Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Today was hard, probably the hardest day yet.

Without the numbing effects of shock and disbelief to cradle me, I felt the loss of my Dad profoundly today. 

Father's Day.

It helps me to write in this space.  Someday soon I won't only write about losing my Dad, but for now writing about how I'm feeling gives me some peace of mind.

I get a daily email from Hazeldon, a recovery organization.  I haven't opened one in a while, but today's reflection hit home:

"Grief may be a pathway to our deepest connections.
People often say, "I don't want to burden you with my troubles, you have enough to worry about." Yet sharing our troubles with our partner or close friends lightens our burden and restores our balance. Telling someone our experiences and how we feel about them helps us find and create the meaning that lurks behind them, even though they at first seem only crazy and random. Sharing with others pulls us out of isolation and brings our friends and mate into the circle of our lives.
We may be surprised to feel the knots in our stomachs loosen when we tell our stories and recount our worries or grief. Grief may make us feel more alone than anything. But it may also be a pathway for our deepest connection with each other. When we reach out and talk with our friends or mate, we break down the wall of isolation and build bridges that connect us."
This has certainly been true for me. I am surrounded by loving friends and family, and as I talk to them I do feel the coil in my gut loosen, the knot in my shoulders unclench. A burden shared is indeed a burden cut in half.

And, of course, life trudges on. Today was a beautiful day; the sun was shining in a clear blue sky, and we made our way into the city to honor the other amazing Dad in our lives:  Steve.

I met my mother and brother for a beautiful service at the church where we will hold my Dad's memorial service on Thursday.  It is a big, beautiful old church, one my parents attended together, and praying there brought some measure of comfort and peace.  When they read my Dad's name during the prayers for the departed, I felt a kind of lightness, felt his spirit living on in all of us.

But, oh, how I missed his strong presence at my side.

We prowled around Boston, strolled through Boston Common and took in the sights.

The kids enjoyed a carousel ride, a huge gelato sundae, and a ride on Boston's famous swan boats. 

Their chocolately grins and gleeful ability to live in the moment, as they skipped through the gardens, posed for pictures on statues - all while playfully asking questions - pulled me from my reverie and deep sense of loss for a while. Kids are amazing that way.

We smile a lot, laugh with abandon, hug each other tighter. We muddle through the maelstrom of emotions that buffet us about at random. We mourn, we honor, we love.

How lucky am I to have know two such incredible Dads in my life? One that raised me, and one that is helping me raise my kids.

When we got home, there was the Sunday paper waiting on our front stoop.  My Dad's obituary, even though I knew it would be there, was a jarring reminder of the finality of his death.  

I finally allowed myself to fall apart a little. I went upstairs to our bedroom, crawled under the sheets, and wept.  And then I fell into a deep, dreamless and much-needed sleep.

A couple of hours later, Greta and Finn poked me awake with huge grins on their faces.

"Momma!  You needa come see the show! It starts in three minutes!"

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, took a deep breath, and put a smile on my face. They led me by the hand outside, where Steve was already waiting, and put on an elaborate circus act for us on their swing set.  Finn demonstrated his patented moves:  the "Tangle", the "Bellyflop" and the "Twist".  Greta acted as ringleader, a triumphant smile on her face.  

"TA-DA!" they shouted, as they took a final bow and Steve and I clapped like mad.

And so we trudge forth, our little family, with sadness and gratitude.  And each other.


  1. Oh Ellie. I've been thinking about you today. This is a very beautifully written post. Hang in there.

  2. A bittersweet day...I lost my Dad several years gets a little easier as time goes on (a little). Thoughts are with you and your family.

  3. Thought of you today. *hugs*

  4. My deepest sympathies, as I lost my dad in March after a 2-month illness. The grief journey is eye-opening to say the least.


  5. I whispered a last goodbye to my Dad in 1994, less than 2 weeks before Father's Day, so I know exactly how it feels. His Birthday & this holiday are sometimes difficult but these many years later my pain has become a sweet sadness & a lovely gratitude for the blessing in my life that was my Daddy. In the early days I would sometimes find myself with the phone in my hand before I would remember... Nowadays, I often just talk to him about whatever is on my mind. I believe he hears me. My heart feels it's true.

    I will pray for the day when your pain will be accompanied by a measure of remembered joy, and that the joy will increase as time wears away at the sharp edges of your pain. We carry our Father's love in our hearts, always.

  6. So glad you had a good time with your husband and kids, you deserve happiness. Kids are good that way in helping with grief and sadness! I will pray for you for the day when the happiness will last longer and not accompanied by pain. Such a cliche, but so true, TIME helps heal all wounds. Stay close to your family and friends!

  7. Thought of you. At Mass, Father had the entire congregation honor the Fathers in attendance. As we were all clapping, I thought, "And Ellie's Dad too".

  8. I was hoping you'd find a way to escape the grief a little on Sunday, and I'm glad you did.

    And on a completely separate note-may I say that your kids have wonderful taste in headwear? GO BREWERS!

  9. Oh, so sorry to hear your news, Ellie! We lost my FIL suddenly last year and it is all surreal, for a while. I'm glad you have your family with you.

  10. Oh Ellie this is beautiful! I'm so glad that you took time to laugh and also to let out the emotions. We cannot hide from our emotions or outrun them, praise God we've learned that!
    I'm praying over here, that in each day you continue to find the serenity, courage and wisdom to stay plugged in through this.

  11. I know I should see more in this post besides THE BREWER HATS! But um, GO BREWERS! Is someone in your family from Milwaukee? Or are your kids just that awesome?

    love you lady!

  12. What a beautiful post. I am a regular reader and have been thinking of you this week. I lost my mom in January and my father 10 years ago. Be gentle with yourself and let your emotions be what they are. Happy at unexpected times; sad and angry at other times. Time really does make it easier.