September brings about reminders of change.
Two years ago we were preparing for one of the biggest changes in our life – the addition of our third child. We hadn’t really planned on having any more children, but then life circumstances afforded us the opportunity to reevaluate what was most important to us and that included growing our little family of four into a big ‘ol party of five.
We welcomed our second son, and third child, on September 9th, 2016 and he was everything we had hoped for; happy, healthy, a good nurser (thank the Lord!) and oh so loved by all that awaited his arrival in anticipation and excitement. One of the people who was the most excited was my Father. He was on cloud-nine. Our son would make him a grandfather seven times over – and because we all thought we were done popping out these little bundles of joy, it made his happiness surrounding this news all the more meaningful.
Last year around this time we were busily preparing for our son’s 1st Birthday – and the celebration of this little one had me stressed; running like crazy to make sure the cake, the decorations, the invitations and the food was all planned properly and would come together nicely for the big party, I’m not sure I focused on much else. We invited friends and family to come and celebrate our Baby J and to this day and I am beyond thankful that I asked a dear friend and neighbor to photograph this occasion since I knew I would be preoccupied and most likely miss all the “good” moments I wanted to have captured.
The day went great! We all had a blast and watching Baby J tear apart his beautifully sculpted and delicious cake by the wonderfully talented Ivey Childers, was the highlight of all of the moments I’d collected during that day. Afterwards, we sat with my Mom and Dad reflecting on the party and the past year, oh what a great one it had been with so many more to come.
The most poignant moment during the whole time my parents were here, which would bring about another poignant moment just a few months later, would be my Dad’s acknowledgement that he prayed for many more years to get to see his grandchildren grow up, go off to college and marry. They were moments I shrugged off because the thought of my Dad not being there for those moments were inconceivable, so much so, that I gave them no more thought than in the initial moment they were first spoken.
And then things changed.
My Father passed away on February 5th, 2018 and I’ve struggled in silence a lot over these past 6 months, to process everything that happened; the speed at which his decline in health took place to the moment when he took his last Earthly breath and parted this world for a place far better than I could ever imagine.
What’s written below is what I posted to my friends and family on Facebook shortly before my Father passed away. I’m sharing it again today because I woke up – the first day of September – and realized that as we prepare to celebrate our Baby J’s second Birthday, taking advantage of the holiday and three-day weekend, that my Father will not be here to join in the festivities. That my Mother will arrive at our home today – alone. And that feeling – those changes – hit me like a bad hangover.
That’s how Dr. Badin described the bone marrow of my father as we tried to listen intently yet at the same time process the journey our family now has to prepare for as we begin to say goodbye to the man we love so dearly.
A week ago today around this very time, I sat in stand-still traffic on I-65 reflecting on a week I’d hoped to not have to repeat but one that I knew I eventually would. I just didn’t think it would be this soon. I didn’t think eventually was, now.
But yet here I am. Here we are – as a family – facing something we truly didn’t think we’d have to face for another 10-12 years…right now.
1.4 people in 1,000,000 are diagnosed each year with what my Dad has. A very rare disease, it unfortunately is untreatable even if he were 60 years old, let alone 80. So – when I think about the poignant moment that presented itself last night in the middle of reading all I could to understand how, or better yet, why, this happened…it occurred to me that my Dad’s situation makes him a 1 in a million patient.
To our family, we’ve always known he was 1 in a million and now, maybe this is God’s way of proving it to us; that the man we love so much and who we are fighting for not to lose too quickly – is saying goodbye to us in the only way fitting for someone who has lived such a remarkable life.
Tomorrow we will begin to put plans in place to comfortably and as graciously as possible, transition our Dad to the last phase of his life on this Earth.
Dying sucks. Everything about this process sucks. Watching the man who’s been the strongest man you’ve ever known physically, mentally and spiritually disappear into someone who you recognize to be your father but who comes and goes due to the fact he has no bone marrow in his body to help him produce white and red blood cells or platelets…is just a really crappy way to have to say goodbye. But it is what it is.
And I’m beyond grateful I got the chance and that we are still having moments here and there to talk with him and to say our “I love you’s”
I’m convinced that the reason my father’s bone marrow is “empty” and “hollow” is because he literally used every bit of what he had in this life making sacrifices for his family, raising his three children alongside my mom and giving us every opportunity he could so that we could become the people we are today. And loving my mom with all his heart.
My heart may feel a little empty once we finally have to let go. It feels empty right now. And there may be a hollow space due to the hole in my heart at the thought of and the fact that I have to say goodbye to my Dad and that I won’t see him again until we’re joined together in Heaven, but I know that those spaces and those feelings will be filled with the memories of the immense amount of love and life my father gave to us while he lived his best life.
It doesn’t make this any easier.
Thank you all so much for your beautiful prayers, your sweet texts and messages and for loving on us these past couple of weeks. I’m hopeful we still have a few days, even possibly a week with my Dad. And at this point – I’ll take every single bit of it. 😌
Yes, some change is good. But some change absolutely effing sucks and rips you apart.
Yet how we deal with and manage that change can really impact our perspective, our outlook and our approach to future changes in our lives. I can choose to be sad, angry, upset and pissed off. Or I can choose to accept the changes that happen in my life as opportunities to grow, learn, reflect and be grateful. Is this hard? Hell. Yes. But I also know that in this particular situation if my Father were still alive to tell me himself, he’d grab his handkerchief, dry my eyes and tell me not to cry; that it’s all going to be okay. And it will.
I miss him like crazy. While I manage those feelings really well, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t a part of my every day thoughts, that I don’t get frustrated at the fact that he’s not here to enjoy his grandchildren, and that he won’t see them grow up, go to college and wed. But it is what it is. The way I’ve learned to manage these feelings of sadness and longing are to remember all the wonderful moments before things changed. All the memories that now become the stories my children will learn – the ones where they will gain a better understanding of who their grandpa was and the life he lived. By doing this we will all become a little less empty and hollow and a lot more grateful and thankful for the moments we do have.
Here’s to September and the many changes that come with the start of a new month, a new season, new beginnings and a new opportunity to change our perspective for the better.
– Confessions of a Corporate Mom
How do you manage change? I’d love to hear from you on your approaches to managing the changes that occur in your life. Email me at email@example.com to share your story.
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