I feel like most of my posts of late have started the same way:
Hello, readers, it’s been a while. So much has happened since I last wrote.
I’ve seriously started about 17 posts in my head. But by the time I got home, I forgot half of them. The other half? Well … they didn’t feel “right.” So, let me start by saying this:
On Oct. 21 — four days after the anniversary of Penelope Joy’s death — my dad left to join his darling granddaughter. We knew he was going to die. And we knew it was coming soon. But, that doesn’t make it any easier. In some ways, it makes it harder — we’ve been saying goodbye for a long time. In some ways, it makes it easier — because we got to say our goodbyes.
Living the rest of my life without my dad present … well … it makes my heart heavy. He was my roots — along with Mom, of course. But, in a way, he was my wings, too. Always there for an encouraging word: “Be yourself. Ain’t no other way to be.” Always there for a hug – boy did he give
good great hugs. He was also pretty good about calling all of us on our crap — and making sure we all laughed while he did it.
And I miss him. Every single minute. And I wish he were still here. But not just for me.
Let me tell you: losing a parent when you’re pregnant is pretty awful. Because I’m not only mourning for me or for right now. I’m mourning for all of the “coulda beens” and “shoulda beens.” And, if I were being completely honest, I’d tell you that every time I look at my nieces and nephews I get a little jealous on behalf of my unborn Sprout. And when I see pictures of my siblings with their kids and Dad, part of my heart hurts. Because those kids all got to have a Papa. And they all got to know his twinkling, mischievous eyes — and the way he’d smile just so before saying or doing something he knew would embarrass them. And they all got to be scooped up in his arms and given a big ol’ hug. And they all knew that he loved them to the moon and back.
But Sprout? All she’ll have is stories of a man she’ll never know. And no matter how many times we tell her how much her Papa would have loved her (because I know, without a doubt, that he would have), he’ll remain a ghost.
Sprout will be hearing stories about people who, to her, will only ever exist in the abstract: her strong, loving Papa and her feisty, fighting older sister. To her they’ll be no more than characters. But to me, they’re the biggest losses in my life so far. And the last two people I think about every night before I go to sleep — except on those nights, of course, when Sprout is using my internal organs as a punching bag.
I still grieve for Penelope Joy every day — sometimes in little ways, sometimes in big ones. The grief isn’t like it used to be, of course. Like, every time someone in my life has a baby girl, I feel sad — no matter how happy I am for that person. The fact that I’m pregnant with a little girl of my own only slightly diminishes the sadness. Because I miss my Penelope Joy. And Sprout is not a replacement for her. Penelope Joy will always be my oldest daughter. But the sadness doesn’t always bring tears.
And I imagine I will mourn the loss of Dad every day, in little ways and in big ways. And every time I see pictures of grandpas and their grandbabies, there will be sadness. And it’s OK. Because grief is OK. Some other things about grief? Well:
- There isn’t just one kind of grief. There are different kinds of grief for different types of loss. And the grief I feel about Penelope Joy’s death is very different than the grief I feel about Dad’s.
- No matter what they say, no one knows your grief. Because grief feels different to every person — and it shows itself differently, too. They may have experienced a similar loss. But they cannot know your grief. (That doesn’t, however, mean that they can’t empathize or offer comfort.)
- There isn’t really a wrong way to grieve — just as there’s not a right way. Some people don’t grieve with tears or any kind of outward expression. Some people go through boxes upon boxes of tissues. Some people keep busy and keep moving. Others can barely hold themselves together. It is no one’s place to judge another person’s grief.
- Grief is not a “feeling” that ever goes away, like pain or fear or, even, sadness. It is always, always there — maybe not always noticeable, but always there. Sometimes it’s a quiet fall drizzle, just dampening the leaves enough to know it’s been there; sometimes it’s a raging thunderstorm with rains so fierce they threaten to wash away everything you hold dear.
- Grief doesn’t take the place of other feelings and emotions. It can live as nicely beside happiness and joy as it can anger and sadness.
That’s where I am now. Taking the grief alongside the happiness. Because my life? It is full of wonderful things. Like this growing Sprout — who keeps getting happy, healthy reports from doctors. Like my family — who all have done what we do best: love. Like our crazy dog — who brings laughter into our life daily. And, of course, like my Mr. B — who loves me (even more than he should sometimes) and is never afraid to show it.