It's hard to believe that this was us just a year ago: trying to have a good time in Roatan despite the terrible diagnosis...but still together.
It's harder to believe that this is my life now - with no you. I hate to whine about it...but it seems so unfair to me that our historian, our photographer, is gone (and of course, and more, that my father is gone). I don't see my children smile as widely anymore as I saw them smile in pictures you took...and I know that I feel different, ungrounded. I'm having a really hard time taking things seriously, with this feeling that life is so fleeting.
I'm never far from the pain, and from the memories. December: "A year ago we had our last Christmas being someone's children, being together as a family." January: "A year ago, Dad was diagnosed." "These were the days we spent learning everything we could about pancreatic cancer." February: "A year ago we were trudging through the snow in Bayfield and sliding down the hills." March: "A year ago we were celebrating Bill's birthday together in Roatan." "A year ago we were returning from our last trip together." I'm getting farther and farther from those though.
And even the good stuff causes me twinges - Noah's first haircut! Natalie looking so big and happy in her new backyard! Matthew's 2nd birthday party, at his house in Evanston, surrounded with family and friends. Katie will be making her first communion this year...and we're doing it all without our photographer, and without our biggest smiles.
However, dear Dad, I know that life isn't fair. I also know that I was gifted with a pretty good life, in the scheme of things. Yes, there is plenty of shittiness, but at least I am tough enough to handle it (or prepared enough - what's the phrase - tested by fire?) - MOST days.
So anyway, my progress report: I am not the all-A student you raised when it comes to grief management, but I am at least passing this class. I started running again (and that makes me cry, to tell you that! I would guess you can run again, too, now that your legs are not all ruined)...I'm not any good at it AT ALL, but I'm trying and not giving up for once. I'm not allowing myself to be intimidated by the runner that I used to be, and I am starting from scratch. It's like Fitness '93! I made a whole plan for myself and I'm sticking to it, and recording my progress and all. I may even cry myself through the Peter Cottontail Run, without you, just for old times sake...or maybe I'll bring Emma and teach her about how you used to drag me out and make me miserable while you sang that song the whole way. Or maybe I'll bring Katie and she can make me miserable and I'll feel the same way I used to feel (she won't be singing, she'll be berating me for making her do it, but the end result will be the same).
Next: I'm starting a Brownie troop for Katie tomorrow. You probably would not feel this is such a great thing - you'd prefer I was not always doing kid stuff...but I'm telling you anyway. I'm hoping for a whole new wholesome adventure and more special time with my precious and most dangerous child. (Dangerous for me, because she has my same bad temper and we can make each other crazy.)
I guess the point of all of this is, I'm trying to force my life to go on. I'm trying pretty hard to engage, even though sometimes I wonder if any of it is worth it. Losing you, and maybe also losing that role - "daughter" - still hurts an awful lot...so much that my other roles aren't quite filling up that spot (though I try pretty hard with the "mother" role...and the "aunt" role helps too). Maybe these new adventures will help me pass the time and one day I will look up and not feel that hurt quite so much.
Anyway, Dad, I'm sorry for the times that I didn't appreciate you as I probably should have. I should have probably worked less hard on my "mother" role over the past 10 years and worked harder on the "daughter" role - because it seems I wasn't ready to be done with that role yet! (And everyone knows, you can always mother harder...it is a neverending spectrum, motherhood.) Hopefully you know my intentions now, though, and know how much I loved you, even when we didn't always understand each other.