We are approaching another milestone in the first year following my husband’s death in July. My daughter graduates from High School tomorrow, then it’s Father’s Day, then the anniversary of his sudden heart attack in July.
Navigating the emotional minefields has not been easy. After my father died when I was nine, he became a topic that was officially off limits, unless you wanted to hear my mother say, “stop feeling sorry for yourself, ” or ask, “can we please talk about something else?”
He was not discussed, as a general rule. In the same way, a curfew or saying please and thank you, would be nonnegotiable. It simply was not done.
Recently, my younger daughter asked me, “so, how do you know your father was such a great guy?”
One night when I was in college, my mother and I had a few drinks, we didn’t do this often, as we weren’t friends, and I didn’t voluntarily spend much time with her then, but she told me, “your father was a bastard,” and I remember thinking, here it comes; the lies, the cheating, the marital discord, but instead she said, “he would bring people home after work and make chili.”
I asked her, “The worse thing he ever did was make chili?”
Yes. Chili. This was an offense because mother had already prepared dinner, and she was not in the mood for company. To be so blessed with mundane difficulties, and to remember them some twenty years later, under the influence of alcohol, no less.
For my own children, keeping the door open to talk, and allowing them to feel both the sorrow and the joy of these fleeting days, has been paramount in my mind.
It’s even possible, it is the most difficult thing to do, as it requires perfect tenderness and precision.
When I graduated from high school my Uncle Basil and Auntie Deb were there. I remember it as a day void of joy, sadly, even though I loved and appreciated them both coming.
Basil died when he was forty two, of a brain tumor. I was in my mid-twenties and it left me with the feeling that everything I love dies. It took the birth of my children and ten years with my husband to get over this feeling, and now I am here once more.
I’m working on understanding that everything works together for our good, but sometimes, even though I know it to be true, it’s hard to believe.
Love and blessings to all.