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“Climb Every Mountain

Forde every stream! Follow every rainbow, til you find your dream. ” ~The Sound of Music

 

I am a mountain girl. I live at the beach now, but I was born in the elevation and I often hear those stacks of granite calling my name. Earlier this summer I went to the Pacific Northwest and did a lot of exploring in nature. Growin up on the East Coast, our mountains and coastline look drastically different. Our mountains are much older and thus much smaller. Being up high in Hurricane Ridge was terrifying to me. I have a heights issue, weird I know. But the climbing is exhilarating. Terrifying at times, but I think it is more about the effort, the challenge.

I am not a star athlete or anything similar. I have a decent amount of strength and flexibility and I don’t mind walking long distances, so hiking is decent fun to me. If the hill is steep I will take breaks as needed. If there are bugs I will spray my body. If it begins to rain, I will get wet. I think now that my life is so much different, I feel more connected to the earth. I’m doing my best to stay grounded and still explore. I think that’s another reason the mountains call out to me. The provide that grounding and great exploration.

Zack has inspired me. He does a pretty epic job of it regularly, but one thing he’s accomplishing is a pretty big goal. Visit all 50 states by the time he’s 30. And we’re going to his last 3 of the main 48 next week. It is the first time we’re going to travel together beyond a short car ride. I’m excited! Beyond being excited I am using his example to have a life goal. Not accomplished by a specific age, but a life goal. I want to visit all of the National Parks. I was going to say the National Forests, but there’s like 150 of those compared to 60 parks. Of course I’ve been to a few already, but on par with Zack–in order for you to have been to that state you have to eat there–so in order for me to get credit for my National Park, I have to have a picture with the sign. Seems only fair.

It’s weird. I have this epic need to travel and see things. Even if it is just local travel. I’ve been doing my hermit shit since Dad died and I think I’m ready to take on the world. I’m moving forward with my career goals. I’m working on the PhD application process. I applied for an award to see if I can get funding to do some research. If I don’t get the funding I’m still going to write it, but I won’t be able to visit the countries and use the sources. That just makes it harder. But I want to see things. I love the idea of having roots, and being able to bounce around and come back to the familiar. I also always wanted someone to travel with and have experiences with. Seems I may have found one. 🙂

So, next week when we go to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont there will be some hiking in the White Mountains. It is not a national park, but a forest, and the views are apparently epic. So as my part of this journey I want to hike. He’s down for it, so we’re going to do it! And I’m excited to plan other adventures to National Parks across the country! Here’s to adventure!

Climb ev’ry mountain
Search high and low
Follow ev’ry by-way
Every path you know
Climb ev’ry mountain
Ford ev’ry stream
Follow ev’ry rainbow
‘Till you find your dream
A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Everyday of your life
For as long as you live
Climb ev’ry mountain
Ford ev’ry stream
Follow ev’ry rainbow
‘Till you find your dream
Climb ev’ry mountain
Ford ev’ry stream
Follow ev’ry rainbow
‘Till you find your dream
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Life, Yoga

Father’s Day & Things

We made it through Mother’s Day, and even though I didn’t see my mom I made sure she knew she was loved. Tomorrow is my parents anniversary, followed by Father’s Day Sunday. At this moment I’m not sure how I feel. I am so sad for my mom, and I know the only thing I can do is let her know she isn’t alone. She’s taking a trip up to the town where they got married and where they spent the majority of their anniversaries. I know it will be painful for her, but I think it may also bring her some peace.

I have spent the majority of June celebrating my father. I took a trip around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Along this trip I hiked in rain forests, cliff faces down to the ocean, over fallen drift wood, and scaled the sides of mountains. I took with me a vile of my dad’s ashes so that I could have a little piece of him with me and so I could take him to see some cool ass places. This way, he got to see the world with me, ya know? I scattered the first ashes at Ruby Beach. I built little stone markers for each spot, but Ruby Beach there was a distant view of a light house, and the spot where I left him was one where fresh water met the salt. This is the first time I have seen the Pacific Ocean.

I also spread some of his ashes at Rialto Beach. When I was doing that I tried to write his name in the sand but in doing so I stopped watching the ocean, and it came up and got me. My shoes were soaked, which wasn’t super good news, but I had to laugh because I figured it was dad showing me he was there. This is also a beach that looked like where they filmed the Goonies, but that one is farther south (I think that’s what she told me).

Turns out that I still had a fair amount of ashes, so we had to find one more places to leave him. We were already done hiking the Olympic National Forest trails that we had planned on hiking. We ended up back in Seattle and I still had these ashes. So, Rose took us to a beach that was still part of the city. According to the stamp on my photographs it was called Golden Gardens Park. The fun thing about this spot was not only did he end up with a view of the water, he gets to watch boats go by because there is a marina near by. He also gets to watch the trains, because the tracks run along the back of the park. All of those things are, were, things he loved. The crazy way he showed me he was there was after I covered the ashes with sand, I turned to walk back to where my friends were, and lightning struck and thunder bellowed all around. The rain started just moments later. Apparently, it never really thunders in Seattle, or lightnings either. So, the old man made a loud sign to show me he was there. ❤

Dad didn’t have a connection to the Pacific Northwest, and honestly pretty sure he never had been there before ever. But when mom asked me if I wanted to take some ashes, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only did I want him to come, but I want him to go everywhere I go, from now on. One of the parts that hurt the most was not being able to come home and see his face and get a big hug and tell him all about my trip. It was the only way I actually had this experience. Even though there was no bear hug, and no breakfast talk about life (I had one with my mom instead and it was good too). So Sunday, to keep celebrating him I think I will go and roam around in nature, sit by the ocean, and absorb all the grace I can from the world and myself.

This is one of those moments when I think, had I know last Father’s Day would be the last I would have done something better. Shown more love. Been a better daughter. I don’t know what I would have done but it would have been something. My life is different now. I exist in a world where half of my genetics no longer does. I go one each day, and yet he’s not here. Some days are perfectly fine, but this whole month has been hell on my emotions. I know they say it comes in waves, and yes it does seem to do that, but this is one of those big long waves that surfers get a lot of good moves out of before it falls flat. It’s been going to a real long time, and I still have a couple days.

Love your people a little more today than usual, and each day from now add a little more. It makes it worth it.

 

Life

35 Years Ago

Today is my birthday. I was born today in 1983 at 9:27 in the morning. All of my birthdays leading up to this one all had one thing in common. My dad always made sure to send me a special note to tell me how proud of me he was and how much he loved me. Today my heart aches for that letter. Being a mile stone birthday, you know every 5th one is some sort of mile stone, I have no doubt that he would have had something very important to tell me, a memory he had of me or something we did together. But that letter obviously didn’t come. Instead of him calling, all I have are the copies of letters, emails, whatever. I’m wearing his sweatshirt. I’ve been working today and have been under his duck blanket while I work. I laid down for a short nap earlier and slept on a pillow that is now covered in a case my mom made out of one of his old flannel shirts. It even still smells like him. And even though I didn’t get to hug him when I was home over the weekend, I did have a few quiet moments with him, or what is left of him in the urn. And I have been waiting for this moment to happen today. For the sadness to take over and the tears to come. I’m thankful for them, and the memories that I have to cling to while I make it through this first birthday without him. Today All I have are things like this.

 

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Life

Early Morning Reflections

It’s Good Friday 2018. Once upon a time almost 35 years ago I was born on Good Friday, but this year my birthday didn’t match up with the lunar cycles. I will be turning 35 this year. Just a little over a week. I’ve dealt with the 30s pretty well so far. I never got that blues people get when they hit 30. Big deal, right? Just a number. But this year I feel a lot different. This birthday, while a marker that I’m just as close to 40 as I am to 30, this birthday isn’t hard because of the age. This birthday is hard because I won’t get my annual note from my dad. Legit, making me cry just writing that. How has it been almost 6 weeks? How has it been going so quickly? I just need time to slow down for a minute so I can take a breath. I make it through the daily routines fine, but I never actually get the moment to rest and reflect. I never get a chance to feel what it feels like to not have my father anymore. Life just keeps happening, and that is wonderful and I don’t want life to stop, but at the same time I need some rest.

I don’t have the most demanding job in the world, but I’m basically on call 24/7 when it comes to emails and such. I do my best to unplug from it and take time for myself, but it doesn’t happen easily. The only time it happened is when he died and I honestly couldn’t handle dealing with work. I could only handle being with family and loving on everyone.  I honestly don’t know how people do it and just jump back into life once someone dies. Shit, I feel bad because I keep writing about this. I feel like I should be moving on to better subjects like full moon yoga or something else, but here I am, stuck on this topic of death and grief. I’m not stuck on in, I’m more like swimming through it. Songs come on my playlist and I get the lyrics for the first time, even though I’ve listened to it so many times before. It’s so weird how that happens isn’t it? For Example. My friend Marah told me ages ago to download “Pray” by Sam Smith. So I did. It was a powerful song, and I like it but didn’t listen to it that much. Now, I think I listen to it daily because I get it. And it makes me think. “Everyone prays in the end” is one of the lines of the chorus, and I can’t help but wonder as he laid dying was he in his own mind enough to pray at the end? I know that he believed in God, and my mom tried to get him last rights, but I don’t know if he was in his own head enough to actually pray. He had a hard time talking to people because of the delirium that sets in from DKA, I just hope that he made sense to himself and was able to get that last prayer. I’m not a religious person, far more spiritual than religious, but I know from the time I knew he was going to the hospital to the end I fucking prayed. So maybe in the long run, if he couldn’t do it himself, maybe mine helped a little.

Another song that has been speaking to me lately is “Sunshine” By Matisyahu. Part of the chorus is “It’s raining in your mind, so push those clouds aside, forever by my side you’re my golden sunshine.” And I feel like my mind is full of clouds and rain lately. I put on a smile and make it through whatever I have on my plate that day, but I always feel like i’m on the verge of breaking. I sit on my couch alone during the day sometimes and just stare. I am genuinely running out of energy, and I know it will all come back in time. I know I will continue to piece myself back together, but right now everything is too wet and soggy from all that mind rain. I do consider my dad to be my golden sunshine.  And early in the morning when I hear those early morning birds chirp I think of him. I haven’t been to the ocean lately, maybe that is what I need to do. It’s the one place I know I can go and feel his soul. And I am so thankful to be by the ocean at this time in my life. It is saving my life, and feeding me an energy that I had no idea about.

I have so many friends who have lost their fathers over the past couple of years, three of them quite close to me. I can only say that I never wanted to be able to relate on this level with them, but I’m glad I have them to lean on. I try and express where I am mentally to those who haven’t experienced this type of loss, and while they mean well, they say shitty things, not meaning to, and it becomes one of those smile and nod situations. I mean, my own mom can’t even relate to the loss of a parent because both of hers are still alive and healthy in their 90s. I’ve never had to deal with the loss of a grandparent, which usually comes first. I know one day that I will have to deal with that experience, even though I pray it is a decade away (pretty sure my grandma will live forever).

So yeah. As the weeks go on, they say it is supposed to get easier, but I find that I am more compelled to say it doesn’t get easier it just becomes a more distant memory, which then becomes easier to deal with. My dad never got over the loss of his father. Grandpa died when dad was 27, just after I was born. I can only imagine what he had to deal with. Two small kids, his father died, still newly married. He didn’t have that man to ask questions anymore. And what a moment in life to have that taken from you. I can see why he never got over it.

While this is not a time to be mad about things, I am mad about a couple of them. My dad was the oldest of 7 siblings. I have seen and spoken to 4 of those siblings. Have the others contacted me, or my sister? No. I understand that they are going through their own grief, but you’d think that in a time like this they would find it in their hearts to take time and check on me, my sister, and my mom. No, I don’t have a relationship with these people because unlike my dad no one actually ever made an effort to be part of my life (and as elders I find that is their position in life and not mine). Am I bitter about it? Yes. Is this uncommon for his side of the family? No. Did he want me to have a relationship with his family, yes he sure did, and he made it a point to be part of their lives, so what the fuck happened? I guess the rift in our family that has always been there will continue to grow now that he’s gone. I will keep up with some, and it breaks my heart that it came to this. They didn’t even have to call, just fucking email me, facebook messages work too. My mom’s side of the family, the side I grew up knowing, his death has made us all closer. We are far more involved with each other since the funeral and its a fucking beautiful thing. I am so blessed to have such supportive and amazing people to call my family. I guess I just wish that the other half had given me more of a chance. All families have issues. Mine is not any different.

The one thing I will do differently going forward is forgive. The day before dad died I decided to reach out to someone I had a long, very serious hate toward because I decided to finally just be over it and forgive. So I reached out and told him that I forgave him and that I hoped his life was good. I felt so amazing after the fact and I let go of the pain that that grudge caused. It was an amazing day. So, today, despite my disappointment in my paternal family (some not all), I decide to forgive them. They don’t know their apathy has caused me serious pain in a time when I needed their love and support. So for that I forgive them. They also don’t know that I have taken notice in my 35 years on this planet that they have mostly been imaginary and no one taking an interest in the life of their niece/grandchild is entirely their loss, and not mine. It has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them. So, to all my aunts and uncles who didn’t make an effort to communicate at the death of my father, I forgive you. He would have wanted it that way. And he is the only reason I do it. Because he wouldn’t want me to hold a grudge that causes me pain when I can just let it all go.

In closing, I’m making it. I don’t know how, but each day presents its own battles, and each day I fight them to the best of my ability. One day, I hope to be in a much lighter place, but as for now it’s still raining in my mind.

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Those Normal Things

If I am thankful of one thing it is that my dad died right before spring break, so I had week to catch up on all the shit I missed the week before that I wasn’t in the classroom. Did it go smoothly? No. But it went and here I am in the last 48 hours of freedom before I have to pretend everything is okay again. Actually, I don’t know why I feel like that is what I need to do. I don’t have to be okay. I need to keep it together for my own sanity, but in the long run I don’t have to be okay. One day I imagine that I will be fine with him not being around, but this week and last week have been surreal. I keep waiting for it to hit me.

Yes, I avoided doing things this past week. I tried to make sure I left the house daily, but that only worked for the first few days. I bought groceries. I went to Lowes and got some stuff to plant. I’ve been going to the gym daily (but I don’t have to leave the complex to do that) and yesterday I did laundry and cleaned. I’m not just sitting around, but I’m not very driven to go out. I was invited to a birthday party yesterday, but I didn’t go. Zack wanted to take me to a movie, but I didn’t want to go. Why am I keeping myself locked up? Because I can control this area and myself. That’s all. I know I can’t control the world, and that’s not something I try to do anyway, but I needed to get a handle on myself.

Today I go back to the yoga classroom to take my spot as the teacher. I’m afraid to go and do things, but I have to remember to just be my authentic self. I don’t have to be okay for this class. I’m going over to Zack’s buddy’s house tonight, because I promised I would, and I need to get out. Going from zero things in a day to two things where I have to leave is nuts! But Monday I will have to go to work. I will have to talk to people and answer questions (I think this is the reason I don’t go out, because I don’t want to answer questions or tell people how it happened). I have a lot of other things to handle on Monday too. Back to busy organized Deirdre. Besides, I’m putting some things into play for my future. I have a lot of things to work on to make sure they go smoothly. Deadlines approach quickly, thus I have a lot of things to work on. All while still taking time for myself. My birthday is coming very quickly. I have a lot to do.

Honestly, I have nothing real to say. I’m just babbling. I’m ready to feel normal again. Not sure that will ever happen, so I may have to give up that dream, but in the grand scheme of things I would really like to. My dad would want me to go on living and thriving and making a place in this world for myself. He was always so proud of me and thought the path I am on in life to be interesting and unique.

I also want to take a minute and publicly thank Zack for being such a solid rock for me the past two weeks. He dropped everything to go meet a family he had only heard of, in a very awkward time in our lives. He made sure that I was okay constantly. He held my hand and me as I cried. He helped me reason through things I had to handle. He listened as I practiced my eulogy. He bought me ice cream, even when I really didn’t need to eat ice cream. He’s put up with my not wanting to leave the house. I am eternally thankful for him being around. It breaks my heart that he never met my dad, because they would have loved each other. They are quite similar in their love for history and a good debate. Dad was looking forward to meeting Zack over my birthday weekend when we planned to come up and visit for Easter.

I don’t know if you ever get over the heart break of losing a parent. I know my dad suffered with the death of his father daily. I never understood it. I never wanted to understand it, but I do. I can’t see his fucking face anymore. What happens when I can’t hear his voice in my head anymore? I know it is all part of a process. And I know it will be a long process.

I see him everywhere. I hear the birds outside my window chirping to welcome the sun, and I think of him. I hear the ocean waves crashing and think of him. I see people excited to plant seeds and grow plants and I think of him and how much he loved to play in the dirt (when it didn’t hurt him too bad). Right now there is a single ray of sunshine breaking through the blinds. It is illuminating a single purple flower in a bouquet of flowers some friends of his sent to the funeral. I see him in that ray of sunshine and that purple flower. And then my eyes well with tears and I am happy and sad all at the same time. I know I have the strength to keep going, but somedays it seems almost impossible. I know it isn’t, and that is why I still make sure to do things daily (even if I don’t think I’m ready to do them) jut so that maybe by chance I can feel normal and do those normal things.

Must get ready for yoga. Have a lovely weekend everyone.

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The times we had

I’ve been surrounded by people that love me for the past day and a couple hours. I lost my father late on Wednesday night. My daddy. And this is the first time I have been alone (everyone else is sleeping) since the moment he passed. My stomach hurts. I never knew I had this many tears, and this is the most surreal moment in my entire life. Yesterday, sitting around at my parents house he wasn’t there. He wasn’t just late to show up to hang out with all of us. He isn’t coming back. I am devastated in knowing this. When people die suddenly you’re stuck with that long list of things like I wish I would have called more. I wish I had gotten to speak to him one last time. I wish this or that and the other. And yes, I wish I had been the last person to talk to him on the phone. His brother Jim gets that honor. The last thing I talked to him about what financial stuff and how I had gotten my taxes filed. He asked me if I was getting any money back. That was our last conversation.

On Valentine’s Day he texted me to tell me he loved me so much and wish me a happy day. The weekend before I had some questions about adult things (money shit) and I called him to ask him because I swear to God he knew everything. Especially when it came to finances. My eyes always glazed over with that shit but I knew I could always talk to him about something I didn’t understand and he could break it down for me. I can hear his voice in my head as I type this. He never said he was going to shower, he always said he was going to get cleaned up. He would always call me “honey bunch.” And he always worried that he hadn’t been there enough for me when I was a kid. He worked hard to support us and create a life that he thought we deserved, and he was a success. I never felt unloved a day in my life. I never didn’t know that my dad didn’t love me. He ALWAYS told me. And if I had been gone, living in New York or Wilmington, and I would come visit he would hug me so tight. Fuck, he gave the best hugs and I would kill for one. Just one more. One more night sitting on the couch watching tv and answering Jeopardy questions together. Or just talking about politics and other bullshit.

My dad and I had so many fun times, just the two of us. A trip to Maryland to go to the wooden boat show. We met up with some uncles and cousins upon arrival, but the trip itself was awesome. That was the first time I think we got to know each other. Later on many moons later we took another road trip to NYC to take me back after having my tonsils removed. He drove during the day, because he couldn’t see in the dark, and at that point it was my responsibility. We listened to the Allman Brothers and he was shocked that I liked them. We talked about everything in those trips. Dreams. What we thought life was supposed to be and what we aimed to do. He was so proud of me for going to NYU, continuing his fathers legacy. His father, I never knew, but he is my Godfather. He died shortly after I was born. And I never understood how hard that was for my dad to deal with, until now.

The one thing that my father always made sure of is that his girls never went without. He had a shit load of health problems. Some stem from his life time of diabetes and complications from that. Others happened along the way. His body wasn’t as strong as it used to be. It wasn’t firing the way it should. But despite breaking his ankle or his arm he still made sure that everything was handled. Yesterday, sitting on the desk in the kitchen I saw a letter penned in his hand and it was everything. Everything in that letter was what my mom should do and needed to do in order to make things go smoothly after he died. He wrote it 4 years ago. He knew this day was coming, and honestly we all did, because of his health issues, however, we always hoped he would beat the odds and stay a little longer.

I am lucky that I didn’t lose him 24 years ago when I was a child. He went into renal failure then, and ended up getting a kidney transplant from his brother Arthur. Arthur, always been my uncle and will forever remain as such, gave me my dad for 24 more years. Because of his selfless act he prolonged the life of a dying man. And that kidney was fucking amazing. It never faltered. Never once. And I am eternally thankful for my uncle. I always loved how when Art would call dad would answer the phone Hello, Governor. And Art would always reply, Hello Doctor. I always thought it was the funniest thing. When Arthur called me last night, hearing his voice was so refreshing and it brought me back to earth for a minute. I know he is devastated after losing his brother, but I also know that he knows the pain of losing his father. And because of that, my soul is humbled.

I worry the most about my mom. I know she is a strong woman, but I worry about her. He never let her go without. Be it having a cup of water waiting for her with dinner when she got home from a long day or making sure the house was cleaned, even though he could never achieve her standard of clean–hell, none of us can. So, if you could find it in your heart to keep her in the light over the next few months as she finds her footing in this new era in life, I would appreciate it.

I know I am lucky. I am lucky because my dad told me every fucking day that he loved me and that he was proud of me. Not everyone can say that and my heart breaks for them. He was more than a father, he was a provider, my #1 cheerleader, my voice of reason, my financial adviser (even though I epically suck at this shit), my rock, my dad, my daddy. There was one day when I got scared when I was probably 5 years old. We went to the hardware store in N. Wilkesboro and something, God only knows what, scared me and I started crying. He lifted me up onto his shoulder and rocked me. He told that everything would be okay and that I should just let it all out. He never got upset. He always had a calming voice. He also held me on that same shoulder at my great grandmother’s funeral. I was so high up (also 5 years old) and I looked back on the people at that funeral celebrating her, and I felt so safe, so content because he wasn’t going to let me hurt.

Daddy, I look forward to the day when our energies are together again, somewhere out there in the ether. I will continue pushing myself toward bigger and better things and continue to make your proud. I will look after mom, Ginny, and Heather. I will make sure they know they are loved, just like you would have wanted. You are the best thing that ever happened to me in this life and I will love you until my last breath fades. I know you’re with me, hovering just beyond this realm where I can’t see you. But I feel you. I feel that big bear hug wrapping me up as tears stream down my face. I will forever be your honey bunch, your baby girl, and you will forever be my daddy.