One Year Of Loss

Today marks one year.

One year has passed, and a hollow ache permanently resides in my heart. I have journaled (those exact words), I have wept, I have struggled with my faith, and I have grieved. I think I always will, because nothing will ever fix the hole my father filled in my soul.

But I am stronger. I can talk about him now without falling apart, choking up, and crying more ugly tears. It still hurts, but I can now remember good memories and not just the painful ones of his decline.

I think he’d like that, for me to remember him with joy rather than sorrow, since he was a rosy-cheeked man many described as “jolly.” (And yes, on more than one occasion he donned that red suit and played the part of the really jolly man with rosy cheeks for the children during our community holiday party, though we—Hindus all—celebrate Christmas in only a secular way.)

It would have been nice to commemorate his passing with some achievement, with some thing to be proud of, but I realize now that “something” is me—I’ve been a work-in-progress all year, a broken shell of myself, a Humpty Dumpty fallen off the wall. And I’ve been collecting the pieces and gluing them all back together. The cracks still show, but the form is returned to a whole.

I wonder what this next year will bring, without him. But I think I’m ready to attempt it.

The Birthday

I heard a song and these lyrics made me cry. Today would have been my father’s 72nd birthday.

In the almost nine months since he’s been gone, I have heard all sorts of advice:

“He’s in a better place,” with a hefty dose of “It’s God’s Will.”

Yes, I agree. Cancer is an evil disease that creates a very special breed of suffering.

But even as I struggle with my faith, this is one unshakeable truth.

Watching him die was its own torture, and the slow, inexorable march of destruction the cancer wrought on his body and mind haunts me. I think it always will. And certainly railing against God, particularly for something as merciful as finally ending his suffering, will avail me nothing.

“It gets easier.”

Perhaps. It hasn’t yet. Some say I should give it more time. Others, that I should have been feeling better by some specific date or time. Yeah, none of that happened. I just moved my tears to the shower, or the car, when I’m alone and my mind is insufficiently occupied. Honestly, I think people just say this because the alternative is unpalatable.

“It never gets easier.”

I believe this one is true.

Perhaps because I was blessed to not have truly watched suffering, or because before the stakes weren’t so high, it didn’t bother me as much in my teens and twenties when I lost people. Of course, none of them were as close to me as my own father.

But now, faced with the realities of motherhood and mortality, the responsibilities of providing for my children and the worry of aging parents, and cursed with a greater knowledge of the dangers and evils of the world, I know that I will continue to receive this news. With it comes the grief—my own and that of other loved ones. And knowing how much it hurts now, how much others will hurt, how much they will continue to hurt, it makes my heart hurt.

I’m not convinced the pain ever grows easier to bear.

All I know is that I’ll never get to hear my dad’s voice (or advice) again, feel his hand in mine, or share the joy of our lives together.

There is nothing I can do about it.

I can’t fix it.

I can’t take away my pain.

I can only keep myself so busy, my mind so occupied, that I don’t allow my sorrow to consume me.

Because I still feel lost.