see the best in everyone. Regardless of your age or background he always chose to see the best. You can be certain that 9 times out of 10 he cracked a joke about you at some stage, either to your face or behind your back.

Having spent so much time with my dad in the hospital, we were able to talk about an array of different topics. I truly cherish the time I got to spend with him on completely different levels. Not just as a father and daughter, but a teacher and student and most importantly as a friend.

Some of my most favorite conversations stemmed from our recent times together and I found myself discovering more and more things about him. For example: his first car was a blue VW bug. He told me if there is something in life that you want to do, do it. First job was a paper route at the age of 8. Quit smoking when mom was pregnant with both Ryan and I. He built his first trike (which also ate mom’s sweater while on a date) and he said it wasn’t hard to keep her off it after that. His favorite childhood memory was getting his Kawasaki 125 motorcycle. He loved his brothers and sisters, and he loved our mother.

 What are some things you might not know about dad? 

He loved to go sailing with the captain

never said no to a scotch cookie

in the words of his mother: he was a genius

didn’t mind a bowl of cherries, or a jar of clams

he rearranged his entire day around coronation street (Which lead to the name of his eldest grandchild, Ciaran, the bartender from the street)

he could find an onion in everything even if you tried to hide it

Could remember every joke he ever heard

He loved fishing more than any man I know.

Was his happiest when surrounded by family

He taught Ryan and myself what it meant to put your head down and work

could rarely remember a birthday or anniversary

would set an alarm but always insisted you call and wake him as a backup

And through it all he kept his trademark moustache.

But without a doubt, the most wonderful thing about our father was his humor. Especially at the most inopportune times. His ability to come up with quick witted responses never ceased to amaze me.

These last few months have been tough, as we watched this brilliant man fade quickly. He suffered silently and endured more pain than one person ever should-and he only occasionally lost his sense of humor, and through it all he never once had a moment of self-pity. Hours before passing when his nurse asked him how he was doing, he gave the same answer he gave every day. I’m fine.

We’re all sad, of course, but also much more grateful than I would have imagined. Although cut short by a decade or two, our Dad’s life was overall one of a lucky man. Dad lived the last 3 years of his life like a man who had been given a second chance. He mended relationships, had important conversations, laughed, fished, welcomed 2 grandchildren, and created memories that will live within all of us.

In true Joe Paquet Fashion, I would like to leave you with a joke dad told me while he was in the hospital…

A guy walks into a bar and orders 6 double rum and cokes.

He drank them down real quick.

The bartender said woah buddy you must be celebrating something?

The guy replies, No, you’d drink real fast if you got what I got.

The bartender asks what do you have?

The guy says $1.50

Farewell dad, you did good. You did real good.