I'm struggling today.
I have always been one to openly admit to the people around me that I am struggling. I have always been one to need to talk about or write about things. But over the past few months, I can't bring myself to utter a word about my struggles with grief and anxiety- especially related to my dad.
I'm sad today. The holidays are hard. It's another reminder of Joshua's absence. We should be buying gifts for a 3 1/2 year old boy. He should be helping us bake and decorate sugar cookies. But he's not here. It's another year of not knowing my son. Not knowing who he would be, or what he would like. It's another reminder of what we lost.
Not only that, but 2 years ago, my dad and I took the kids to see Santa while Shane was working. His back was hurting the entire time the kids were decorating paper bags and gingerbread houses. He kept needing to sit down while we waited in line to see Santa. It was just a few weeks after our last outing to see Santa that we found out he had stage 4 lung cancer. Out of the blue, dad was gone.
I have an easier time talking about Joshua. He was my baby. I birthed him. I nursed him. I sat at his bedside making every single medical decision for him for 51 days. He was and continues to be my child. I still parent him even though he is dead. He is alive in our family- he's still my child.
But not my dad. I had to share him. He was mine, but he wasn't. He was a son, a husband, a brother, an uncle, and a dad to my brother. He wasn't mine like Joshua was. I knew my dad in ways that I didn't know Joshua. I had 27 years with him. He was my life, my hero, my encourager, my entertainment, my advisor and the mediator between me and my mom- a relationship that has always been rocky. Without him my life fell apart again.
I can't bring myself to talk about the grief that I struggle with when it comes to losing my dad. I cannot force the words to come from my mouth. The pain is too much.
Just the other day, Shane and I were at lunch, and there was a father and his young adult daughter at the table next to us. They were talking about her college classes, and he was talking about some mutual family friends. Their conversation was so easy. You could tell the daughter loved and respected her daddy more than anyone else. It reminded me so much of dates my dad and I used to have. He would take me to our favorite pizza place on his lunch break from work. We would talk and laugh and I would ask for advice about stupid things. He would remind me to fill up my gas tank or get my oil changed. He would tell dumb jokes and then we would give each other a quick hug as he went back to work and I went about my day.
At the meal with Shane, I looked at him and then looked at the father and his daughter and couldn't bring myself to say anything. Shane knew immediately and held his hand out to hold my hand across the table. He asked if I wanted to talk and even though I did, I could not let the words pass over my lips. Once those words come, the tears and the sadness won't stop flowing. It's just easier to keep it inside.
It's been 2 years since my dad's diagnosis. It's been two years of navigating life without him. It's been two years of trying to have a relationship with my mom without my dad being the mediator. It's been two years since I have heard one of his dumb jokes, or called him about a stupid little thing I saw or heard or thought about that day. It's been two long years….
I miss him. And I miss Joshua. And I would just rather not even talk about it. But the pain is there. It's unavoidable. I just wish it would get easier.