It’s been three years since Dad died. I wrote this piece immediately after his funeral. I couldn’t post it. It was too close. Three years on, I have come into a different place of grief than what I talk about in the original post. I have more times when there is the pain of loss, the anger at him missing out on accomplishments of my family, the sadness of things I want to share with him. Grief is a strange burden that changes and hides and comes at unexpected times. This is a long post and it’s certainly more personal than most posts, but if you’re interested, please read on.
I’ve put off writing this post for three weeks. Has it been more? Three and a half? This has nothing to do with education and everything to do with me as a person. Me as a learning, growing and changing person.
So, I’m going to start where I stopped. I’m pretty sure this is going to fall into the category of TLDR (too long, didn’t read) for some of you, and that’s okay. Like I said, this is for me, and it’s something that I need to get out…
…This morning I buried my dad. I say I buried him, but my mom, my brother, and our families buried my dad, my mom’s husband of 52 years, and 5 girls Grandpa/PopPop.
It was a cold, beautiful sunny morning. The minister met us there and read from his Book of Worship, he said a brief prayer, and then it was over. The whole thing was less than 15 minutes. This is what Dad wanted. He laid out some very specific plans with our preacher. This summer when he was in the hospital he told the family, “Whether I get out of here or not, call the preacher and make an appointment with him. I have some things I need to tell him.”
Later in the afternoon, we held a memorial for him. It was a celebration of his life. It wasn’t a funeral because there wasn’t a casket. It was a memorial service. It was the memorial service that my dad wanted. The service played out as Dad planned it.
The family received family and friends for over an hour. It was incredibly moving. I was very touched by the amount of people that came to pay respects to my dad. I was beyond touched by the number of my friends that showed up to support me.
When it happened, Dad passing, I was with my students as they were rehearsing for the annual Trinity School Christmas Program. I knew it was coming, my whole family did. We had moved Dad from the hospital to home hospice, but still when I got word it was a sudden slamming on the brakes.
I’ve been making it through as the time has passed. I never thought I wouldn’t, but I’ve been oddly okay with the whole thing. My dad died, though, and I feel like there’s some way that I should be feeling. Obviously, I’m sad. I miss him. I miss him calling me to tell me about an Eagles concert on PBS or calling when he’s at the farm asking if there’s anything I need when he literally couldn’t do it b/c he was 65 miles away.
But I haven’t been so sad that I can’t function. And I feel like I’m not doing it right.
I know there’s not a prescribed way to grieve. I know that, but still…
A couple of weeks after he had died I was in my Man/Boy Room. One of the cats had knocked junk over, as cats are known to do. When I went to clean it up I found the notes that my students had made for me the day Dad died.
That opened up the tear ducts. They had written me personal messages, they had included Bible verses. It makes me tear up a little right now as I’m writing this. They are so touching, and it means so much to me that my seventeen 10-11-year-olds reached out to me in this way.
It was one of those moments that solidifies my choice in careers. I never doubt being a teacher. Well, maybe every once in a while when I haven’t gotten enough sleep and the lesson I thought would take an entire period crumbles after a few minutes.
Where’s this even going? Honestly, I don’t know. I think it’s like the title says, I’m processing. And part of that processing is being back in the swing of my normal routine. Being surrounded by seventeen 5th Graders that I can share my world with. I give to them and they give to me. Sometimes it’s an even swap and sometimes it’s more one way than the other. And that’s what it’s about, right? Give and take?
One of the things I said in Dad’s service was about something he gave me, and that is to always help someone out when you can. Always make that choice to help someone out because you never know when you might need some help. And that goes along with the process of give and take.
I miss you, Dad, and I’m sad that you’re not with us anymore, but you left us with so much. I hope to be able to do the same.