Saturday, 17 September 2016

Grief and learning to say Goodbye...again


I have been absent since January...and what a difficult 9 months it has been.  My father fell ill shortly after my last post and life quickly became overwhelming.

In February the doctors told Dad this would be his last birthday.  Then they retracted the prognosis. Little did any of us know that we were embarking on a hellish roller coaster ride, and its end would prove more painful and horrible than the ride itself.

My father approached dying as he approached life...with calm dignity.  He took this last leg of his life journey to teach us the lessons we would need to take us through the rest of our lives without him there to guide us.

He wasn't a saint - he was human.  At times he got frustrated and impatient.  So did we.  But as we had throughout our lifetime together, we always came back to one another with apologies where appropriate, unconditional love unscathed, and a stronger determination to make things better.

I was always so afraid of my parents dying.  I think we all are.  It is such a scary prospect to lose your parents, especially when you share a loving and close relationship.  I lost my mother slowly, over a period of 14 years, to Alzheimer's Disease.  The loss was more pronounced in the early years, when she was still alive in body but was being robbed of her memory and cognitive ability.  So when she died, it was painful, but also a relief - her many years of suffering were finally over.

Losing my father was different.  It was more sudden, there was little time to come to terms with his condition and our fate.  He succumbed to cardiac amyloid - a form of blood cancer that deposits plaque into the organs (in his case, his heart) causing them to stop functioning.  He died a relatively painless death, and I thank G-d for that.  But the doctors gave us a time frame of 3 to 6 months.  And though I know it was only an estimate, for some reason I held on tightly to that time line, like it was my lifeline rather than his.  And when he died 5 weeks following his prognosis, all I could think was "there's been a mistake!! We still have 5 months!!".  But there was no mistake.  His heart simply stopped on the morning of May 6th, 2016, and he was gone.  Just like that, I had lost my father...my boss...my mentor...my friend.

True to his character, he taught by example, and I learned by osmosis.  The life lessons just sunk in over time.  To his dying day, with his heart weakened, and his body fighting to quit, he persevered, refusing a wheelchair and insisting on using a walker...pressing on each day to build up his strength. Only now, some 19 weeks after his passing, can I write about it, and share this profound loss with you.   Only now, some 19 weeks later, am I finally able to pull myself from the depths of grief to which I unwillingly plummeted.  Only now am I able to begin to say goodbye and begin to pull myself out from under the fog and haze of grief that has weighed me down for 133 long days...

Throughout my lifetime, Dad would remind me that the sun will rise again.  That the darkness will fade and light will shine through.  He would encourage me, telling me that we all encounter difficult and challenging periods - angst, heartbreak, worries, health challenges...but you have to persevere, to get on with it.  He was right...and I have.  It doesn't get better...but you get better at it.

So, as I begin to move forward I can feel the healing process taking hold.  I am baking, cooking and preserving sauces and vegetables for the winter, and feeling the urge to blog new recipes, share new stories.

But before I resume my regular posts, I want to invite you to visit the blog I started as a tribute to him: "My Father's Treasure", which will document some of his talents and passions, including his photography and sketches.  My His Memory Be For a Blessing...I know it is for me