When you haven’t blogged in ages, it’s so hard to start back up. There are so many things that haven’t been said or shared. How do you pick up where you left off when the world has changed so dramatically since you last wrote?
I have so many cute stories, pictures and videos of the kids that I want to share, but first I want to share where my head and heart have been lately. While I’ve been living a pretty normal mom life for the past couple of months, as a daughter, my heart is elsewhere. It’s so broken.
Broken for me. Broken for my Dad. Broken for my brothers and sisters. Broken for my kids. And so, so broken for my Mom.
It’s so hard to believe that he isn’t here. And even harder to believe he won’t ever be again.
The mind is a strange thing. I watched my Dad take his final breath, yet I thought to myself yesterday “I can’t wait for him to watch the girls play softball this summer.”
Then I remembered.
Grief is just this cycle of forgetting, remembering, getting mad and then sad. Repeat. Several times a day.
Although, I am starting to feel a bit of gratitude.
A week ago, the idea of being grateful for my memories just made me mad. I don’t want to be grateful for what was - I want more memories!
I want to celebrate my parents 40th anniversary at the lake like we planned. I want him to sit in his lawn chair at the softball games and ask Henry to come sit and watch the girls play. I want to go home and find him out back working on some crazy project that drives my mom nuts. I want to give him a hug on Christmas morning.
Damn it. I just want more. But not just for me. For everyone, especially my mom. I knew my parents would die someday. Weirdly, I never prepared for the idea that one would go and one would be left behind and the one left behind would be heartbroken. So heartbroken. Watching helplessly as she bleeds and aches from his loss is worse than my own pain.
But I think I said I was starting to feel grateful. I read this quote the other day that I can’t remember exactly, but the basic idea was how lucky we are to have had someone in our life that hurts this much to lose. This deep pain is a sign that I was lucky to have such a good Dad. It struck me because it wasn’t saying “your pain will go away if you think about the good memories.” The quote was saying “go on and feel that pain. It means he was awesome.”
And although I don’t want to be a mess of sadness forever, I’m not ready to leave that sadness yet. I don’t want to be in a place that I don’t think about him several times a day. I want to think about him often and I want to feel the sadness that comes with remembering he’s gone - it makes me feel closer to him. And I’m clinging to anything that brings him closer.
A week or so after we found out about the cancer, I wrote him a letter to let him know how I felt. Looking back, I wish I could have said the words out loud, but I’m glad he knew it either way. My dad wasn’t big on talking about his feelings, so maybe this was easier for him, too.
I’m not very good at speaking my feelings and thoughts (I probably get that from you), so I decided to write you a letter.
But where do I start? These past few weeks have been shocking, scary and heartbreaking. I’ve known for a long time that you aren’t invincible, but I guess I never pictured anything actually taking you down.
Not my Dad. He’s tough as nails. If you hit him, he’ll hit you twice as hard. Just ask him, he’ll tell you.
And I expect nothing less, Dad. Cancer took the first punch. And maybe the second punch. But I know you’ll get back up and you’ll hit it twice as hard. Because you’re John Lane. And John Lane is the strongest man I know.
You’ve protected me my whole life. When we were home alone as kids, everything seemed scary. Every noise, every creak. But as soon as you and Mom got home, it was like our house was safe again. Dad’s home. Nothing bad will happen.
I remember a moment we had after Mom miscarried. I wasn’t crying, but thought I should be. You told me it was OK to not cry, that I was like you. And I was so proud to be like my Dad.
You’ve been my lifelong teacher. When I was learning to sweep, you showed me how to lean the broom on my shoulder so I didn’t need anyone to hold the dustpan. And while that’s a silly example, it is one of a million examples of you teaching us everything you knew. You never turned down a chance to impart your wisdom. I’m so damn thankful for that.
Plant your back foot. Keep your eye on the ball. Choke up on the bat.
If you turn the rake over, you can easily wipe the stuck leaves out.
If you brush the ball with the top of the racket, you’ll put a little English on it.
He probably just has a bubble in his belly. When you’re trying to get a baby to burp, just bounce a little with them.
From sweeping to baseball to tennis to babies to every other life lesson, you (and Mom, of course) helped prepare us to survive this world.
But the most important lesson of all? Love. You showed us all the importance of family and sacrifice. You spent nearly 40 years working a labor-intensive job so that we had food, a home and all of life’s needs. You endured extreme heat, ice and snow, missed events, exhausting days and asshole bosses. Thank you so much for that, Dad. Thank you for that sacrifice.
Not only have you shown us love with your sacrifices (which were many beyond UPS), you also have shown us by doing. You are always willing to lend a helping hand. I can’t count how many times over the years you’ve shown up on your white horse.
Building a fence, fixing a clubhouse, laying flooring, raking leaves, tying a plastic pool down on top of my car, moving me from Auburn to Manhattan, trimming the trees around my house — I could go on and on for days.
And that’s just me!! You’ve done it for all of us kids. How can we ever say thank you enough? Not only for loving us and showing us with all of that hard work, but by teaching us how important it is to take care of those you love.
I remember the day you brought me flowers on my first mother’s day. I don’t know if I ever told you how much it meant to me, but it meant so much. And then watching you with my babies and the other grand babies — that is one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given. Our Dad might have been tough as nails, but Pa is a big teddy bear!! If you ever wonder what kind of impact you’ve made on those around you, all you have to do is see the joy in the faces of these grand babies. They love you!
We are all so lucky to have such a loving, hardworking, lesson-teaching Dad that would never let any harm come to us. Now, it’s our turn to be there for you.
Cancer threw its punch. Now, let’s throw ours. We’re right behind you as you hit back twice as hard.
I love you so much, Daddy.