17 years. that's how long it's been since my dad passed away. 17 years ago today. January 15th. this day is forever tainted, dreaded, and makes January more miserable than it already is. but, it used to be a lot more miserable than it has become. the first, i would say 15 years, every time this day would roll around my heart would break all over again, i couldn't function normally, i was constantly reminded that he was gone, that i didn't get the chance to know him very well, and that he was missing out on my life. and i was missing out on what could've been if he was still here.

now, ever since my mom opened her grief center (2 years ago today), The Bradley Center (named after my dad), it isn't so rough. it's not as gloomy as it once was. today i woke up and it wasn't my first thought. i was actually up and going when i remembered that today was the day. i didn't cry. i didn't go into a depressed slump. i thought about the good times my dad had here, i thought about his laugh. i thought about how he used to tuck us in every night and give us 'noogies' (he would rub our heads until we were laughing hysterically then it was lights out). i thought about all the happy times.

 i thought about how i've grown to not really dread this day so much anymore. it's never fun, by any means. it's still January 15th. it's still the day my dad died in a plane crash and still the day we learned we lost a dad and a husband. but it's also a big reminder that i need to live my life in such a way that i can see him again. that i can hear his laugh again and that i can introduce him to my husband and my sweet little boy, who i already know knows his grandpa so much more than i realize.

so, since this day isn't as difficult as it once was, my mom and i wanted to spend time together and remember him and have fun. so we decided to meet at Costco, because she had to work a half day, because we were going to get him some flowers because we wanted to go visit his grave. well once we got in there and started looking at the flowers, my mom made a good point that they were going to die like 15 minutes after we took them there. so we thought about what to take, and the thought came that we should take oranges and peanuts. i know that sounds bizarre, but that was one of his favorite snacks. oranges and peanuts. i can't see either without thinking of him and think about how we used to peel oranges and crack open peanuts while we watched conference or watched a movie on a Saturday night with curlers in our hair. i told my mom, and she got the biggest smile on her face and agreed. so that's what we did.
it took a bit of digging to finally find his grave. then, once it was all cleaned off and once there was room to put his favorite treat, we stood there, for as long as we could in 10 degree weather and just sat in silence. thinking about him. wishing he was here. but grateful to know he is in a better place and to know he is watching over us.

then we went back to my mom's and hung out for a couple hours while she finished up some work she had to do. i walked around and looked at old pictures of my dad and played with Dylan. i showed him some pictures too, and every time he sees my dad's photo, he smiles. he always has, ever since he was born. he knows him. and it warms my heart so much.
then we went to dinner with my brother and sister-in-law to one of my dad's favorite restaurants. TGIFridays. we love that place. we used to love going there all the time when we were kids. it was nice to be with the family that was here (we missed you Cami and Brandon and sweet Kaden) to celebrate Dad's life and celebrate his memory.

i am grateful for my experiences. i wouldn't choose them, but i am grateful for them. they are what's shaped me into the person i am today. i miss my dad. i will always miss him. if i think about it too long i do get emotional and sad. because it's not fair. it's not fair he missed out on us growing up, all of us graduating, getting married, us having kids, him being a grandpa. it's not fair. and it's okay for me to feel that way. but i am not bitter. because i can't change it. i know he is here in spirit, and i am learning to recognize when he is here with me. my mom says she can always feel him. for that i am most grateful. she needs him more than any of us do. i am glad she can feel him here on her journey back to him.
i love you daddy. i miss you terribly. i know that i will see you again. it seems so far away, but i know it's not, not in the big picture. and i don't know how, but somehow, all this time you have been away from us will be made up for. see you soon.

1 comment:

Whitney Behling said...

I love this post, it gives me hope! I think everyones situation is different so I am definately not going to say "i know what you are going through" because I don't. But I do know when it was getting closer to the first anniversary of my dad's death I thought it was just going to be another day I didn't think it would be all to different. Boy was I wrong, it was hard and so I have be hating the fact that I will have to go through that each year. However, you post gave me hope and I appreciate that. You are awesome and I think the center your mom set up is awesome too.