It was weird going through holidays for the first year after my dad passed away. Even though I wasn't living near him at the time, there were still the holiday wishes, traditions... and, of course, his mere presence. I thought the more meaningful holidays would be more difficult. We cried, we laughed, we made new traditions, I cried some more. But we got through.
Last New Years Eve was the worst for me. I hadn't given it much thought since it really isn't a family-type holiday, etc. It may sound odd, but this hit me really hard -- I was leaving the last year my dad saw and was moving into a new year - without him. A new year that he will never see...2015.
I cannot begin to explain the feelings that I had at that time. I dreaded that day and as much as I was trying to be excited for change and a new, fresh year... I felt an emptiness all the way to the core of my being. He is gone.
I wrote many times previously about coincidences and how I do not believe in them. And how those moments exist when you realize God is etching a memory in your mind that will not soon fade. Its a memory that supersedes all other memories, encumbering all of the senses. Almost as if you are watching your life on a movie screen, these moments freeze in the form of a snapshot before falling off the screen and continuing with the movie. God knows how important they are...
... But do we? Do we know how to pick up on them? Do we pay attention when they happen? I know I can remember many times over the last several years when this occurred. And it blows my mind when I look back and put imaginary dots on each etched memory and connect them -- all leading up to the current situation. A DIVINE map.
For example, when I visited Pittsburgh for the first time, I distinctly remember feeling that I was going to be living there. I was taking in every view, every street, every smell, every sound. Every tiny feeling. And then, like snapshots in my brain, I would even think to myself - "wow, I am really taking this all in." I acknowledged what was happening, even if I didn't fully understand why. <snapshot>
Or the sentence I wrote in the Father's Day card I sent my dad that last year... Father's day was the Sunday before his heart attack. I wrote the words, "I cant imagine not having you in my life." The moment I wrote those words, I got the strangest feeling... I remember the whole effect as if it just happened. At the time, however, I dismissed it as me getting a bit emotional thinking about losing him someday, wayyyy down the road. I didn't catch the hint from the big guy upstairs that Id be losing him in a couple of days and to make sure that I make the most of that time. No, I didn't. Boy, do I wish I had. <Another snapshot.>
On a side not, do you know that I still cant write those words to the people who mean so much to me? In my head, its as if "I cant imagine not having you in my life" is some sort of omen or something. A cursed statement. Realistically I know that its not true. But it was real and traumatic enough for me to know that it will probably be a long time before I do.
Another instance I remember is driving on a side road heading to work with my partner. I remember telling her how I had never lost anyone really close to me until I lost a co-worker. (I was referring not to losing someone you love that you don't speak to or see often but to someone you are used to seeing daily and will never see again.) I remember exactly where I was at in that moment and how I felt. I remember sharing how the co-worker's wife told me he had a massive heart attack and didn't make it. She then proceeded to tell me that in the weeks leading up to his death, he had organized his important papers, life insurance, updated the will, etc. Her words? "It was almost as if he knew it was coming." <Yet...Another snapshot.>
While still living in Pittsburgh and preparing for our move to Florida, my parents were a great deal of help. Securing a place was the final thing that needed to be done before we could head south. Due to website issues, we had to physically take a deposit to the leasing office... My dad (and mom) took care of this the morning before his heart gave out. Everything was secure. My mom would be safe and looked out for. And my last conversation with my dad was about us having the green light to come on down. <You guessed it... snapshot.>
He wouldn't have had it any other way.
2015 turned out to be a pretty good year... but that doesn't mean I miss my father any less. I know he is with us... sometimes smiling, sometimes laughing, and sometimes just shaking his head.
As we move on through the holidays again... Let this be a reminder to you that we never really know when our time is up or the time of those we hold so close to our hearts. But when those Polaroid shots appear in your mind and you are suddenly aware its happening. Stop, acknowledge it and give thanks to God. It is all a part of your journey... wherever it leads. What picture will your dots connect to make?
I love you all.