This Christmas wasn't what it was suppose to be at the very beginning of the month.
But it ended up being the Christmas we have dreaded ever since my Dad was declared terminal.
Our 1st Christmas without him.
A little history about us: I love Christmas. Like LOOOOOOVE Christmas. So did my Dad. I remember when I was younger Dad would put up Christmas lights that would compete with Clark Griswold. Anything that would hold still got lights. He loved it all, and most of all, he loved being Santa. To us. To anyone. He loved surprising people and making them smile.
And then...my Grandmother died December 10th, 1988. I was 8 years old. And just like that, my Dad's Christmas light went off. It may have flickered on a few times, but it was never quite the same.
So...25 years later...exactly a week before the day my Grandmother did..my Dad left us. I'm afraid I will feel this way about Christmas forever, and that he's passed on the "curse" to me.
I don't want to NOT love Christmas.
But this Christmas was hard. And exhausting. (This is the best word I can use to describe grief. Pure EXHAUSTION!!) And the entire goal of this season was to just make it though. I saw a quote on Pinterest that summed it up perfectly. "It's like Christmas lights. One single bulb goes out keeps the rest from lighting."
At times I would just panic as I saw the countdown grow closer and closer. I told Danny one day it was strange...it was like I had lost a week somewhere. And then realized, we kind of did.
I remember sitting at the table Christmas Eve and just looking around. It LOOKED the same, but as Tristen said later: It felt like a whole bunch of people were missing. It just felt weird. And wrong. And awkward.
Everything was just so strange. No phone calls to him first thing the morning to discuss what Santa had dropped off. No one asking if there would be cinnamon rolls made. No one saying "you better hurry up and get to bed...I heard Santie Claus is getting close!"
We got through it. And I told myself to just let the holiday happen. If I got everything done like I normally did, super. If I didn't feel like making 100,000 batches of candy, I wasn't going to feel bad. We ate off paper plates..WITH SNOWFLAKES!..instead of the pretty china plates...I didn't make any candy. No Christmas cookies. Most of my gifts were shoved in gift bags instead of made up pretty packages.
Christmas isn't really about any of those things, is it?
And that's what I told myself when that tiny bit of guilt or sadness started in...I didn't WANT NOR DID I have the energy to do any of those things ..therefore...I didn't NEED to do those things this year.
I did spend a lot of time on the couch curled up with my guys, watching old 80's movies. I spent some good sister time with my sister, and loved on her baby. (Speaking of..several times I thought about our family, and what a surprise Jayden's arrival was for Michelle. But...wow...God certainly knew what he was doing when he sent that little boy to her. That little guy made my Dad hang on for just a few more precious weeks, and his little smile has gotten us through the hardest time of our lives. He has been passed around, loved on, cried and snotted on... Not too shabby for a brown eyed guy who can't even talk yet! What a blessing he is.)
It's hard to be TOO sad when there is a Santa hiney bouncing around!!
"Hey! I think I'd like to try a milk shake! Tristen??... Hey, Tristen? Please?" (BTW--look at my blonde haired kid's DARK hair!! Crazy!!
I didn't attend our favorite candlelight service, but I listened to Christmas songs that made me cry. I've cried a lot, and I've prayed even more.
We have offically survived the first Christmas without him. I know next year it will still be sad, and diffrent, and I'm told it may never be the same again. But my hope is that the sparkle will be back. Or at least some of it... Because I DO love Christmas.
Some of our highlights:
Sleeping until 8AM!!! This has NEVER happened before..we WOKE the KIDS up!!!
Jacob loves his new golf set and just needs the snow to disappear so he can try those puppies out!
Tristen got exactly what he asked for. Socks. Lots and lots of socks. He seriously asked for socks. Before anyone starts feeling sorry for the poor sock deprived kid, he had plenty of socks before. The guy loves socks and having tons and tons of them just makes him happy. Socks for everyone!
Becky got a KITCHEN AID mixer from Santa, in a stunning shade of Santa RED! And a Duck Dynasty cookbook from her husband that made her scratch her head a little bit..That makes 4 DD books received as gifts this year at our house! But I sure am enjoying looking around and seeing everyone laying around reading.
Interestingly enough, Danny's favorite gift is a meat grinder attachment he received for MY MIXER. Funny, huh?? Oh that Santa has a sense of humor...
For Christmas lunch we had peppered turkey breast..THANKS, FFA!...homemade mashed potatoes that my family declared THE BEST because of the new mixer. I explained while the MIXER MAY HAVE WHIPPED them better, I ADDED the INGREDIENTS TO the mixer..therefore I STILL get credit for the mashed potatoes =P, homemade rolls and cream cheese corn.
Something new I did this year for my DC kids was an Elf on the Shelf. We named him Mistletoe Max, and as funny as it sounds, I will forever be thankful for that creepy little Elf. He made his grand entrance the morning that my Dad passed away, so he sat on my table for over a week. BUT--he gave me something festive to focus on, and its really hard NOT be have some sort of Christmas spirit while watching eyes light up at spotting him or squeals of delight when he brought treats. I had so much stinking fun with him!
He TP'ed our tree,
Hung out with us a little,
Got caught fishing in our fish tank,
And sent us a message about what the season was REALLY about!
We did have to work really hard at teaching my mom his name though. My brother picked him up off the table and asked "WHAT is THIS?" Mom replied "Oh, thats Becky's ELF, MAGIC MIKE."
I really thought I might wet my pants from laughing and BEGGED her to learn correct name before telling anyone about him.
I hope you and your family had a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more."
Friday, December 27, 2013
This Christmas wasn't what it was suppose to be at the very beginning of the month.
Posted by Becky at 8:11 PM
Monday, December 9, 2013
This post will be random. I have so many thoughts swirling around my head, sometimes its feels as though I'm losing my mind. I just want to write. and write.and write. So this may sound a bit like a drunk, blubbering, idiot, and I won't feel bad at all if everyone just needs to skip this post.
I'm not exactly sure how to explain to someone who hasn't lost a parent what its like, but this sadness, it is like nothing I have ever experienced. Right now I'm taking in a lot of comfort in those around me who HAVE gone through this and tell me it DOES get better. I'm holding them to it!
Though my dad's death wasn't unexpected, I'm not really sure you are really EVER ready. We had prepared and talked about it many times. He had been on Hospice for 4 years. How many people can say that?
I have heard stories about people on Hospice passing away, and how it takes the Hospice workers sometimes a long time to get to the house, because of distance. They are the ones who pronounce the death. I always thought how hard and creepy for the families that would be to have to sit with a body of someone they love,while waiting on appropriate people to arrive. This is not the case. That private time we had with my dad was precious, with him in his own bed, in his own house. A lot like that time right after you've had a new baby, and its just you and your husband, quietly counting fingers and toes, and the visitors haven't started pouring in yet, though instead of joy, you feel heartbreak, and trying so hard to memorize facial features. Even after he was pronounced, they didn't make us move him until we were ready. I feel as though we were given a huge gift and think we are incredibly lucky.
I found a funeral when you are distraught is a little like your wedding day. You know-- those things you hear about later that happened, but you don't remember them or had any clue they were going on. That is a little what this has been like. I know there were people there, I just don't remember seeing anyone as we walked to our seats, except my friend Lori standing and she was all I could think about getting to. I reached out my hand, and she didn't let go. It was like she was warmth and light, and I just needed to get to her.
My Dad was tucked in with a blanket that I made. There is a story to it. It was suppose to be my dad's Christmas present, and it hadn't been started yet. I had never made a blanket before and had thought I had PLENTY of time to take my time. The day he died I decided there was no way I was looking at that fabric, that I had OBSESSED over, getting JUST the RIGHT combo for HIM, and just throwing it away or just keep moving it around forever. So, I made a goal to start and finish it and bury him with it. With in that blanket are lots and lots of tears and prayers, and a few frantic curse words. My aunt gave me the worlds fastest "how to do binding" instructions, and I'm pretty sure everyone honestly had thought I had surely lost my mind. I gave me something to obsess and think about. But I'm glad I did it.
My Uncles had to drive to a neighboring town to their motel to change clothes for the service. And my uncle got a speeding ticket. 84 in a 65. That folks, is a $210.00 ticket. Is it wrong we laughed and laughed about it? The people in the fellowship hall who didn't know this story surely had to think we had lost our minds. But I'm pretty sure there was some "Heyyyy!! Watch THIS, guys!!" going on up there in Heaven!!!! Oh..and the Kansas Highway patrol officer who issued the ticket?? He was coming TO Dad's funeral when the ticket was issued. It was hysterical, and very appropriate for the occasion. My dad would have just HE-HAWED over this, and slapped the back of that officer, while never stopping giving my uncle a hard time.
Speaking of the boys in blue, my dad was a police officer or involved with the sheriffs office for 31 years, and was a sheriff in our little town from 1996 to 1998, when he resigned for health reasons. He loved his work, and had requested to be buried in his uniform. In fact, he had taken his clothes to our local funeral home 3 years ago, for safe keeping and so they would be ready. At the family meeting at the funeral home, it was brought out, and I very carefully inspected it. And my heart broke and I smiled huge...all at the same time!!..when I discovered he had stuck a PEN in the breast POCKET of his uniform shirt.
My cousin, Jesse, is a local law enforcement officer. He was very involved with my dads life, and he can immediately came when my mom called him Tuesday. I tell him he has broad shoulders, becuase he has carried my entire family this past week. I realized at the family meeting at the funeral home, that he had a black band over his badge...signifying the death of a officer. Tuesday, everywhere I looked I would see these black bands...even on our local fish and game officer. And as stepped out to walk out to our seats, there was an entire section of blue in that church. And as they carried Dad out, those beautiful men were lined up, saluting.
As we went down the road that would take us to the cemetery, we were greeted with this sight. And again, I cried so hard I thought I was going to die.
This would be a salute from our local fire department. What you CAN'T see is how COLD it was, and how they stood so still, when they had to have been freezing. I was honored they would do this for my dad. They had done a flag ceremony, and done a Last Call at the church, but this was harder for me.
At the graveside, the honor guard did the 21 gun salute and TAPS was played. Remember how I said it was cold? I discovered around the time the preacher started to speak, that I could not tell if I was shaking because I was upset, or because of the cold. I just remember Danny suddenly put his arms around, and how thankful I was for his arms and warmth and I thought I couldn't possibly stand up a minute longer.
I am tired of crying. My friend Melanie had told me that its possible to cry tears straight out your nose. She was right. Its also possible to run out of tears. Like you go through the motions of crying and ARE crying, but your eyes just can't keep up with your sadness, and just seem to give up for awhile.
I'm tired of not sleeping, and when I do sleep, I'm tired of my dreams. They are very vivid and bizarre and always wake me up. And I'm tired of waking up crying. Every stinking morning.
This feels a little like Christmas morning. You know the feeling: You've worked so hard for a month and have worked so hard and wrapped those package...and then you stand in the middle of the living room with all the mess of wrapping paper, and think wow--thats it?? Now what?
The MORAL of our story...is this: It does not matter HOW they leave. When they are gone..there are no words to describe it. Even if you've had years and years, and many a conversations about this day. Nothing can describe it.
My dad taught me so much. More than I could ever sit here and write about. But what he did teach me most about was living. About fighting. About dignity. He always wanted to do things his way. And he did.
Until his very last second.
Posted by Becky at 7:56 PM
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Tuesday morning my momma discovered that my dad had went to sleep, and had quietly passed away during the night. No pain, no struggle, just peace. He was sweetly sleeping in his bed, with his pillow bunched up, just like he likes it. If you were going to leave this earth in an ideal way, this would be it. He went to sleep all warm and cozy in his bed, and woke up next to Jesus.
My family and I have been in sort of a grief induced numb state. I had told myself I was SURE I had already gone through some the grieving process, before I had even lost him. I have since learned this is complete crap. Its just something you tell yourself.
I knew I was going to lose my dad.And I knew I would be losing him soon. There had been so many signs and changes.
But I have never felt anything like this. Raw, deep, to your core, can hardly stand up, sadness.
I kissed him today for the last time. The first guy I loved. The first guy I held hands with, danced with. The guy who ran beside me when I was learning to ride a bike. The guy who looked so handsome in a police uniform, and who cried when he gave me away on my wedding day.
The guy who fought so long and so hard.
The guy who told me death was nothing to be afraid of, and accepted it more than I was ever comfortable with.
I watched my husband and my 2 boys, along with 3 other amazing men, carry him out of the church. I'm pretty sure had my best friend not been there holding my hand AND me UP, I surely would have died too. It is horrible to watch a casket be closed, and carried out, with your daddy inside of it. My mind can not even begin to imagine that I will never ever see him again. Or hear him laugh.
I'd like to share more about my dad, and his service, and I will soon, but for right now, just some pictures.
I see a lot of my Tristen in this picture.
My Dad with his beloved purple truck. Isn't he stylin??
Dad with my little brother, Eric
I just found this picture in a box while looking for pictures for a poster board. I had never seen it before, but I love it. He looks so young, and handsome.
With one of his best friends, David. Dave died about 4 years ago. I hope they are sitting at a table, drinking ice tea and strong coffee, telling "stories".
Working on the tractor, annoyed with my picture taking. He was still strong and tan in this picture. I think this was around 2002.
Again, my wedding, with my sisters flower girl head piece. No...he had not been drinking. ;)
With the grand-babies he loved so much. I am so thankful he got to meet Jayden.
My dad's youngest brother, Andy, posted this song on his Facebook page Tuesday.
"For my big brother Mike, who went home today."
I have listened to it over and over and over again.
Will post again soon!
Posted by Becky at 10:58 PM