Losing a Parent to Cancer: It’s Been 4 Months

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again.
It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

– Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Lately I feel as though I’m clinging on to anything that will bring me peace. Books, therapy, happy songs, non-violent television, positive people, you name it.  The fear is that if I stop and fully allow myself to emerge in my deep sadness, I won’t ever see light again. It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Gosh, I know it does. But the cycles of grief are so dark and confusing that at times it feels as though my head is spinning around and around, just barely letting me catch my breath. And then something happens: In my moment of darkness, I remember I’ll get through. As Pema Chodron says in the excerpt from above,

They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again.” 

This is my life as of late. It comes together, and then it falls apart. But it always comes back together.

Most recently, the thought process that gets me out of darkness is when I think hard about the life my dad always wanted for me. He was (and I know, still is) so proud of me and my triumphs, my accomplishments, the way I’d find myself out of hard situations – often times ones that I put myself in, always finding a way out and becoming stronger and better than before.  How is this any different? It isn’t. It’s exactly the same.  Much like when he was alive, I just wanted to make him proud. I never wanted to disappoint him, make him worry, or worse than that.. make him sad.

My duty now as his daughter, just like I said in my speech at his memorial service, is to live out his legacy; the greatest honor of my life. 

I feel him around me constantly – I know I’ve said that before, but his presence is so strong and I’m so aware that often times I encounter strange, beautiful things happening.  Things that give me a glimpse into the proof that I’m not without my dad. He has told me more than once that he would never leave me, that I’d always have him – I stand firm in the belief that this is his way of holding on to his promise; reassuring me that while I may suffer a physical loss that at times feels so unbearable and unfair, the spiritual loss is nonexistent. No one can take that away from us. It’s ours for safe keeping.

So throughout my journey with grief, my lasting goal is to continue to make him proud and not allow the darkness of my sadness to swallow me whole.  Wouldn’t that be so easy?  It would; to surrender to the pain and the weakness that comes from losing the most important person in your life – the one you ran to, held hands with, took care of in times of suffering, understood better than most, shared your dreams and fears with, the one you learned from, the one you looked like, the one you acted like, the one you loved more than life itself. When it’s stripped from you, the easiest route to take is to burry yourself, drown in your emotions, and let the tide take you under. I’ve thought about taking that route – how it might feel to just give in and throw your hands up; but immediately following I think about him. His life and how he also endured so much pain and suffering throughout his childhood and adult life. Losing family, losing friends, overcoming obstacles no one thought possible.  But he never gave into the darkness. He always craved the light.

Although I will suffer sadness and heavy cries for the rest of my life – I will continue to celebrate him every day I’m alive.  I live for me, but mostly for him; to make him proud and to continue on the legacy of the greatest man I’ve ever known.

Forever missing you. Love you so.


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