First profound loss

First profound loss

“They” say, we come into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. But what happens when someone you love goes, and you have to stay?

Never having something can be a deep sadness. Longing and pining for something is a lonely walk through life. But having something, and then being deprived of being with that something you once had……that is Loss. When I was 13 years old, my father died. He was in the hospital. He had espohegeal cancer and had it surgically removed. The doctors wanted him to have chemotherapy or radiation or whatever existed back in 1979. But my dad didn’t want to do it. Back then, the treatments often killed you, if the cancer didn’t. I remember he came home after the surgery. He was recovering. Oh it was so hard for him to give up smoking those Muriel air tipped cigars he loved. My older sister Donna smoked cigarettes and I remember my dad, creeping out of his bed, all bandaged up and in pain. But the draw of stealing one of her cigarettes was stronger than the pain of recovering from the surgery that cut out part of his esphogus and lifted his stomach to reattach it. Awful thing, nicotine. It killed my father. It took the only dad I would ever have. He went into the hospital for …. some sort of infection that developed. It felt like a matter of days…and then in a surreal moment, my mom was sitting on my bed at 6am when my alarm went off for school, telling me that I didn’t have to go to school that day. Daddy had died. And my world as I knew it had died too. He was 56 years old. Just like Debbie.

Sudden loss is like being swatted like a fly. One moment, you are flying through the air, batting your wings, blissfully moving forward, going somewhere. You know, living. Until….WHACK! Your father just dies. And you are flat against the sheets in bed. Crushed by life. Crushed by death.

The hardest part for me was the believing. For a really long time….a few years, if I am honest, I didn’t really believe he was dead. My mom asked if I wanted to go see Daddy before the cremation. I said NO, with wide eyed shock. How could you ask me that mom? If I saw daddy….dead….how would I ever be able to close my eyes and see him un-dead ever again? Our family didn’t do death well. We didn’t have a funeral. My dad wasn’t laid out for friends and loved ones to see. No, my father just went to the hospital. And then never came back. He died. And whatever…whatever happened to dead people, …is what happened to my dad. But to my 13 year old mind and heart….I often dreamed that my dad would just come back one day. That he’d pull his brown Oldsmobile sedan into the driveway and walk into the kitchen. Only, the Oldsmobile was already in the driveway. And dad hadn’t come. He’d never come home again.

It took me years to process his loss. Maybe I’m still. The Loss of my dad was so scary. I felt untethered from the planet. I felt like anything could happen to me now, without him. I was at the age where I still possessed little girl dreams. Ridiculous dreams. The kind that probably wouldn’t come true. I was only just beginning to think about my own life. The one I would one day live independent from my parents and the home I grew up in. Without my dad…I didn’t know how to transition from dreamy dreams to real life dreams. I didn’t know what I could be. What was realistic. I didn’t know how to see myself in the world. That also took me years….and alot of mistakes…to figure out. For a long time, I chased security. Permanence. I wanted to be safe again. I wanted to go back to before. The time before ordinary life felt scary. I searched for someone who could help me feel like that. It was another very long time before I learned that no person would fill the Loss that lived in me. I don’t think that I’ve ever healed it. Even today, as a very grown woman….life scares me.

Loss. It is a deep hole.

You lose more than the person you loved. You lose more than their physical hugs and affection. Their laughs, the warmth that radiates into the home from their being. I lost my way, on my way, to growing up. My mom was lost too. She did her best. It was hard. We all lost direction for a while. Hours became a day. Days became weeks, then months, then years. But for a very long time….I was a scared, lonely, lost 13 year old girl living in a young woman’s body. Surviving in a family that did not talk about death or grief or coping with loss. We just cried alone in the dark in our beds, visited daddy in our dreams, woke up the next day and swallowed it down. And did it again. and again. and again.

It was dysfunctional. It was all I knew for a very long time. That was the first big loss of my life. A wound that still hurts. She still cries for her dad, that 13 year old Diane.

Ciao for now…..Diane

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