April 9th, a Day of Reflection
I often shield a lot of my personal life from this blog, mainly because I want this to be a place of positivity, joy and carefree of everyday problems. However, today I want to share with you something very personal to me how I have coped with it and how it has shaped the person I am today. April 9th is a very sad, special and reflective day for my family and myself. It is the anniversary of when my father passed away, and today marks the sixteenth year without him in my life. I was unfortunate enough to lose my father in a freak accident when I was eleven years old. I miss him every day and am sorrowed by all the wonderful events I was not able to share with him. It is true that with time, grief, becomes easier. However, it is difficult to think what if? I have struggled with my grief over the years, but in the last five years of my life it has become much easier because I shifted how I look back on my father's death.
Instead of asking "what if," I try to remember all the wonderful memories I have with my father. Although my parents were divorced at the time of his death I hold many fond memories with my dad and of our family together in it's entirety. I was very fortunate to have an amazing father and shared wonderful experiences with him growing up; I know not all people have this luxury with their parents. My dad was devoted to us and being everything to us because he did not have a father growing up. We played horseshoes weekly, flew kites, went camping and biking. Actually, one of my strongest memories is my father teaching me how to ride a bike when I was about five or six. He had been working with me on it for nearly a week. I am pretty stubborn when it comes to learning something and wanting to do it myself so he took my brother and I to our neighborhood park where it grassy and softer to fall on. He left me to work on it myself, while he and my brother flew a kite, because I was getting really frustrated. Sure enough, within a couple minutes I was off and nearly ran them over! When I was in fourth grade my dad took me on a trip to Mission San Jose for my California mission project. On the trip, we also went to Winchester Mystery House. It was just the two of us; we had so much fun and I treasure that memory everyday.
The sad thing about time is that you sometimes lose some of those memories. Writing is one way I have been able to keep these memories alive. I know I will be able to look back on my writing even if a memory has faded. I do miss certain things, like how my dad smelled. After he died I would wear his flannel shirts because they reminded me of him. I also watched home movies often to hear his voice and catch glimpses of him (he was often behind the camera).
Grief is a funny thing, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve, well maybe not grieving would be the wrong way. It is different for everyone and it is especially difficult for children. The police department appointed a chaplain to our family, who definitely helped our family process the grief. My mom did the best she could in honoring and preserving our fathers memory and helped my brother and I with our grief the best way she knew how. Later in life I learned about The Dougy Center from a book my mom gave me. I wish we knew about The Dougy Center when I was younger, but it has helped me later in life understand my grief. They are a national organization dedicated to supporting children and families through grief. In Portland, they offer grief counseling programs for children that is a safe and constructive environment for them to grow in. I am looking into their volunteer program now that I am more comfortable and accepting of my grief.
Today is a hard day. There was crying...and in writing this it feels bittersweet because I feel I can talk about it so openly and yet my heart feels a little bit heavier today, missing my dad. Tonight Will and I are celebrating my dad by having one of his favorite meals...steak! I will be remembering fond meals where we had steak dinners and ice cream for dessert. To my mom and my brother I hope that you are filled with fond memories of dad today. Dad, I love you and you are greatly missed!
Photo: Apparition by Animesh Ray