A future without him

9 May
me with Dad

The last photo I took with my father in April, 2016

One week ago today, my world changed forever. A nurse from the rehab where my Dad was staying called with news. The woman had an accent and at first I was confused… so I asked her to repeat what she’d said. “I’m so sorry but your father has passed away.” This time her words were clear and all at once it felt like the floor was falling away beneath me. Even though I’ve known that this day would come, those words were still so very hard to hear.

The last week has been filled with a “busyness” I’d never have chosen to go through. Thankfully, I’ve been able to weather it with the help of my husband, Emile. He has been the rock I needed and has held me as I sobbed, made me eat when I didn’t even know I was hungry, and helped me to be patient when all  I wanted to do was scream (think Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment). I’m so grateful that he was with me to help me navigate this life transition in as graceful a way as possible .

When I try to make sense of my sadness, I think it’s because for many years I’d wanted for my Dad to be happy and yet, try as I might, I always felt like I’d failed. I wonder how I thought I could have ever have made up for the life situations he faced? As a child he saw much hardship—and then before he was 25 he lost his Dad, two brothers, and a child. In later years, he lost my Mom to cancer and my sister, Nancy, to Cystic Fibrosis. His world wasn’t just half-full, at times it seemed damn near empty!

Throughout the years, Dad and I rarely found a way to talk about the pain in his life.  That wasn’t something we knew how to do.  The last time I was able to take him out to dinner, however, he sipped a glass of wine and told me a few stories that were new to me. As I listened to him, I wondered who he might have become under different circumstances.  When I took him back to his assisted living facility, he joked with his nurse and then they both laughed out loud.  That laugh brought a smile to my face, and Dad said, “You don’t even know why we’re laughing” and I replied, “It’s not important… I’m just so glad to see you happy.”

Dad was never one to offer words of praise… I guess because he’d never heard them himself.  That’s probably why I’ve been amazed to find so many pictures, emails, newspaper articles, and other mementos of my sisters and our families stuffed throughout his condo. Clearly, even though he didn’t know how to say it, his family meant the world to him.  That knowledge will help me face a future without him.

This journey of loss has just begun. I ask that you please be patient with me as I travel it.

“One should never be ashamed to cry.  Tears are rain on the dust of earth.” Charles Dickens

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

A quiche I baked for my father’s neighbor in Florida

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22 Responses to “A future without him”

  1. Carrie Prechtel May 9, 2016 at 7:29 PM #

    Karen, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I’m sending you a big hug and I hope to give you one in person soon.
    Carrie

  2. WilliamC2013 May 9, 2016 at 7:55 PM #

    You are in my thoughts and prayers, Karen

  3. Donna Wright May 9, 2016 at 8:48 PM #

    Karen, I am so very sorry about your Dad. Silas and I both enjoyed talking with him at church when he was living here. Reading your article made me so sad because of your loss and to hear about all your Dad had gone through. You will be in our thoughts. Love you…

  4. Leslie Adams May 9, 2016 at 8:57 PM #

    I’m so sorry honey. Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m surrounding you and your family with love and prayers, Karen. I’m here for you always love.

  5. Mary May 9, 2016 at 10:10 PM #

    Dear Karen, So many days I have thought about you and wondered how you…and your Dad have been doing. So sorry to hear that he has passed and that you are dealing with the emotions that go with that. I hope to be with you soon…I miss seeing you and know that you have been dealing with life with him, now without him. Love to you.

  6. Lorraine R. Cook May 10, 2016 at 4:58 AM #

    Dear Karen, Thank you for this beautiful sharing. I love the picture of you and your Dad and the stories about him. I’m sorry for your loss, and grateful for the Love you are and how you share that love with all of us who share your world. Your Dad knew he was loved by his beautiful daughter–that was a great gift of his life. May your heart be comforted, Lorraine

  7. Rebecca May 10, 2016 at 7:17 AM #

    Blessings on your painful journey. God be with you.

  8. Emile Amarotico May 11, 2016 at 6:29 AM #

    This is beautiful Karen.

    Thank you for the honorable mention. I am glad that I could be there and an still “there for you”.

    I love you more than you’ll ever know.

    Xoxox,

    Emile via Android

    • pieadaygiveaway May 12, 2016 at 10:37 AM #

      Thank you for all you do for all of us…
      You send me… honest you do.
      xxoo

  9. Grush May 11, 2016 at 7:27 AM #

    Dear Karen, He’ll never be forgotten, but his pain is no more, for him or for you. I hope you’re heart is finding peace and comfort. Love Ellen

    • pieadaygiveaway May 12, 2016 at 10:34 AM #

      Ellen, Each tidbit I find seems to tell a story… ones that he’d never shared. And then yesterday my Uncle Frank told me that Dad’s grandfather died on May 2, 1914… 102 years to the day before my Dad. Interesting…
      xxoo

  10. Cathy Higgins May 11, 2016 at 10:16 AM #

    This is the role of children, to become the care givers of their parents and to transition to the new role of family ‘elder’ – although we are hesitant to picture ourselves at this stage (since we see our selves as still so young). We are lucky to have this chance and our kids look to us to see our grace, willingness to show emotion and complicated feelings, and to remind those still around us how much we love and appreciate them. Your words will help me when my turn comes with my parents – inevitably. Carry on, carry love.
    Cathy

  11. Lauretta Burke May 12, 2016 at 9:15 AM #

    That was a beautiful sharing. You have always been the essence of the word love to me. And a part of that is real caring, emotion and an ability to cry. I love the picture of you and your dad.

    My deepest sympathy for you and your rock on this journey.

    Lauretta

    • pieadaygiveaway May 14, 2016 at 4:50 AM #

      Thank you Kathy. Preparing for the mass this morning… And u said I’d be a pall bearer too as we don’t expect many strong men at the service. xxoo

    • Gary Einhorn May 23, 2016 at 6:30 AM #

      So sorry to hear of your loss. You have a wonderful way with words to express how much your Dad meant to you. May your sadness be not to hard to bear Karen.

  12. Kathryn Campbell May 13, 2016 at 4:55 PM #

    Karen,
    My heart is with you…so sad. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day, Thank you for sharing yourself and your journey with of all of us…a huge circle of love surrounds you.
    Peace….Kathy

  13. Dan and Margaret Maymar May 14, 2016 at 10:29 PM #

    We are so sorry, shocked and saddened by the loss of your dad. Karen, We watched you take care of him with such love and patience even though it wasn’t always reciprocated. You will have many crowns in heaven! We are so glad we were able to meet him.
    Love Margaret and Dan

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