I feel like I just have to get it all out.
I feel like it keeps spilling out onto everything lately and people are going to start screaming at me “Get over it already!” Or “You have to focus on what you do have!” Or “You aren’t the only person who’s ever lost someone.”
Maybe that’s because it’s what I’m yelling at myself on the inside. And I feel like if I just let it all out then it will stop spilling into every post.
During the time of year that celebrates togetherness and family I can’t help but feel an emptiness. Because in the last 5 years I have lost 4 very significant people in my life. Starting in 2013 with…
This one hurt hard. Losing Grandma made death very real for the first time in my naive life. She had lung cancer and the chemo had her body so weak she caught pneumonia. It was a long and brutal two weeks. I remember the phone call a little after 10pm from my mom. I hate when the phone rings in the middle of the night. It’s never good.
“Tara! Grandma died.”
I drove to Royal Plaza minutes later to say goodbye. I remember Papa holding me and quietly whispering “You’re okay. You’re okay” over and over again like he was saying it as much to himself as he was to me.
And life hasn’t been the same since. She was one of the staples in my dad’s side of the family. When she left us our family slowly began to unravel. It’s when dad’s drinking became a coping mechanism. It’s when family gatherings no longer felt the same so we just…stopped. It’s when Papa’s health went downhill…
Papa left us in 2015. He was living at the Royal Plaza. It wasn’t even 2 years without Grandma. He wasn’t doing well. His memory was fading fast and he hated people telling him what to do. An assisted living situation was hard on him.
I went to see him a couple days before he left just to sit with him. Actually, I had shown up the day prior but he had fallen in the bathroom. When I walked into his room he was laying on the floor. He said, “Hi Sis” and laughed a little. I think he was embarrassed. Since the nurses were helping him I promised to return the next day and left. I kept my promise and went to sit with him the next day. He didn’t have much to say. Such a quiet man. So we just sat. I had no idea it would be the last time I’d get to sit with him. I am so so grateful for that moment. I said “I love you Papa” and he said “I love you too hon” and I left.
Two days later at 1:00 in the afternoon my mom called.
“Tara! Papa died.”
He had fallen out of bed the night before and hit his head on the night stand. That day he went to sleep in his chair and never woke up.
It was deja vu driving to the Royal Plaza. But I got to go see him and say goodbye. I’ll never hear “Hi Sis” again and often that pricks my eye with a tear.
Losing his father was very hard on my dad. And not but 2 years later my mom would lose hers…
They don’t all hurt the same. Each is as unique as the different relationships. Each intimate in their own way. I wasn’t ready to not have our cowboy on Earth, but I was ready for God to take his pain.
Papa Jim struggled with a weak heart for years. It was hard for him to breath and got to the point that he couldn’t take care of himself anymore. He hated assisted living! He hurt. Life wasn’t enjoyable anymore. God graced him with Heaven. It was May 2017.
Papa was taken to Gritman Medical Center in Moscow. Papa helped build Gritman and it’s where my Uncle Mike is treated many times during his life with ALS. So Papa felt comfortable there. He was also made to feel comfortable as his poor heart did all it could to beat. My mom called with updates all the time. 30 minutes after her last update I got the final call from her…
“Tara. Papa just died.”
(I am being 100% real my moms words were the exact same every phone call! With Papa Jim’s her voice wasn’t as urgent. It was a lot softer.)
Everything about Papa Jim’s funeral was traditional. He had an open casket with a viewing. His 8 grandchildren carried his casket to the grave site for the burial. It was beautiful.
Life felt so different. It’s hard to lose that many important people in just 3 years. My dad lost both his parents and my mom lost her dad. I lost 3 of the 4 very special grandparents in my life.
My dad struggled to cope. Addiction had grabbed hold of him.
Loved ones of an addict walk a very fine line between supporting and enabling. It’s also very confusing mixed with pounds of guilt. How to support them yet protect yourself from their disease? I don’t have the answer.
This one is still raw.
He had fallen at home. My family will never know what he hit his head on or how he fell. We will never know the details. That’s between God and my dad. What we do know is that he had a nasty black eye and two days later we discovered he had massive brain bleeding. The bleeding had formed an enormous clot on the side of his brain. Emergency surgery discovered brain damage and resulted in some brain tissue being removed. He never left the ICU. My mom and I had to make the decision to lift his life support. We were with him when he took his last breath. My hand was on his heart when it stopped beating…
And this is our first Christmas without him. My first couple of months without him. August 1, 2018. Life will never be the same.
I didn’t write this post for sympathy. I just had to let it out. This post has been stewing inside of me. Sometimes I feel like I need somebody, anybody, just to acknowledge that I’ve experienced a great deal of loss in a short amount of time and that that’s hard.
I preach gratitude all of the time. I dive into personal development daily. I’m constantly surrounded with living in the moment and being grateful for what I have. And I live it. So at times I make myself feel like I am wrong for all my grieving.
There is no time limit on grief.
It’s possible to feel sadness and joy at the exact same time. It’s possible for a heart to hold a whole lotta gratitude even though there’s a hole in it. It’s possible to love God and trust God and wish things were different.
If you are missing someone this holiday season I want to hear about them. And I want to pray for your heart. Because Christmas time is hard without our people.