Enjoying the Journey

 “The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.” -Marjorie Pay Hinckley

It’s hard to put into words what a journey these past few months have been.

I continue to see little things that remind me of Dad everywhere I go. I feel him when I eat his favorite foods, experience a weather event, hear his favorite songs, or pass along a joke or piece of advice he imparted to me. I like to talk about him, because I want to remember and pass along everything that was so inherently good about my Dad.

My dad was not only an excellent dad, but a wonderful husband, grandad, friend and just a great person. He was our rock, and I believe strongly that he is watching over our family and conspiring with God to make life as great as it can be for us without him here.

Case in point #1: My weight loss journey with Weight Watchers. I don’t believe I would have had the courage to begin and the faith to continue on in my goal of reaching a healthy weight. I’m down 26 pounds in 5 months, with 30 pounds more to go to reach my healthy weight range. 

Case in point #2: My recent career wins. A couple months ago, weary of my 48-mile commute to my former job, I reignited my career search. A few interviews later, I was offered a contract position with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online. It’s no secret to those who know me that working for Disney has been on my bucket list for years. I feel infinitely blessed, and can’t wait to see where this takes me.

Despite all these positive moves in my life, I am hurting. I am grieving. There are times when it hits me like a truck how much I miss my dad and just wish I could speak to him one last time. He was taken from us too soon, and all I can think of is that God needed Dad. God needed him for a higher purpose that I just can’t understand. But I am going to do my best at working through the grieving process in a positive way, so that I can learn and grow from it while staying connected to Dad.

Going forward, I am going to do my best to see my progress as Glass Half Full. If I had known a year ago that today I would be 26 pounds lighter with a position at Disney, I would have been over the moon excited. So I’m just going to let myself be over the moon excited… while keeping my eyes on the ball. 

The Weight of Knowing

Dad in November 2003

I’m on a journey. It’s a journey of Life After Dad.

I’m also on a weight-loss journey. I joined Weight Watchers in late January, around the time of Dad’s passing, and went to my first meeting in mid-February. I’ve lost a total of 13.2 lbs. since joining, and have recorded 6.2 lbs. of weight loss since my first meeting.

Along with my job and my volunteer work, the Weight Watchers gives me something to focus on, something to accomplish in the wake of losing my dad.

But sometimes the weight of knowing that Dad is gone literally takes my breath away. I’ll just be going about my day, trying to accomplish whatever … and it hits me. And I crumple. The other day, it happened as I was riding in the car. My husband was driving, and while I didn’t explain what happened *out loud* to him, he knew, and he comforted me.

Grief is a journey. I wish it was something I could just get through, but it’s not. My life is indelibly changed. And I’m simply having to learn to live with the weight of knowing.

The Happy Stretch: Christmas and My Birthday

Holidays_Birthday_Birthday_cake_with_candles_032043_Growing up, I always enjoyed the time between Christmas and my birthday in early February. During that five-and-a-half week stretch, I would enjoy the Christmas holidays while out of school, followed by New Year’s. Then, I would start planning my birthday party and birthday wish list based on what I didn’t get on my Christmas list.

It was always a time of hope and new beginnings: A new year — and then a month later, a new year for me.

This year — well, it was different. Time froze during this former happy stretch of time as we prayed for my dad’s recovery from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

This year, my dad was placed into the hospital two days after Christmas. And this year, we held his memorial two days before my birthday.

The day my dad died, knowing when memorial plans would take place, I sobbed and screamed on the phone to my husband that, “Christmas is RUINED. My birthday is RUINED.”

It sounds childish, but what I was feeling was the shattering of the innocence of my former happy stretch. I thought that from now on, it would be a sad and grief-ridden stretch; all happy memories gone forever.

The day of my dad’s memorial, as it turns out, was my husband’s birthday. Mine was two days later. My chef husband catered lunch after my dad’s viewing, and dinner after his memorial service. As he was serving dessert, my brother-in-law brought out a surprise birthday cake for the two of us. And as we simultaneously blew out the candles, I realized that I can choose to still make it a happy stretch.

Every Christmas, I can remember my last Christmas with my dad, and all the ones before.

And every birthday, I can remember every year I shared with my dad, and know that I am one year closer to seeing him again.

I love you, Dad.