“It’s a really weird feeling when you lose a parent”. My dad used to say that to me after his mother and father passed away. “It’s a really weird feeling”. At the time, I could not relate at all. I was sure that he was right, but I just couldn’t imagine my life without my mom or dad. Until this summer.
My dad had been sick for a very long time – most of my life, if we’re being honest. I can’t even remember a time when he wasn’t sick. And for a long time, it was one of those “invisible diseases” where you could not see outward symptoms, so a lot of people didn’t take it seriously. I remember seeing my dad struggle with certain things because of his joint pain (and more recently, severe illness as a result of his disease), and people looking at him like he was crazy. Because they didn’t understand. They didn’t realize that even though something might look like a simple task, it was excruciatingly painful for him. Even those of us who knew him best could not completely stand just how bad his pain and sickness was, since we were not living in his body. (So, next time you come across anyone who has Rheumatoid Arthritis, or even just someone that seems to be struggling with some kind of invisible disease … do your best to be kind, be helpful, and realize that it is serious business.)
They say that Rheumatoid Arthritis can take 10-15 years off of a person’s life. I always knew this, but I just didn’t really think it could happen to my dad. Until it did.
I got married a week and a half before … and I got a call from my mom while on my honeymoon that he was gone. In that exact moment, I finally understood what Dad was talking about. It is a weird feeling to lose a parent. Its weird how some days I can talk about him with a smile on my face, and other days I cant even bring myself to open my mouth because I know I’ll start crying as soon as I try. Its weird how I always used to go to Dad with problems, or for work advice, or help with my car … and now I have to figure things out on my own. Its weird how after our washer broke this summer, I instinctively grabbed my phone to call my Dad … only to get to his voicemail and realize “oh my gosh, what am I doing……he’s not there……” like a punch in the stomach. Its weird to think that when we have children, they will never know their grandpa.
Its scary to think about the upcoming holidays, too. I’m not ready to spend them without my dad. I’m not ready for my first Christmas without him trying to convince my mom to let us open our presents on Christmas Eve, instead of waiting until the morning. I’m not ready for a Thanksgiving dinner without him saying “I’m never eating again!” after stuffing himself with turkey, only to turn to my mom and say “where’s the pie?”. I’m not ready for any of it.
It’s a really weird feeling.