“Nobody said it was easy, it's such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard; oh take me back to the start.” ~ Coldplay
And September 3rd always wakes me up at the exact time my mom came rushing in to tell me he was gone - 3:52am. Her sobbing tears echo in my ear; my heavy footsteps down the hall to his body flash in my mind; his lifeless body as I weep to my knees at his bedside are always so vivid on that day. But then I’m hit with his sweet smile and the glimmer in his eye when he’d genuinely smile or laugh; or his great big hugs; watching him iron his work shirts and tie his work tie in the living room mirror in the morning, or put his Aramis cologne on. The memory of them pulling a white sheet over his body before they rolled him out of the house after 6am; summer camping trips as he’d teach me and my siblings how to pitch a tent, sitting by the campfire listening to him talk about and point to the constellations; later that day in the mortuary standing as close as I possibly could to him; stroking his face; studying his expression; and not wanting to leave his side. I couldn’t leave! Don’t make me leave you dad! Dad, please don’t leave me!!! Please - is all I could scream in my mind. His barefoot walks to the school bus stop as a kid; tickle monster wrestling in his lap paired with him pushing me on our front yard blue rope and wood plank swing that hung from a great and grand ficus tree. The morning after his passing a crying into a bowl of Cheerios as the pain of his death still stabbed hard; mornings with my dad as we’d sit on the front porch and chat over our morning coffee. It’s really like that - a constant juxtaposition of memories whirling through my mind on that day. I’m willing to admit this time of year always gets me feeling a little like Eeyore in the Hundred Acre Woods, gray cloud and all.
While I miss my father terribly, and while losing him in my 20’s was a traumatic and defining moment, I will say I’ve definitely learned a lot from this kind of pain and grief, in the way it’s shaped me. For one, most people (without realizing it) are inept to their emotional intelligence and are absolute buffoons when empathy is needed. While it pains me to admit it, the worst cases of compassion and empathy I received was from my Sunday church folks - and this is coming from a Catholic girl. It’s always fascinating and infuriating to me how so many of the people you’d expect to be the most empathetic are so often deprived of these skills. Do yourself a favor and don’t say any of the following “it’s part of God’s plan” “everything happens for a reason” “I guess it was his time to go” “it’s been a while, aren’t you over it yet?” “he’s in a better place.”And for the love of God, when someone walks in who just lost someone, don’t all unanimously go silent. Rather, do say “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” “I wish I knew what to say to comfort you” “can I give you a hug?” “I’m here for you.” And just show up. Don’t ask, just show up.