Between 2011 and 2014 I experienced losses that there was no way I could have ever braced or prepared myself for. They also shook who I was and my belief systems down to the core. I’d always felt very strongly that everything happened for a reason, and that sometimes it would take a long time for that reason to appear, but it would show itself to you and you’d look back and be able to say “yep, that hardship was worth it”.
Well, I can tell you right now that is bullshit. Maybe it works for some things, as it did for me for a long time, however I can tell you when the nurse came in and told us they didn’t expect my Dad to last the day (when that morning they had told us we should still hold out hope and they were confident he’d make it through) I got angry at the world. I got even angrier when I was told I wouldn’t be able to have children. I’d held my dad’s hand while he was in the hospital and he told me he prayed every day for me to have the a baby. SO much grief and so much loss in a small period of time. I felt everything I had just assumed would be in or part of my life was getting ripped from me.
I also remember feeling so much pressure. Pressure to get pregnant and have a baby and provide my dad with his first grandchild before he passed (which didn’t happen and still breaks my heart to this day), pressure to be in California each time he was in the hospital because we never knew what would happen and how fast. Should I quit my job and move in with my parents to spend that final time with him? I honestly still question that decision to this day. Being away from him, not being able to share those last months making memories. Everything went so fast; he was diagnosed with cancer in November and passed away in April. Far from enough time to even know what to do and how to process. How do you be logical while you are grieving? Is being logical even important? Am I going to regret whatever choice I make for the rest of my life? I can’t tell you amount of times I would RACE to the airport, sobbing at the ticket counter while shelling out whatever amount of money I needed to to get home just in case this was it, and the indescribable fear I had when I turned my phone back on when I landed that he passed away while I was in the air. It’s traumatic and gives me heaps of anxiety just thinking back.
I’d told myself he would make it through; he’d been sick so many times with all of these rare diseases and pushed through with a smile on his face. He’d been wheelchair bound and learned to walk again, he had a doctor botch his sinus surgery and damage his brain. His body attacked his nerves to the point where he would scream in pain and no amount of medication would provide relief. He actually walked me down the aisle after just having a picc line inserted (a catheter that goes into your vein in your arm and all the way into your heart to deliver medication). Looking back at all of the pictures you would never know. Every day was started with a joke and a smile and he would always remind you that God is good. He wasn’t angry, he was grateful, which blew my mind. All of these things were caused by his exposure to radiation from all of the years he spent working for the defense department. They deny it all, but we all know the truth. All of his pains and struggles and the fact he’s still not here now was all preventable. His body continued to attack itself over and over, and the government denies it all. My anger around that will be it’s own post one day- I promise you that.
After my dad passed I continued my journey into trying to become a mother. The pressure got even harder, not only because I wanted so badly to be a parent, but I knew that being able to tell my mother that she was going to be a grandparent would light a spark in her that she lost when my Dad died. I kept sunglasses at my desk, because every call I’d get about a test, or an egg retrieval, or one of the million other things that always failed would lead to tears. Since no one at my office knew what was going on, I’d have to hold all the emotions back and put my sunglasses on so that no one would stop and ask what was wrong as I walked as quickly out to the car as I could to sob. I’ve sat in the back corner of a conference room with the lights off just ugly crying more than I care to remember. I felt like shit about myself since I was pumping myself full of so many hormones so was bloated and emotional. While still grieving the loss of my father I had to also start embracing and grieving the fact that my lifelong dream of parenthood may never happen.
I still have this extreme anxiety and fear around loss. It’s like a blindfold was dramatically ripped off my eyes and I know now that “those things don’t just happen to other people” and that everything happens for a reason” is a complete crock. Life is a complete and total asshole sometimes and that is just how it is. It doesn’t say, “oh, that person just had a hardship, let’s have give them something nice” and it sure as shit doesn’t dole out out horrible experiences evenly across the population. I still freak out when my husband doesn’t answer the phone, automatically assuming he’s dead in a ditch somewhere, and if Thea even steps one foot into the street I lose my mind just knowing she’s going to get hit by a car. That safe feeling I used to have is gone and I don’t think it’s coming back. Can I use these losses to help me have a better perspective on life and as a reminder that I should live each day to it’s fullest? Yes, but I could also have done that without the experience. I’d rather have had some therapy and read some self help books to get me to that point.
Dad I miss you. I wish you were still here; there’s so much more I could have learned from you about life and how to live it. About perspective and how to keep it positive. About how to embrace challenges and not get angry at the world. And I still dream of you playing with Thea Hansley. You would have been the greatest Papa, and please know we talk about you all the time. She knows who you are and she knows she is so loved by a special person who is up in heaven, and she loves to send you her balloons. Please also know that I kept my promise and that I named her after you. Hansley is oh so special and I burst with pride (and into tears) as I filled it into her birth certificate form. You are here in my heart and mind, but I wish you were actually here here.