Today marks the two year "anniversary" of my Dad passing away. I cannot believe it's been two years already. I have changed a lot over the last two years, probably not all for the best. Sean reminds me often that it's okay if things change. Life throws certain experiences at us all, and shapes us into the person that we are today.
I don't know if everyone around me would agree, but I think I'm doing a lot better than I was at this time last year. Just to see if my suspicions were accurate, I read over my blog post from last year at this time. Oh.my.gosh., what a basket-case I was. I'm sorry for anyone who was subject to reading that entry. Maybe that's why we're encouraged to keep journals though, so we can see how far we've come, and look back (sometimes with disbelief) at what we were going through at that time. At this point, pretty much everyone knows I'm a crier, so it's no surprise that I started crying reading my past entry. It was depressing reading how sad and down I really was last year. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was "the first year" and everything last year was the "first time" for all these type of anniversaries, for lack of a better word. The first birthday, first Christmas, first Thanksgiving, and so on. Everyone who I had consoled in who had previously lost someone close to them as I had, kept telling me how hard it was going to be...so in a way I was almost psyching myself out for it. As in, I didn't really know what to expect, so I was just assuming it was going to be terrible and the 'worst day ever'. And maybe because I thought it was going to be, it in fact was an awful day. So with the first year or so behind me, there is no where to go but forward.
This year I was back at my old job, at Loftus Family Dentistry, and only had to see three patients. We had the Southwest Dental Conference this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so all of us left for that after only seeing a few patients. Initially I had negative association with certain places or events that reminded me of my Dad, the dental convention being one, but now I just think of them as another way that he is always with me. I'm not going to lie and pretend that every time it's all rainbows and butterflies, probably half of the time it still makes me sad and miss him, but I'm at least able to have some positive experiences sometimes, knowing that so many of the things that remind me of him is another way he is constantly with me.
Just like last year, I wrote the date a lot at work, knowing very well what today symbolized. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was feeling at work, just trying to stay busy with my patients, and focus on work. Then I had about a 30 minute break where I was just sitting around doing nothing, and my thoughts got the best of me. I cried for a little while in my operatory, wishing he was still here, but still remembering he is in a better place. I had a little selfish time where I was upset that I didn't have him for longer, but remembered what one of my dear family friends had said at the time of his passing...she had gone on and on about how my Dad was such a wonderful Father, that everyone knew he loved us so very much. He was very involved in our lives, and always let us know that we were the most important thing to him, and did everything possible to give us a wonderful life. She commented how when her father died later in her life it was a completely different experience, he was a terrible father who had alcohol problems and was physically abusive and because of that none of her family had a good relationship with him. She told me that even though she had him for 'longer', it didn't matter because he wasn't a good father. She explained that many people don't have a father like I did, and that I was lucky to have him for the 24 years that I did. She said she would have rather had a father like mine for a shorter period of time, than have someone for longer who only made her sad. Thinking of that experience reminded me of what a blessed childhood I really did have, and gave me the pick-up I needed to get through the rest of my patients.
As I was leaving to go down to Dallas for the dental conference, my boss Dr. Loftus asked me if I was okay, that he could tell I was a little off. I told him I was doing all right, but that it was the day my Dad passed away two years ago, so that I wasn't feeling 100%, but that I was hanging in there. Right away he switched into Dad mode, it's funny when he does that. He gave me some good advice, which was sweet of him. He told me that he knew my Dad would be really proud of me, and for all that Sean and I have accomplished, that as a Father he knew I was doing what was right. He could tell that I was doing better than this time two years ago, which did make me feel a little better.
After I left Sean I finally had to go to the Dental Conference, womp womp. Let's just make one thing clear, I HATE going to the convention every year. I hated it in school, I hate it now, it's just terrible. Maybe I'll like going in 30 years when everything is 'breaking edge technology' to me, but probably not even then. For those of you who don't know, it's basically a weekend long nerd fest. All day long they have classes and seminars about dentistry. It's worse than school. All you do is sit in classes for hours at a time, listening to Dentists and Hygienists lecture...kill me now. God bless smartphones, who even knows what I did in the classes before them. So obviously, I wasn't looking forward to going. I pulled into the parking lot where I always park each year (I'm a creature of habit) when I remembered what I was doing two years today. My Mom had told me the night before that my Dad wasn't going to make it, and that we needed to come home so we could all be there to take him off life support. It was in that parking lot where my Mom put me on the phone with my Dad who was in a coma, as my Mom held the phone up to his ear while I talked to him. The doctors all said that this was pointless, that there was no way he could hear or understand anything. I poured my heart out to my Dad, telling him how much I loved him, and how sorry I was that I wasn't there. I told him how lucky I was to be his daughter, and that I hoped that I had made him proud of me. My Mom told me later that his eyes were blinking like crazy when I was talking to him, that he had more activity than he had the entire time he was in a coma, and that she knew for certain he could hear me and understand what I was saying. As I sat there in the parking lot today, I was flooded with these memories. But I didn't break down, I just thought about him, and how I still feel lucky to be his daughter, and then headed into the conference.
My classes were kind of a blur, at that point I was just going through the motions. I thought of my Dad going to his continuing education classes, and how I must be related to him because we both hated them. :)
Sean was surprised that I had made plans for the evening. I made a hair appointment with our friend Holly, and then Sean was going to come over to their house too and we were all going to have pizza together. I told him that I didn't want to just sit around wallowing in my sorrows like last year, that I really wanted to be with Daniel, but he had to work, so I might as well be with friends. Daniel and I are going to hang out tomorrow and go to our favorite restaurant, B.J.'s, like we did last year. As I was driving home from Dallas I thought about him a lot, and how he was doing during the day. When I got home I found this on my doorstep...
It was from my visiting teachers K.C. and Lindsay, who I've also become friends with since we've moved into the ward. They're both such sweet girls, and it was really sweet of them to think of me. I truly do have such amazing friends.
I had a few minutes before I had to head over to Holly's house, while I sat there eating my feelings with these delicious cupcakes and thinking about my Dad. I truly believe that he watches over me, and helps me from the other side. I think he would want me to try and stay busy, to not wallow and cry all day. But to have him on my mind, and remember him throughout the day. So, off to Holly's I went. She did a great job on my hair, then we had dinner, and played around with their sweet kids. We got home just in time to spend some time with Daniel, and then we went to bed.
All in all, I'm pretty proud of myself. I definitely had a few break downs, but I think I did a lot better than last year. I got some good advice from my friend Starlyn that I used to work with at Willowbend. She told me that it doesn't ever get easier, and anyone who says it does is a liar. You're always going to miss him, if you love him then you'll miss him. You won't miss him any less than the day that he died. She said that you just learn to manage it better over time. I completely agree with her. I miss him so so very much, so much that it hurts. But I honestly think I have gotten a little better at managing it. I realize I still have a long ways to go until I'm perfect, but I feel like I have come a long way in the last two years.
I was looking through some old pictures of my Dad and came across these. This was from February of 2008, when Sean and I were engaged. Growing up my Dad took my brothers and I skiing every President's Day weekend since I was 6 years old. I have so many wonderful memories of my Dad and I on the slopes skiing together. He patiently taught all five of us to ski over the years, and to this day it's one of my favorite things to do in Utah. This was one of the last times we went skiing together, and I will always remember his love for the sport and the mountains. My brothers and I have talked about doing a mini ski trip reunion in the future, carrying on our Dad's tradition.
Missing you like always Dad, and remembering you today.
Love you Dad, xoxo.