Tangible Goodbyes

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This month is always hard. Last year was the first year of living in grief through the powerful month of June. The month where everyone gathers around to celebrate their fathers, and the month where we would celebrate my dad’s half birthday as if it were his real one (because he really disliked the cold). We’d grill out in the backyard, sip on some beers and cocktails, exchange gifts, and constantly be surrounded by family and friends coming to celebrate the man we loved most.  This month is tough, and while I’m sure it will get easier as time goes on, it will never be easy. Not even close.

Some other changes involving the loss of my dad have taken place during this difficult month as well – while they are major changes, they’re positive ones.. but it’s not always easy to see it that way.  Recently, my mom sold the Florida house in which we said goodbye to my dad.  It wasn’t an easy decision for her, but she and my dad had both decided before he passed that if anything happened to one of them, they’d let that house go, because it’s just too big for one person – too much upkeep (and oh my gosh.. it was)  My mom is truly the strongest woman I’ve ever known, or will ever know, and she handled this transition with so much grace.  The house sold in no time, and now belongs to a husband and wife who will make new memories, and hopefully feel all the love that lived there.  My mom is now a proud owner of a lovely condo with an ocean view (her dream), offering a more simple lifestyle, less maintenance, more privacy, and a new start.

It took a while to accept this transition if I’m being honest. When my mom first mentioned to me that she was thinking of selling the house, we were in Florida during the one year mark of my dad’s passing, crying with one another over how much we missed him. I could feel her defeat and exhaustion trying to keep up with this house while trying her best to nurse her grief and heavy emotions, and in that moment I was still the baby.  It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. Thoughts went through my mind at rapid speed:

But this is where I last saw him. Dad loved this house. He passed here. I remember him standing right over there. I remember him hugging me right by that door. I remember we danced over by that fire place. I remember him walking back and forth in the backyard looking at the trees. I remember the sound of his slippers sweeping across the long narrow hallway. I remember him grilling out right there. I remember, I remember, I remember.. 

I’m always going to remember certain moments of my dad. Whether it’s in Florida, in Chicago, in Hawaii when we took a family vacation when I was little, in San Francisco, in New York.. he’s everywhere.  And as time went on, I realized how sad that house actually made me feel.  Each time I walked in, I felt sucker punched. My eyes would dart to the corner of the living room where I sat next to him when he took his last breath. When I thought of him in this house, I thought of those last 6 days where he was so frail, so weak, so not himself. That’s not how I want to remember my dad.  He was strong, hilarious, sharp and witty. He was, most of all, in love with my mother – and I know he would want nothing but for her to be able to grieve in peace, and to feel at ease within her own life as she moves forward – slowly, but surely.

When I spoke with my mom about the condo, she told me point blank: Oh, I brought him with me. He’s here. I can feel it. Isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway? When we lose someone, they live on through us. My mom is never without him. I am never without him. These goodbyes, while incredibly difficult, are tangible. I’ve said the hardest goodbye of my life.  Nothing will ever come close to that.. so I’m trying to see this more of a hello, if you will. To a new beginning, a new chapter. For my mom and our entire family.

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2 Comments

  1. June 25, 2015 / 10:36 PM

    Andddd, I’m in tears. This hits way close to home. And part of me is ever so thankful that I never have to see the room where my stepfather took his last breath ever again. Watching it once was enough, I can’t imagine reliving it every time I stepped into a room. You are incredibly strong to share all this and your journey of loss…and of finding the new. Thank you for sharing. <3

  2. Cassandra
    July 13, 2015 / 8:08 PM

    Thank you so much for this, Amanda. I really appreciate the love – and I’m so sorry that you, too, know loss :( Tight hugs. xo