Almost a month ago my dad died. This reality keeps hitting me in new waves. I feel like I have accepted it and I am ready to live life as Cateepoo again, but then it hits me all over again.
I am a person that requires a lot of down time. I have always known this about myself and I have always tried to honor it to the best of my ability. With the death of my dad I have felt this extreme need to just be, to not have lots of things going on in my life. As much as I have tried to balance my own needs with those around me, I have found that my needs are not being met. I am not providing myself with the down time I need to mourn.
We returned from Kansas on a Saturday after the funeral. Traveling with a family and a dog wears me out even in the best situations and generally it takes me a few days to feel motivated again. I missed a staff meeting while I was gone and realized on Monday morning that not only had our program changed, but the manager at this school is more insensitive than I imagined. Yep, not only did she not send my teaching assignment until Monday morning (new classes started Monday night), but she demanded to know why I wasn’t at the staff meeting and played dumb to knowing my dad had died when I forwarded her the first email I sent a week earlier before heading out of town. Plus, a co-worker told me she mentioned it to her at the staff meeting and she “acted” sorry to hear it. She never conveyed that to me. I share this story because it has been weighing heavily on my heart. I cannot for the life of me understand why another person would contribute to the sorrow a person is feeling.
Besides immediately starting back to new classes and a program I knew nothing about, the kids had birthday parties two weekends in a row and both Easter and my son’s 15th birthday arrived. Although we are a little more low key than many people on these events, it still took a lot of effort.
I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I have had to rush back into normal life way before I am ready. This feels wrong. It feels disrespectful to both my dad and me. I know some people need to get back to normal right away. Not me. I need lots of time to reflect and adapt to this new reality.
The last few days I have felt like, “Wow, I haven’t talked with dad in a while, I should give him a call today.” I miss the simplicity of our relationship. I miss knowing that he is the one person who never expected anything from me except an occasional hug. With him I could do no wrong. There will never be another person that feels this way about me, I know that and I appreciate so much that he gave me this gift for 43 years.
A lovely friend and social worker I worked with when I taught elementary school taught me that we must always leave a situation on a positive note. So, here are some positives for this post:
- When I returned to my Tuesday/Thursday classes (I have taught there ten years and both my manager at this school and the staff were/are so wonderful to me), I was greeted by students who hugged me and said, “Lo siento teacher.” I received hugs and short explanations that they didn’t “have the words to share what was in their hearts but they love me.” I felt that love. Other students shared stories about their parents and I felt the bond I have with them grow stronger. Despite the differences in our language and cultures, we all have a deep love for our parents and the loss is felt deeply.
- I was on spring break during the week of my dad’s funeral from my Monday/Wednesday school. I teach two classes on Tuesday/Thursday at the other school and was not on spring break. Two teachers took over my classes without any hesitation. They both asked me to do as little as possible and only focus on myself. This meant so much to me.
- The staff at my Tuesday/Thursday school gave me cards and money to purchase a tree in rememberance of my dad. I can’t wait to get one and watch out my window as it grows and changes.
- Some people that have been more of acquaintances than friends have shown me how truly beautiful people are in their hearts. The kind notes, emails, and hugs have really warmed my heart.
- My immediate family has once again shown me their strength. Sophia turned out to be a stronger comfort to me than I ever imagined. She went with me everywhere in Kansas and I realized that I needed her there with me. Alexander played the part of my protector as he always does. His calm personality always brings me comfort. I discovered this has hit Steve harder than I imagined it would. Although it hurts to see his pain too, I feel such gratitude that he realized how special my dad is and how many little things he did that were so dear.
When we used to ask my dad what he wanted for Father’s day, he would always say, “One day without everyone fighting.” Unfortunately with six kids I don’t think this ever happened. For Mother’s Day this year, I am asking for one day without anything to do. I need a day to let my thoughts and memories have a chance to do what they need to do. I need a day to cry if I need to without having to stop to run an errand. I need a day to spend thinking about my own thoughts without getting overwhelmed with the concerns of others. I need a day to just feel my dad and be with him without any interruptions.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!