Memories

Today marks three years since my dad passed away suddenly of a heart attack.

I know; depressing, right? My sister and I have been talking all week about how down we’ve felt, and how we always start to feel sad this time of year.

To add insult to injury, Sunday was the two year anniversary of my dear dog Charlie also suddenly passing away. It’s been a rough week.

One of the hardest things about losing someone you love isn’t just their absence from your life; once you have kids, it’s the noticeable absence from their lives. So with pregnancy hormones making me uber emotional anyway, these two losses occurring one year apart but within the same week make this particularly difficult. At least I have photos of Charlie with A; but we don’t have that luxury with my dad or our upcoming baby. Although A got to meet my Grams, another important person who has passed away in the past three years, we didn’t take any photos. She was battling cancer and very displeased with her appearance, and that isn’t how we wanted to remember her anyway.

Since I’ve been battling all this sadness this week, I wanted to try to remember the positive instead. So here are two happy stories involved my loved ones that only see us from heaven.

My dad loved baseball, and even played in a local minor league before hurting his knee and becoming unable to continue. His love of baseball meant we grew up not only watching a lot of baseball movies and being surrounded by baseball memorabilia, but also learning to play. Some of my favorite early childhood memories involve my parents, sister and me forming a small-scale diamond and playing softball in our front yard. Many a time, my dad had to come adjust my elbow or correct my stance until I got it down. We loved getting outside and tossing the ball around, but batting was (and still is!) my favorite. I’m sure we played on cloudy days too, but all of my memories involve the sunshine and fluffy clouds so often associated with happy memories. When we were older and the Wii was out, we had a lot of fun around holidays playing baseball on there as well. I’m really lucky in that my dad didn’t pass away until I was in my mid-20’s, so he got to see all of my proms, high school and college graduations, and my wedding. I wish he were here to get to know my sons, but I know they’ll know him through the stories my family and I will tell them throughout their lives.

Charlie loved being outside as well. Windy days were his favorite, and he adored the Alaska weather. His layers of fluff kept him warm in the winter, and he loved feeling the wind rush through his fur any time of year. He’d stand on a small hill, lift his face into the wind. It sounds crazy, but he always smiled when he did that. The wind invigorated him, and he’d race around the yard chasing leaves and barking up a storm of joy. He was a blur of sable and white, running crazy fast, mouth wide open and tongue hanging out. If I had to pick a single image to represent the word joy, it would be Charlie racing the wind.

Thinking about happy memories helps abate the grief, but I know I’ll always miss them. Since I believe animals go to heaven, I know they’re up there together having a blast watching our lives. I feel things very deeply, even when I don’t have crazy pregnancy hormones adding to it, and loss is another emotion I feel very deeply. There are many hard days, or hard moments, or times I’ll find myself getting misty of the silliest of things (I once cried during A Cinderella Story, and during the latest live-action Cinderella, when the parents die. True story.). But there are just as many moments where I’ll feel like they’re still here, or when the wind brushes the hair off of my face, and I can’t help think of them.

How do you deal with grief? Does the loss of a parent get easier over time, or is there absence more keenly felt?

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