It is that time of year again when the Christmas rush is upon us. There are carols being sung, trees decorated, nativity scene set out, food being eaten, cookies baked ... basically memories being made. And once again I am at a time where my heart is aching, tears are always just there.
I tried to get into a Christmas-y mood early and set up my Nativity scenes, set the tree up, baked some cookies and had carols and Christmas songs going in November this year --- which is a HUGE change for me. I have been fighting like mad to stay cheery and in what most people would call a Christmas mood. But it is now crashing down around me and I want to sit and cry, scream, crawl into bed and pull those covers over my head until this whole time is over.
I know every year I struggle and this year is no different -- even with the head start to get into the Christmas cheer before the Bah-humbugs got me.
But a few weeks ago I found some wonderful pictures of my dad with Josh and Sam just after Sam was born -- this was also the last Christmas (1995) I had with Daddy and sadly the last time I saw him in person, before SHE and her boyfriend decided to so violently beat him (that was in August of 1996). I posted these pictures on FaceBook and made a comment to the effect of that as much as I loved finding these pics I wish there were more of him and I together too. This brought comments of "just be glad you still have him" and "at least you are blessed to have him in your life still" and the like. I am sure they thought they were trying to help or that they felt they knew what they were talking about...
But I wanted to scream and rant that I dont have HIM! My dad was taken from me that fateful August afternoon when she and her boyfriend decided to take my Dad's life in their hands. The two of them took my dad from me. They took my childrens grandfather from them. They were able to beat him senseless, cause him to slip into a coma and walk away. Scott free. They both are walking free in the world able to enjoy life and their children and possibly grandchildren....
But what really gets me is that people minimalize my feelings of loss and grief with the assumption that my dad is still 'here'.
Let me get this out there and set the record straight please.... not just for me but for others who may be living with this too! (I surely cannot be the ONLY one in the world)
When I go to visit Daddy at the PCH, it is only his body that I am visiting. The man in the wheelchair is just the shell of the man who was my Dad. Gone is the man who had a wicked sense of style, a fabulous sense of humour. His laughing killer blue eyes would literally twinkle when he would tease me. They would dance when he would talk about his grand babies. Daddy's enormous, generous heart is not there. His love for semi's, family and "corny-make-you-cry" country songs is gone. Gone is my Daddy's love for life, singing and playing around with his guitar.
I know I can share all this through my with my kids -- and I truly hope I do, but the hard part is having to tell thim this with him sitting there ignoring me, not knowing me or even worse swearing obscenities at me or swearing very inappropriate things to me. When family/friends (and there arent many) come to see him or talk to him on the phone they are not graced with this kind of behaviour -- so they 'see'(or hear) the best and to be honest, I think Dad probably DOES know them and have memories of them. Dad may know I am "jodi" but the fact that I am HIS daughter is completely and utterly lost on him.
SHE and her boyfriend took not only my dad from us but they took my memories with him.... with him. I am an only child, of divorced parents and my Daddy was my 'bestie'. He and I would spend time in the trucks, shopping, watching tv, playing with toys, visiting family -- it never mattered what we did as long as we were together. I am an only child and I have no one to help me to remember times with Dad. I have no one to share those "Oh remember when we ..." or "Do you remember that time that ..." moments. And even sadder the old memories are now being replaced with the vulgarity he spews at me from time to time (and this is getting to be more and more frequent) and the fact that I am not who I should be to him anymore. His daughter, his partner in crime teasing my gran or my aunt, the one he would phone from work to share a joke with. I have no one to share the work load with (other than Dennis), guilt resides where love should when I cant get to see him and he has had no visitors for a few weeks. Guilt sits where love should when I tell people that my Dad died that day when he was beaten and I am told by others "be happy he is still alive". People who never knew my Dad or knew how our relationship was. How much I loved him and he loved me. How much we talked and laughed in a phone call, or how much was never said but felt as we would sit and watch an old movie or go for a coffee. I tell him now that I love him and his response is "i love you' but then it is his response to everyone from the nurses aid to one of the maintenance guys, whether they say it to him or not.
I dont know if I will ever get to fully grieve, because of these ideas that I am "lucky" to have him. I WAS very lucky to have him as my Daddy but now he is gone and I am left with his shell and a huge empty hole in my heart where he used to be.
Ambiguous loss sucks and what really sucks is that no one understands(what I live with is the same as with someone who is caregiving someone with Alzheimers or Dementia)... and the huge irony in this all is that I am living the same issues that my survivors are with the need for education of what we are living.
If in your travels you happen to encounter someone who may be struggling (or they may not 'seem' to be because they are working hard to keep it under wraps) with loss or grief, please choose your words carefully. You never know what hurts or holes they are trying to heal or deal with. And when it comes to loss you just never know... there are many, many kinds...
And if you ARE struggling with this horrible ambiguous loss issue, I would be interested to know how you handle it whether it be graciously or not. Do you have a standard go to answer for people if they happen to belittle your feelings or do you go from the cuff? What do YOU do?