Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Biggest Heartache of All

For those of you who don't know, my dad passed away in August. His passing left me totally alone in this world. I'm not married, have no children, and no connections to extended family. Needless to say, it's been a difficult transition from beloved daughter to... whatever I am now in this world.

I've had my ups and downs since he passed, but to be honest, this month has been the absolute hardest. Last year, my dad was well enough to visit me three times in the month of November: once for my birthday, once for Tanners Marketplace, and again for Thanksgiving. I can remember him saying "You are going to be so sick of me by month's end." I laughed and said no way - but inside I thought "I want you here as often as you can make it, because I know that very soon you won't be able to."

My dad's goal was to live to 80, but in June when I visited for Father's Day he told me he wasn't going to make it to April of 2016. I said he'd better... but when I laughed I had tears in my eyes, because I knew his health was failing quickly.

He kept losing his hair, and his face was becoming more and more gaunt. He had become very very thin in the months leading up to June, but after June, he started gaining water weight. And I remembered from my mom's own battle with COPD that water weight gain was not a good thing.

My dad was probably always my biggest fan, but it wasn't until my mom died that he became my best friend. We talked on the phone almost every night that first year after her death - and then it kind of morphed into every other night. Sometimes if I had some particularly good news (or - blech - bad news), I wouldn't wait the second night to call - I'd simply pick up the phone and call.

He always answered.

That first month after his passing I would find myself thinking "I have to call Dad," and almost as soon as the thought flittered through my head, I would realize he was gone.

This month, though, the pain of his loss is so much stronger and feels more real. Maybe that's simply because it's time to make the hard decisions: sell the house, sell the vehicles, arrange for an estate sale. But - if you're the type that believes this - I think part of the reason the pain is so strong this month is because the veil is thin.

I can remember so clearly what my November last year was like - preparing for his three visits, and buying the food he liked and getting excited to spend more time with him. I can remember our trips to do our favorite things - from going to our favorite restaurants in Reno, to shopping at Junkee and Assistance League, to simply just sitting at the table playing Milles Borne or watching a movie from Redbox.

This November just feels so empty. I am so thankful for friends - for Denise, who arranged a birthday get-together. For Benita, who is making sure I have someone to spend Thanksgiving with. To my friend Jodi, who has checked up on me several times.

Then there have been a few surprises from people I don't even know well - a girl at work wanted to be sure I had something to do on Thanksgiving, and one of the managers - with whom I share a birthday - went out the other day to get me a Monster cookie from Homage - one of my all-time favorite bakeries in Reno - as a belated birthday gift.

The emotional ups and downs are tremendous - the downs really hit me hard and sometimes just come out of nowhere. I have started to cry in parking lots, or on my way to work. I don't even always know what triggers it - it just happens.

The ups give me hope. I just really want to learn how to focus on moving forward. That's the challenge I'm facing right now - and one I keep failing at.