Today marks the eleventh anniversary of my father’s death. While it’s always kind of an odd day, I do okay, overall, especially with more years passing since the original day my dad died. But it still hits me and makes me feel a bit funky. And I always make it a priority to honor him in my own way.
On this day, April 3, 2011, while I have a lot of work to do for my teaching job, I wear one of his Harley Davidson T-shirts, I’m writing this blog post, I’m working on writing the book that actually deals with my dad; and, later, I will crochet, watch the movie Elizabethtown (thank you, ma sista—a great, well-done movie dealing with the main character losing his dad and dealing with the planning and emotional journey to which I can so relate) and have a beer with dinner. I’ve also lit candles today for Dad. Overall, I’m keeping to myself today because I can.
Anniversaries are important days, whether they mark weddings, accidents, sobriety, deaths or our birthdays. I know that I need to officially commemorate important events like the anniversary of my father’s passing. It was a huge day for me back in 2000, a day that completely changed my life, both in positive and difficult ways. I was young (24-turning-25), I was stunned, and I was overwhelmed (with handling the estate, funeral and so forth).
Our body carries so many memories, and I’ve found in my own life and with others that more traumatic events definitely stay with us. As these anniversaries get closer, it’s amazing that even when we’re not focusing on or realizing the calendar day, our bodies know. For the last week, I’ve felt more fatigued, felt a bit more irritable and have had writing cravings. On a brighter note, my dad has been sending some signs he’s around more than usual, as well. A good Boulder friend has shared with me the cycles she’s witnessed in her adopted girls (ages seven and four), who have experienced much trauma in their lives; while my friend knows certain events and the actual dates, the girls don’t, yet my friend notices her girls “going through major stuff” around these significant times. While our society doesn’t always allow us to take off for certain days that may just be tougher in nature, it’s up to us to find ways of taking care of ourselves in the midst of needing a bit more tender-loving-care. Last year, for the tenth-year anniversary of my dad’s death, I spent the weekend in beautiful Buena Vista, CO, at a bed and breakfast with my dog, prioritizing hiking, writing and being.
Today I’ve received three calls and one e-mail message from loved ones simply expressing they’re thinking of me, which I appreciate so very much. Holidays, birthdays and anniversary days can be difficult to understand or even remember for many people, especially if they haven’t yet lost a parent or if the day is just not on their radar. Losing a parent is like joining a club (often unwillingly). Once you’re in the club, you get things that can’t be understood until experiencing the death of a parent—and not that I’d wish the latter on anyone, though we experience it at some point, of course. These death anniversaries just make me feel a bit more sensitive, but also closer to my father. While these days can be a little sad for anyone, I so encourage doing something that helps celebrate the person and helps us feel a little better and more peaceful—and remembering that the people we’ve physically lost really are always with us. Dad, I know you’re here, and I love you and miss you.