He used to decorate the entire house, garage and every bush and tree with Christmas lights. He even took big sheets of wood from the garage and stapled the lights to them in a way that read "God bless you all" and put it out on the lawn. You could see them from all the way down the street. He took out all the sleds and he'd lay down on one, on his stomach and we'd all pile on - toppling over as we went down our hill. The driveway was lined with candy canes and a big Santa sat at the top. He'd dip his boots in the fireplace ashes and then make footprints through the living room so that we "knew" that Santa had definitely come. One year he piled all the presents in front of the steps and we'd laugh as we tried to figure out how to make our way past them into the living room. Every year it was something new. He loved Christmas.
I think one of the hardest things about coping with this kind of death, is knowing that it's forever. Knowing that none of those things will ever happen again.... ever. That it's not just a hard phase, or a gap of time. Every new experience is one without him. And all the things that I get excited the most about for the future, are things that I would want him to be there for. But now, until forever, he won't be. Physically at least...
They say, this is the next phase of grieving. They say.
But "they also say" that God only gives us things and experiences that he knows we can handle. And that the hardships and challenges are always packaged with growth and development. And I DO believe that.
This year I've learned more than I could have every imagined about life, about myself, about my dad and his life, about love and relationships, about family… And I’ve come to appreciate him and all of his accomplishments in an entirely new way. And I believe he knows and feels that even though I can’t see him.
I've tried to continuously remind myself that if I get too buried in the sadness, I'll be closed off to the messages and the reminders - or the communications from my dad that no longer exist in language.
And I'm convinced that some spirits just don't belong here.
That some spirits are meant to exist in another realm and guide us from a different place. That maybe in order for some of us to truly live, others must die. And so maybe my dad is up there for the purpose of watching over me, my mom and sisters, to help and guide us in ways that we will only know if we stay aware and open to receiving it.
And I'm convinced that there's a peace that his soul has found "up there" that he could not find "down here."
And it gives me some comfort to know that. To know that the struggles he was facing "here" are no longer.
Christmas will be really hard... it already is. But I'm really grateful to have had all the years and memories that I did with my dad. And now I'm grateful to have an angel - and a pretty badass one at that ;).
I hope we can all go into the holidays knowing that time with family is precious and won’t be there forever. Let’s not take it for granted.
Love you and miss you dad.