On the first day you left, I opened a new google doc and titled it: “365 days without my dad”.
Every day since then you have proven me wrong.
My gaze lingers longer than it should on the butterfly or the hummingbird.
Is it you? What are you now? More of a feeling or a moment, rather than someone I can hug and see.
My guardian angel, the person I still call on when I can’t bloody figure out how to fix something (and you always show me the way).
You’re the song on the radio that airs at the perfect time and the lyrical messages on repeat in my mind.
Through the moments of fog and low visibility, you are a chorus of crickets guiding our way. One at every turn, day and night, in the most surprising places. Capturing our attention and activating our sense of humor with that comforting, familiar chirp.
Dadio, husband, brother, “coach”, boss, neighbor, friend, son, kind stranger – even though we can’t see you with your baseball glove on or share in the satisfaction of a good car washing party, we can’t deny that you’re here. In us; in everything beautiful, funny and hopeful.
Here we are on day 366; you are still gone, yet ever here.
We are MORE and so are you in us.
There are so many things that can’t be put into words and so many other things that I wish I never had.
Maisley kept asking where Poppi was when we were celebrating his birthday dinner. She asked if he was going to come down from the sky now. I got halfway through my beautiful explanation about how we can’t feel the wind but we know it’s there when she started asking for a french fry.
Yesterday she asked, “What’s money?”
It’s hard to explain something when I don’t really know the answer myself.
This year has been my coming of age story. I’m not going off to college or leaving the house for the first time. I’m not young and getting drunk with my crew of friends to ease the pain.
It’s raw and awkward and I’m 32.
For the first time in my life I have been forced to truly separate from one of my parents. The person who made me feel safe in the world.
I’m a mother and I’m learning how to grow up, to find interdependence in all of my relationships, all the while raising two girls. A journey of coming to terms with all of my selves – past, present and future. A time where I question if some of the words I say are even mine. Where anger explodes to mask sadness or vulnerability.
Maisley spent the first half of her first soccer practice picking her nose and the second half with her hands firmly on her hips, refusing to move or speak because some punk knocked her over in the goal.
Sometimes we smile when we want to cry. Sometimes change, even when right, feels wrong. Sometimes, words are overrated.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” – Paulo Coelho
September is chock-full of change – new school year, Football season (eye-roll) and fall on the horizon. Grounded into the newness are lingering summer nights that leave me grasping for the memories and feelings of more carefree days.
It’s officially September 2019 and I do not want to pass go. I do not want to collect $200. I just want to rewind the days. What if tomorrow was September 6th instead of September 8th? Land mines fill the month. Birthdays and all of the “last year at this time” memories. Last this and that.
It seems impossible, and yet, we’ve survived impossible over the last year. Standing up after he died and speaking to nearly 1,000 people, that was impossible. Lindsey and Brandon’s wedding, impossible. Dark days of grief, impossible. Writing a book about him, also impossible. And yet, we’re doing it (and people do even wilder, more impossible things all the time).
All of the impossible hasn’t been for nothing, it’s actually been for many things. Of which I will collect sometime in October.
One of my biggest layers of resistance for September 29th is a sense that I need to relive that day. But why do I need to relive that day? Who says I do? In EMDR therapy last week I had an incredible moment of knowing (a message and gift from Dadio). It was this: do what we loved to do. I had a beautiful vision of scouring the tide pools in one of our favorite places, Laguna Beach. So that’s what I will be doing.
As I’ve learned this year, it’s not going to be okay. It’s never going to be okay that he’s not here. But, I know that we can handle it (even if it’s not pretty), and I know that we are never alone (held every step by God and Dadio). Resilience is something that’s earned, it’s not just a given trait like curly hair or green eyes.
What would my dad say? “It’s just another day”.
They met in the waves one foggy, August morning. Both in full wetsuits, all set in the lineup, with calm, friendly fins.
And they met in the sky one sunny afternoon. Both in expansive wings, free flying the friendly skies, above the ground and the weight of the earth. Held in the arms of the wind.
Time seemed to stop as these kindred spirits held the same space. If only for a breath; bound by the spiritual glue of the ocean and of the wind that belongs to everyone, to no one. That carries those who dare to drop in and leap, trusting that they will be carried.
I wonder…who wants to be like who? Are the dolphins wishing for the stoke of the surfers? Do the birds envy the finesse of the paragliders? Or is it just us trying to shed our humanity and connect with the things our souls know to be true?
We’re all more alike than we are different; everything we can see with our eyes and that which we can only feel with our hearts.
I’m just a girl, sitting on the beach, a witness to the converging of worlds, coincidently having a picnic with the squirrels.
There’s only so much other people see; at the park, on a playdate, in a photo or through an Instagram page. It’s all real, but it’s only a part of our story. The intricacies, everything unfiltered, what we’re like in these four walls – that’s the nectar reserved just for us. The cheeky smiles before the huge laughs, the inside jokes on the last page of the potty book, the bedtime shenanigans, the embarrassing dance moves, the strange “sammie” voices and nonsensical nicknames. How we look singing Sam Hunt songs in Eddie the Explorer. The loudest screams, the deepest cries and the softest hearts. Pillow talk. The best of us, the worst of us, all of us. In the moments in between what other people see and what we choose to share, we are knitting the heart of our family. A family of our own. Home.
I used to think Maisley had an imaginary friend. Her name was Ara. She talked to her often; on long drives, in the kiddie pool, in bed. After months of inquiring about Ara and google searching the scale of normal for imaginary friends, I found out some other, arguably less disturbing news about who Ara really was.
It happened in the car one day.
I turned around in the midst of a conversation with Ara to find Maisley gently cradling her left foot. She proceeded to tell me that Ara was sandy. Ara, her left foot, was sandy. I finally caught up to her imagination and asked if her other foot had a name. Indeed it did, his name was Little Boy.
This is Maisley, Ara and Little Boy at their first day of preschool.
It’s so easy for me to see your failures as opportunities for growth. Your challenges as enviable badges of honor. Your beauty as beauty and potential as truth. Perspective and positivity come easy like a summer breeze. Who cares if your house is messy? Just because you lost your shit doesn’t mean you’re losing your shit. When you do something wrong, there’s always a next time. Certainly, you can handle anything.
I want to see me, the way I see you.