“the princess saves herself in this one”

Sometimes you read a book and that book has a line in it that really hits your soul. Today has been one of those days. I was home today with a migraine and spent part of the day when I wasn’t sleeping reading a book titled “the princess saves herself in this one” by Amanda Lovelace. I found this book at Target and it intrigued me because the cover is so basic. It’s black with white print and the title drew me to it. I couldn’t be happier that I got this book. Parts of it are hard to read, but the one line in particular that hit my soul was this: “i am caught between mourning you & thinking your death saved me. – will you ever be able to forgive me?”

I’ll explain while this hit my soul. In the years before my dad passed there were many times that he was in the hospital and especially in life threatening situations, he would often say that he did not deserve to have me as a daughter. There were even a couple of times that he told me I should leave him and not come back to the hospital. These are things I’ve never shared before. But as an only child and knowing how fragile life is, there was no way that I would ever turn my back in my dad. He was all I had and I would do everything all over again.

Last summer when dad was really sick and I had to stay home from work for three months with him being in and out of the hospital, he told me he didn’t want me to sit at home every weekend worrying about him. He wanted me to go out with friends. I did on occasion, but knew deep down that I probably didn’t have much time left with him, so I made it a point to make as many memories as I could with him and I’m so glad I did.

However, when I read the line in the book today I realized that yes, I’m still mourning and grieving my father, but I also feel like his death saved me. These are feelings that came to the surface today and hearing his voice and conversations we had over the last seven years. He often told me he felt guilty because I couldn’t go out and do what I wanted. There were certainly times deep down I resented that I didn’t have the life I imagined. The night my dad passed he was the most lucid I had seen him in days. When he told me it was time to go I broke down, but was lucky to spend the last hour of his life with him. Even while actively dying my dad was more concerned about if I would be okay. It wasn’t until he came out and asked how I was going to take care of myself without him and telling him family and friends would make sure that I would be okay, that he let the morphine make him comfortable and that he closed his eyes and was rocking his head to the beat of Elvis tunes. After he died and now that almost six months have passed since I lost him, I feel like his death has saved me as well. My dad knew that I would be okay. He raised me well and I’m finally living life. He still finds ways to show me he is here with me like in NY as I was walking back to the subway after the half marathon, seeing an ad for an Elvis special on HBO at a bus stop. I literally looked up from my phone when the ad changed and seeing Elvis made me smile. I know he’s with me. As crazy as it may sound I feel like he knew that his passing would save me as well. He knew the sacrifices I made after mom died, and everything I had to do for him.

In looking back at my life since 23, I’ve been through so much. As much as life may have sucked at certain points and dealing with some of the stuff I had to deal with, I know I’m a stronger person because of it. I know I can handle what life throws at me. I know I have fantastic tribe around me. I would not be even half the person I am today without all I’ve been through. Life’s lessons have a strange way of popping up at the most unexpected times in our lives, like picking up this book, and reading that line that really hit me. I’m still learning every day and growing as a person. That’s all we can do. Learn from what we’ve been through and use those experiences to reach out to others to help them. That’s part of why I started this blog. It’s evolving into not just my personal stories about being a caregiver, but about finally living life in the way my parents would have wanted me to live life.

Remember to take things one day at a time or even one hour or minute at a time if you have to. Be grateful for all of your experiences in life, good or bad. That’s part of why I started this blog to share what life was as like as a caregiver, but it’s evolved into so much more and I’m working on something to help get my readers more involved and a way  I can give back to all of you, so keep your eyes peeled for a post on that soon.

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Grieving…

Let me tell you, grieving is such a weird, yet in a way, beautiful state to be in. It’s difficult losing someone you love, but then at the same time, you get to share with other people how much that person meant to you, stories, memories, and pictures. I say this because I started an 8 week bereavement class last night through the hospitals hospice program. Last night was a lot of general stuff about what we would be doing the next seven Monday nights, but we also got to share a bit about our loved ones. This was difficult for all of us because we had to share who we lost, their name, and their date of death, but a lot of us shared other personal  things about our loved one to the rest of the group.

We have “homework” weekly, but it’s all to allow us to help heal. There is a book we are reading that has a journal go along with it called “Understanding Your Grief” by Alan Wolfelt. We are reading the introduction and first chapter this week along with bringing in no more than three pictures of our loved one(s) that we lost. To say I’m excited about this may sound strange, but being able to share my story and hear others and make unique connections with others who are going through similar situations as myself comforts me. I already know what three pictures I will be bringing in of my dad and I. All I need to do is get them printed off some place.

The first night was hard emotionally and also draining, but it’s also good to not bottle things up, which is part of why I’m blogging about my life as my dad’s caregiver and what I’m doing now that he’s gone. Life is an interesting journey and at some point we are all going to experience significant loss in our lives and at some point too we will pass. There were words of encouragement from the fall group that left me feeling like I was in the right place and need to see this through fully. I know no matter how much time passes there will be times that are harder than others and that’s life. I’m looking forward to seeing where this book and journaling will take me in my grieving process and when I’m ready to share that portion of my journey I will.

You always picture your life going a certain way and to have things in life go smoothly, but the truth is there are obstacles in the way. It’s how you deal with those obstacles that life throws at you that’s important. I never imagined I would be 30 and not have either parent still alive. They won’t have the chance to see me do so many more amazing things in my life, but I know while there were here they got to see me do some pretty awesome things and I know they were so proud of me. I’m taking this minute by minute and day by day. That’s all any of us can do in any situation in life. I’ve often heard it said that it’s no so much your start day in life (your birthday) and your end date (the day you pass) that’s important and that tell your story but it’s the dash in between those dates that make you who you are and truly tell your story, so go out there and make every day count no matter what your situation is. There’s a quite from the TV show Castle that my dad and I watched together while it was from the lead on the show Stana Katic (Detective Kate Beckett) that goes, “Even on the worst days there’s a possibility for joy”. Go out there and find something that makes you happy every day, even if  you are having a bad day.