Hills On The Path Aren’t As Steep As They Look… dealing with tragedy, chin up baby

me & my dad, summer 1974

Sometimes, out of the blue, it hits me again. My mind wanders back to those bitter days in May, when around me life was starting to bloom, but my soul was warning me of an impending death.

Trying for two days to get a hold of him, I knew after the first call there was something wrong. Pushing the nagging worry aside, telling myself to not overreact I went about my daily duties, but always in the back of my head was this nagging voice. My subconscious was warning me something was not right.

If I had of listened sooner would it have made a difference?

This morning, peace and happiness surrounded me as I washed up dishes waiting for coffee to brew when it hit me. The replay of the events that followed and with it the sadness and guilt. Emotions that keep you’re positive state of being locked in a closet.

The second day he didn’t answer the phone I knew in my heart something was wrong. He didn’t return my voice messages and that was not like him. My father always returned voice messages. At 63, my father was a creature of habit who never dealt well with change. In anyway. The sudden (and surprising) death of my mother five years early had been his demise, pushing him full on into the bedroom of depression. He wasn’t answering the phone but there was nothing I could do. I was at work, broadcasting live on location so there was no way I could leave. Reminding myself that I felt this way many times before over the past five years, I did my job, but the nagging voice didn’t subside.

If I had listened sooner would it have made a difference? Was there anything I could have done?

Getting back to work I flippantly told a couple of co-workers I had to get to my dad’s immediately, that I was afraid I was going to laugh at the floor. This came with a nervous laugh from me, and a look of concern from my co-workers. I had to pick-up my three-year old daughter on the way, my father’s only grandchild, and we rushed over to Poppy’s.

When I got there, I felt my worst fears getting ready to rear their heads. Dad’s truck was in the driveway. He never went anywhere without his truck. I caught my breath and tried to leave Princess D in the car but her cries made me frantically take her with me. It got worse when I opened the door to the house.

Radio was on, so were lights, even though there was still sun in the sky. “Dad? Dad!” came my pleas, trying not to show my frantic concern for fear I would scare my baby girl.

Walking through the short front hall, I only turned into the corner of the hall leading to the master bedroom and that’s when I saw him. Princess D did too. Lying on his back, in his underwear, arm flung over his eyes as if he was in some sort of agony. “Dad?” came the timid voice from inside me. Nothing. Nothing from what was only the shell of my father.

Swooping Davis in my arms, I rushed outside to the car to put her in safety and call for help. My mind was racing… I need to call the police, 911, I need to call someone to take care of Davis, my brother’s girlfriend is closer. Davis’ little voice rang through the panic, “What is wrong with Poppy, Mama? Is he dead?”

“I don’t know baby. I think so,” was my somber reply.

“Is he up in Heaven with Nanny now?” my baby girl asked.

“Yes baby, I think he is.”

For the first time ever, she sat in the car, signing songs to herself just like I asked. And she did this until she was told otherwise. People were called who needed to be called, my brother’s girlfriend and Nanny Deb came to watch Davis while I sat with my father for as much of the four and a half hours it took for the police and medics to do what needed to be done. I cried and told my father I loved him very much. And when they finally started to move him, to take him away, Davis looked at me with big, round, sad eyes. “What are they doing with Poppy?” she asked.

“They’re going to take him away now baby.”

For the first time she looked like she was going to cry. Lip quivering she said, “But I don’t want them to take him away. I want him to stay here.”

Of course that was not possible and away they took him, my father, the first man I ever knew in my life. The man who taught me the value of being hard-working and strong in your beliefs. The man who taught me indirectly it’s important to listen to the opinions of others, mainly because he often didn’t listen to mine. The man who believed that I could be a success in whatever I put my mind to even if he worried about me as I tried to make my way down that path.

And these are the thoughts that creep into my mind, the home video that will forever be stored in my subconscious. I have no control over when it will be played and I can’t stop it when it does. The only thing I can control is how long I let the sadness linger for if it lingers too long then it can destroy the present I’m living in. And frankly, those are moments I don’t want to miss.

For a while I wasn’t able to control the sadness and there was a lot I was missing. Davis started talking about her “other mommy who wasn’t mad all the time.” I finally listened to my doctor and went on anti-depressants (a very hard decision for me to make, the hippie nature lover that I am) and I slowly started the path to recovery. Yoga has again become a part of my daily life and I’m moving back fully to a whole foods diet with a goal of being 70 – 80% raw foods. I’m not drinking every night as I was after Dad’s death and I’m not eating junk food to try to fill a hole that can never be fed. In reality, I’ve stopped trying to kill myself and have made positive steps to regain my health for my daughter and myself.

Now I am aware of the moments I am in, happily living them and enjoying them in this present. Davis has stopped talking about her other mommy and even when I’m hit by the sadness of being an orphan I am able to find a memory of my parents that makes me smile. This is all I can do as I continue to build emotional strength. It may not seem like a lot, but it is. It’s helping me take one day at a time and move on to a place where peace, joy and happiness surround me always.

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2 thoughts on “Hills On The Path Aren’t As Steep As They Look… dealing with tragedy, chin up baby

  1. Hello – I don’t know you but we have a mutual friend Zoe. I too have recently become and Orphan. I appreciate you sharing your story. Its at times like this when you realise your strength. I am happy that you are finding peace within, while you have had such pain. Thank you once again for sharing. Sending love and peace to you and your family.

    Jennifer

    • Hey Jennifer… thanks so much for your comments… it’s hard when you loose both your parents and you realize you’re kinda alone… no one to turn to when you need to talk to the people who raised you. for me the journey was hard from the instance i lost Mom because Dad couldn’t deal with it… not having the love of his life. but all we can do is find ways to focus on finding that peace inside so we can live fully, and to our parents the honour of remembering them fondly… this time, i had no choice but to find a way to some sort of peace because of my daughter. it isn’t fair for her to see Mommy in such pain all the time, when she needed me to help her deal with her pain.

      i hope you are finding peace as well, or are finding more peace each day as you embrace yourself with loving memories instead of focusing on the loss inside. my condolences to you on our loss… and i send love, light and hugs to you.
      xoxo
      nicole.

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