Tag Archives: death

All these terrible anniversaries

I knew to dread Christmas. Because obviously, Mom and my first Christmas without Dad would be hard. My body created a buffer of sorts: I was sick in bed with bronchitis for three days beginning Christmas Eve, leaving Mom to fend for herself. I was so ill I couldn’t even feel guilty until later.

Christmas circa 1978 20150909_203232

I anticipated that the month of February would be painful between Valentine’s Day and Mom’s birthday. Dad was a romantic who enjoyed planning surprises for his wife and took pride in his gift giving.

I had no idea how painful my birthday would be. The first October 16 without Dad in this world, how it hurt. I was heartbroken all over again. Continue reading

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Doing the hard things

It’s really hard to hate a tree.

Woods

I know because I tried. But as I stood in front of the beautiful cherry tree my father used to climb to hunt deer and otherwise be among nature, I couldn’t find it in my heart to hold a grudge.

Instead I stood there with my mother, aunt, uncle, and four close family friends, imagining that Dad was there with us. I breathed fresh country air and visualized the pre-dawn mornings Dad had spent in a tree stand on our friend Ivan’s property, waiting for a mature buck to appear.


Although Dad died from complications Pulmonary Hypertension, a hunting accident he suffered back in 2007 exacerbated his health problems for the next eight years.

Continue reading

Things I learned while grieving

Tomorrow will mark one month since my dear, sweet, wonderful Dad died. I’m doing OK, but it still sucks. I still cry. I still feel sad and awful and shocked that the world keeps turning without Dad present.

But I am also starting to manage to not cry every time I see a pic of Dad or think of him. Weirdly, I feel a teensy bit guilty for not grieving 24/7. That’s normal and OK too. Grief is weird and non-linear and unpredictable.

flowers Having survived this summer myself, I’m feeling kind of expert-y about grief (not really) and though I’d share a few things I learned in the process. If you have anything you’d add, please share in the comments.

Continue reading

My IQ has dropped by 20 points. Maybe 30.

If one of you made me a shirt that said “MY DAD DIED AND I AM A MESS” please know that I would wear it. Perhaps daily.

Such a shirt would save me from having to say those horrible-but-true words aloud, and let people know why my brain is really not working like it normally does.

Via Polyvore and Marc by Marc Jacobs

Perhaps this shirt would work just as well.

I’m serious though. During my sweet Dad’s last days and now, I have been making crazy errors, like booking a flight for the wrong day (by two whole weeks!). And I need to read things, like, four times to get the point.

Is this normal? Will I ever bounce back?


I promise that someday my blog won’t be exclusively about grief and death and sad things. But right now these are pretty much the only thoughts in my head and I really need to share them with anyone willing to listen. Thank you for your patience.

My first post about Life After Dad

My worst fears came true: my sweet, kind gentleman of a Dad died on Friday, July 17.

I have so many thoughts and feelings on this sad time, but need a little time to pull myself together and get my life back in order. Dad spent most of the last five weeks of his life in a Philadelphia hospital so much of my non-family life has been on hold. And I wouldn’t change a thing (except, of course, if I could strike a deal to have Dad back and healthy).

Dad dimples

For the time being, here’s a pic of my father that I love, as well as the text of the eulogy I gave for him at his funeral today. Continue reading

This part of adulthood is The Worst

This post was originally entitled “I am nothing but feelings.” You’ll see.Dad dimplesThe phone rang at 10:46 AM on November 17. It was a Monday so I was at work when my parents’ home number flashed on my cell phone, making my heart jump to my throat.

“Hello?” I answered, feeling tense.

It wasn’t Mom, calling to tell me she was taking Dad to the hospital. It was Dad, sounding fine.

I willed myself to breathe again.

Dad said he felt bad for not calling more. He just called to chat.

For years, Dad didn’t know my phone number – seriously – and it drove my mother nuts. She gave him grief about it constantly, writing the number on notepads in the house and entering it into his seldom-used and seldom-seen cell phone. But I always told him the same thing: I know how much you love me.

Still, it’s a surprise when Dad calls. A great surprise. I drop everything for him.

We talked about The Voice, which he absolutely loves. The bromance between Adam and Blake cracks him up. But he has a new favorite now.

Via JustJared and NBC

Dad asked about my cold and told me that he’s feeling good. The last three years have taught me not to take that for granted. Tomorrow is not assured.


Holidays are different now. On Thanksgiving night, I cried in my childhood bedroom thinking ahead to the day when I will no longer have a dad.

I used to save projects for Dad. A necklace that needs fixing. A shelf to be mounted on my apartment wall. He was my own personal McGyver. No challenge was too great for Dad.

But now, Dad is often physically vulnerable. I don’t ask him to do things for me now because I know it would break his heart to say “I can’t. I’m so sorry, Jen.”

My father seems to be fading like an old Polaroid. Sometimes I think about asking if he’s scared. And by scared, I mean about dying. But that’s a door I can’t open. Even thinking and typing the word feels like a betrayal.


Dad spent six days in a hospital two hours’ drive from home last week. His condition, pulmonary hypertension, is very difficult to manage. He has an excellent specialist who does everything you’d want a doctor to do, from calling the house to check in between appointments to visiting my father in the hospital, even though he’s out on vacation.

But getting Dad back on course takes time and tries his patience. He hates the hospital food, and the hospital twin bed and worst of all, the hospital TV that doesn’t offer a guide or menu. Fortunately he loves the nurses (and they love him).

I call a few times each day, trying to encourage and distract him.

“At least The Voice is on tonight, Dad.”

“You’re right, Jen. I can’t wait. It’s good to have something to look forward to.”

“I love you, Dad. So much.”

And then I hang up and cry. I can’t let Dad know how scared I am.


December 18 update: Dad was just diagnosed with shingles. 

For the final update, click here.

In Dreams

She comes to me in dreams sometimes.

Aunt Mar is in the kitchen of her old apartment of Parsippany. She greets me cheerfully, casually, as if only a few weeks without seeing each other have passed. If she’s at all surprised to see me, it doesn’t show.

Aunt Mar is making eggplant parmesan. Without looking, I know there’s one portion made with chicken already in the oven because she knows I don’t like eggplant. It is always made clear to me that I am her favorite, just as she is mine.

I am overjoyed to see her, but also confused. Hurt. Angry. Why had she had left me? I was only sixteen. I needed her so badly.

I want to scream “you died! How are you here?” But would speaking the words aloud pierce the veil and make my happy dream evaporate? I am afraid.

What do you think of me? Of this person I’ve become?

Do you still love me? I hope I haven’t let you down. 

Where did you go? Please don’t leave again. I still need you.

I’ll be OK. I just love you so much.

I say nothing. I let her hold me in her arms like the child I used to be.

She comes to me in dreams sometimes. Just not nearly as often as I wish.

Aunt Mar and Jen