“When someone you love is dying, you’re dying.” – Viola Davis

For months now, I’ve had cravings. Not your, or my, typical hankering a for chocolate, ice cream, or any other mouth watering treat; although, the local ice cream parlor has been my therapy this summer. I’ve craved the beach and it’s clear waters to wash my soul. I’ve craved travel adventures to reenergize my spirit. I’ve craved new home decor, and even considered moving in an effort to find order and a fresh start. With each scenario, I eventually come to the conclusion that this is not the cure. When it’s all done, I will be left with the same, unquenched feeling of, “I need something.” It wasn’t until today that I realized, over my morning coffee, that this craving, searching, longing, is in actuality for myself.

Amongst the swirl of tie dyed emotions, I understood right away that we are each so different now, my father and I. I will always be different than my previous self. Much like becoming a parent changes your perspective, so does watching a loved one pass away. No matter how peaceful or painful, losing a loved one is a life changing event. I see situations and events in a whole new light through a clear, filtered lens. I have no tolerance for anything that doesn’t matter.

The act of grieving is rarely shared or discussed. Death has been simplified, glorified, and served as common staples in violent movies. Along with my life of privilege and limited contact with dying, I was left unprepared. As the saying goes, until you know, you don’t.

I needed to get to know the new us, as in our relationship and as individuals. These past 4 months have been mostly focused on him. Visiting his grave, feeling his comfort and guidance, and welcoming him in my dreams keeps us connected.  I’ve learned, and experienced that my father is not dead. He is simply not here in a physical presence. I don’t prefer the term “died” as it implies a finality. I believe that although his body is done, his soul is living. He is living. He is present and at peace. I can not touch him, hold his hand, hug him, or smell him any longer. However, I will continue to hold onto his voice as long as I can. I still hear him tell me, “you be darn careful, call when you get there,” as I left for my 2 hr commute. When I was stranded on a recent 2 hour commute, a kind stranger and his sons changed my flat tire without accepting any payment. When Mr. Kind simply gave the response, “it was the right thing to do,” I knew my father had sent him.

It’s not that I’ve ignored myself. I have rested. I’ve dealt, well am dealing, with the sadness and loss. I’m learning new, and even old, lessons. I’m learning self reliance. I am trying to recover and process the effects of the last 6 months. Perhaps, it’s time for me to shift focus and actively work on me. This being my first step.

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