Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reliving Loss

It is 2:00 in the morning and once more I can't sleep.  Without sounding too much like Oprah, one thing I know for sure is that once you lose someone significant in your life, every new loss reopens old wounds of grief.  I realize that my family is not unique in grieving.   Everyone experiences loss.  It is one of the few things that you can take to the bank.  No one is immune from it.  Some of us may have had more experience than others, but we will all suffer from grief. 

Losing my sister when I was 18 was one of the first major events that shaped the person I was to become.  My parents had divorced a few years before her death and I had never really dealt with the feelings that their divorce left me with. Karen's death left me feeling that no one that I loved was going to be steadfast in my life. I spent most of my young adulthood either trying in all the wrong ways to find rock solid love or doing everything I could to run from it.  It would take me well into my 20's to deal with my fear of being left behind and on my own.

My mom and I had a very close relationship.  In hindsight she probably let me get away with way too much, but she taught me so much about being a strong, independent woman.  She taught me about faith and loyalty and to really care about others.  She was so special to me.  She died unexpectedly in 1999 and her death truly rocked my world like nothing else had.  To make matters worse, my beloved aunt Mary Ann died on the same day.  Mom died early in the morning and my aunt later in the afternoon.  I adored my aunt and her passing, while expected since she was in the final stages of lung cancer, was so devastating.  The next few days were a blur as I dealt with arrangements for my mom in Nashville, visitation for my aunt and funeral in Bowling Green and a burial service for my mom's ashes in BG.  It was a whrilwind and frankly I don't have a lot of memory of those couple of days.  I do know that losing my mom left a hole in my heart right next to the one already there from losing my sister.

My dad and I had a lot of friction in our relationship.  My dad had very defined ideas about how I should live my life and when I didn't follow that path, it was hard for him.  I know he never really forgave me for not finishing college.  I know he disapproved of the party girl lifestyle of my youth.  I know he was sorry that I did not choose to stay in Bowling Green.  I spent a good deal of my life just trying to live up to my dad's expectations and feeling like I always fell short.  Although I know he didn't always approve of my decisions or actions, he always loved me and I never doubted that love.  I know that he was proud of me, of the life I made for myself, for the career path I chose. When he became sick and I knew our time together was short, I never felt that there was anything unsaid between us.  I'm glad of that because it made the time we had left so pure and full of love. 

My heart has broken yet again, and behind the cracks that his passing has caused are the newly opened cracks left by loved ones that have gone on before. Because I have suffered great loss before, I know that I will survive this one, too.  I know that at some point the feeling of emptiness will be replaced with fond memories that bring comfort.  I know that life goes on regardless of how I feel my world has stopped turning for a bit.  I know that sooner or later, the grief fog will lift and things will gradually get back to how they were before my dad died.  Right now, however I can't sleep for reliving the losses of my past along with the newly added loss of my daddy.  I miss him so much. 

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