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.
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.