Let's all be a little more toddler-like, shall we?
> If you don't like something, speak up
> If you don't want to do something, say no
> If you lose your balance, pause and regain it
> If you fall down, get back up
> If you need help, ask
I came across my dad's eulogy today. It still brings me tears to read.
Thank you everyone for coming today in honor of my father. About thirteen years ago, I was in this very room with him for my mother’s service. Both my father and I were in shock and in a great deal of pain from her sudden loss. Many people told us that everything happens for a reason; but, to be honest, I was angry and had a hard time believing that anything good could have come from something so awful. Now, however, with time and distance, I can look back on it and realize that in taking my mom so early, God was giving me the two greatest gifts in my life: the chance to meet my husband and the opportunity to build a close relationship with my father. While there were numerous challenges during the past decade, I was also blessed with many wonderful memories that I will cherish forever, most notably my father walking me down the aisle at my wedding and our father-daughter dance. However, it was the simple moments together for which I am most grateful, like how we would always stop at Chocolate World when he had an appointment in Hershey and then get lunch or dinner together; spend Christmases with our second family, the Bubbenmoyer’s; eat lunches at Old Country Buffet with my grandmother, Catherine; playing 500 Rummy; or just sit together watching TV.
When he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, we knew there was a possibility he wouldn’t beat the odds. However, because of his relatively good prognosis, I never allowed myself to think about losing him. It was only recently, when he was in the ICU and the doctors told me “weeks to months” that I began to grasp the severity of the situation. Even then, I still thought of “weeks to months” in abstract terms, as if his death was sometime down the road and not imminent because my brain wouldn’t accept that I was going to lose my dad, who still had so much left to contribute to the lives he touched.
My dad was the bravest person I will ever have known. Until February 7th, he overcame every single obstacle that was ever thrown at him while maintaining his unique, yet positive, outlook on life. He fought, I think, in part so that he could have more time here with me, even astounding the doctors with his recovery in the ICU when they thought for certain he wouldn’t make it through the night. I believe in my heart that we were given that miracle so that we would the chance to spend more time together and say everything we wanted to say to each other and I will forever be grateful for that. My dad left this earth and went home to my mom knowing that I loved him and he was the best daddy to me in the whole wide world.
I will forever love him and miss him. He was truly one-of-a-kind and he gave me a wonderful parting gift: a new outlook on my own life. I don’t know what is in store for me in the future, but I am certain that my dad will be looking down on and protecting me just as my mom has done every single day since her death. How fortunate am I to get not one, but two guardian angels?
I just want to thank every single one of you here today for the support you have shown us. It means more than I can ever express to you.
A Blessing in Disguise
Last week, I was watching my DVR’d season premiere episode of Criminal Minds. My husband happened to be sitting nearby during a part where the UNSUB killed someone. He looked over at me and asked, “Doesn’t this bother you?”
Eyes still glued to the TV, I asked, “Huh?”
He said, “The death.”
Prying my eyes away, reluctantly, I gave him my full attention. “No, why would it?”
He responded, “Because… You know…”
My husband was asking me if seeing three dead bodies up close and personal has made me more sensitive to death on TV. The funny thing is that it totally doesn’t. While some of the murders on the criminal shows I watch do get to me just based on their sick/grisly nature, the death scenes themselves never truly bother me.
Being so close to the dead bodies of people I loved as much as my own life has hardened me. In order to survive, I had to shut down my feelings. My position as an only child left me very little options to do anything but persevere through the pain in order to deal with the aftermath – namely the logistical nightmares involved with death. Where do the bodies go? What do you want the obituary to say? When will the funeral be? What clothes do you want on the body? Which casket do you want? (Pink? Brown? Silver? Economy? Standard? Premium?) What kind of flowers do you want? Do you have pictures for the slideshow? Which program? Which minister do you want to do the service? Should people be allowed to speak or not? Are you having a family car? What happens if it snows? (Because both my parents just had to die in winter.)
I’m totally not kidding. These were just a few of the questions I had to answer for both my parent’s deaths on top of contacting everyone they knew to let them know. (When my mom died unexpectedly, I got a lot of “you’re joking” responses. Like I would joke. Seriously.) Allowing myself to “feel” during this time just wasn’t possible. While I wanted to curl up in a fetal position in bed and cry my eyes out, I couldn’t do it because I had to be the responsible one. The first time, it was because my dad wasn’t in any shape to do it. The second time, it was because there was literally no one else. The buck stopped with me.
The saying that “Time heals all wounds” is true – to an extent. I have accepted that I live in a new normal now. One without my parents. Most of the time, I am okay with that. Sometimes, I’m not. My mom’s death was like deep cut in my finger. Eventually it healed, though a scar remained. My finger was never quite the same, but it was functional, only bothering me occasionally. My dad’s death was like cutting my finger in the exact same place and re-opening the scar. A twice-healed scar will never be as strong as the original skin, but it gets you by. I’m not the “me” that I was before and I never will be. But, I live on. I survive.
Do murders on criminal minds bother me? No.
But I have not watched the fifth season episode of Buffy where her mom died of a stroke (aptly titled “The Body”) since its original airing on television (even though I own the whole series on DVD). The natural deaths are harder to swallow. They hit a little too close to home.
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