I am forever eternally grateful that I listened to my heart and still was in Tucson, and not in LA, when my father suddenly took his last breath. Dad was my entire family on his side of the family. Gently, yet tightly, I held him as I looked at him with his perfect haircut he had just the day before. I carefully, gently, slid my hand underneath the back of his neck and shoulders so I could hold him for as long as I needed – no one would dare ask me to let go of my dad. I intuitively knew that he could still feel my love, protection and admiration. My tears, endless, as I softly spoke into his ear, “You did good Dad. I’m so sorry that you were sick. I understand that you were sick. You did good – please know that. Please know that I understand. Know you are incredibly brave, strong and sensitive to my feelings all in the same moment… I love you Dad… You did good. You did a good job raising me and my brother. You were the original full-time single dad and you did a good job on your own with out help. God is with us.”…. As I slowly lifted my head off of the crook of my father’s neck, one of my gigantic tears had dropped to the inside of my glasses. Ironically, my vision blurred. So hard to focus. To take it all in. The moment important. The pain unbearable. My dad so handsome. His features resembling my grandmother so much that, momentarily, it startled me.
My heart has been so painfully broken since that morning on February 20th, 2014, that I am worried that I will never be my self again. It has been 3 and a half months and it seems I have lost my true voice. The voice I hear is not the old Julie I once knew. I don’t like to talk on the phone. I don’t like to talk to people when I go out side. My body continues to decline from chronic pain and bone crushing fatigue.
What I especially don’t like or appreciate is, on the 9th day after my father passed and I saw him for the last time, I was coldly, cruelly and bluntly greeted with being told I must now get out of my home of 5 years. Who was this self-seeking self-loathing mean old woman who believes her own life of lies? The impostor drill sergeant stepping on landmines waiting to explode in the depth of her self imposed victim’s pot of poison – orders screamed with ugly eyes of misplaced rage and envy, a block of black ice where a heart never ever was to begin with. Was it blood that I witnessed dripping from the black crevices of her empty soul? A clearly planned betrayal with the absurd transparent demand to immediately give up my familiar surroundings upon my return from Tucson and to say good bye to my many neighbors who had become my supportive friends. I especially don’t like that I was forced to move away from my precious, precious little neighbor-friend Emma, who, once a week for 2 years, helped me with chores I had become physically unable to do myself.
I don’t like that the majority of my belongings, my few pieces of furniture, my comforting photographs, my old books of recovery I’ve read over & over for 27 years, sentimental knickknacks and all my clothes except for the suitcase I packed in my haste, are all in storage somewhere, I do not know where, but in Northern California somewhere, while I find myself suddenly living in my refuge, my safe haven, in my father’s guest room in Tucson Arizona. Along with my cat and my father’s 12 year old cat.
Now is the time. Now is the time that I have been given. The opportunity to find out just what I am made of. How deep does my courage run? How strong is my faith? Will my love and belief carry me though this time? Am I steadfast and true as I allow God to continue to lead my way? I continue to demand that my voice be heard. My vision is still as blurry as the morning my tear drop landed on the inside of my glasses as I leaned to hug & kiss my father goodbye…
I become mindful of my father’s words to me when I was a young teenager. We were back packing the switch backs up a particularly steep mountain in the High Sierras. I was looking up and feeling defeated as I was taken in by the gigantic mountain that was still in front of me. It was looking down on me, daring me to come closer. I did not like not knowing how much further I had to push myself before my father set up camp for the night. Exhausted I stopped and reached for my canteen that my father had hooked on my belt for me hours earlier. Being acutely aware, my father gently held my shoulders and said, “Turn around Julie, and see how far you’ve come.” As I turned, with my father’s hand guiding me, I looked down behind me at the path we had just climbed. I was overwhelmed by the dense beauty of the vast Sierra. The view before me was breathtaking and magnificent. And it felt good. I had done good and my father was able to prove it to me… Today I can turn around again, and see just how far I’ve come from LA. It was not in my best interest to remain in my home – because home is where the heart is. No heart to be found there. I do not need to double check this lesson from long ago. This stage of this journey of mine remains in God’s hands. And His plan is too brilliant for me to see right now. I look forward to that day when I will once more “turn around and see how far I’ve come”.
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