“For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it? How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time.” C.S. Lewis
I have found in the last four-and-a-half months since my father passed away that more often than not, I'm really doing okay. I can make it through 95% of my days without crying, and I can go days without a thought about my dad. Honestly, I hadn't seen him for a year-and-a-half before he passed away, and I wasn't ever very close to him. Our relationship was very strained for much of my life.
I thought, as I was on my way to Florida to say my goodbyes to my dad, about how my life wouldn't look much different after he passed away because I'd hardly had a decent conversation with him or seen him for over a year. I come back to that thought constantly. Most of the time I think I was trying to rationalize what I was going through at that time, but sometimes that thought comes back to me and it doesn't seem very far off.
Then there are those moments when I realize that my dad should have been there for Christmas, or I remember that my dads birthday is coming on March 3rd, and I become completely undone at the thought of him not turning a year older. When it comes to milestones in my life, holidays, and birthdays...those times are the hardest.
Death is so final. The difference between having a dad that became increasingly more distant, and losing him all together, is that there's never a possibility of him coming back around. When those holidays and milestones come, it's like ripping the band-aid off again, and I'm caught off guard by my tears.
It happened today. My dad has been on my mind quite a bit the last few days -- probably the most since a few weeks after he passed away. Yesterday, while I was cleaning a drawer out in my nightstand, I found an envelope with my dads handwriting from when he mailed me the title for my old car. I sat there and stared at it for a little while, studying the familiar scribbly handwriting. I didn't cry, but I knew that I was affected by it. Last night, after a physically draining day of cleaning and house projects, I could barely keep my eyes opened at 7:30 pm. I went to bed super early, and woke up this morning feeling like I was completely in a funk. I couldn't get my dad out of my thoughts all day long. It wasn't until I got home from work and was talking to my roommate that the floodgates opened. I was surprised by my tears.
“You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you’ve never seen before. A pair of somebody’s old shoes can do it…. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.” Frederick Buechner
Even though this season of grieving my father is painful, I am grateful for the tears. They help me understand where I am in the process of grief, but more importantly, they help me understand my need for my savior.