A new normal

I started this blog to share my cartoons and dork around with animations. It’s mostly an exercise in self-amusement. That said, there’s enough bad news and stress in our lives — if I can make someone else laugh as well, that’s my good deed for the day.

But this post isn’t going to be very amusing.

Dad died about 10 days ago, and his service was last weekend. For two months, my family somehow managed to integrate constant hospital vigils and medical consultations into our otherwise already packed schedules. The text thread between my sisters and me is seemingly endless, as we updated each other on the developments of the day. Did he have a good night? Which doctor stopped by and what did she say? Were the test results in yet? Who can cover the afternoon shift tomorrow? And so on. We lived our lives on alert, ready to be wherever we were needed, at any time.

As his health declined and the reality of the inevitable began to swim in my subconscious, lurking and biding its time, we pushed harder against Mother Nature. We earned amateur medical degrees online by searching for any untried procedure, any words of encouragement, any ray of hope. We learned that you had to be your own (often stern) advocate for care, because doctors are humans too. We read the prognosis, but we said it would not happen. Not now. Not this time. But as it will happen for each of, time was called on a wonderful life and an amazing man stepped into whatever, if anything, lies beyond.

Today is the first workday after the service — the first day his health, death and memorial service has not dominated our lives. And the world seems out of kilter. Everything looks the same — the traffic on my morning commute, the emails in my inbox, and the challenges and opportunities of my work. All there, just as they were before he got sick. But it’s not the same, is it? And it never will be again.

I didn’t see Dad every day. Often weeks (or longer) would pass between visits. But knowing he was in the world was just something I assumed to be true. A given. A fact that is not up for debate. He was always there, just as he had been for all of my 46 years, ready and willing to give of his time and talents to help our family, his church, and this community. It doesn’t seem right that he won’t be sitting in his chair when I stop by my parent’s house anymore. Or that his car will eventually be sold, never to sit in his driveway again. Or that he won’t call me again, to say whatever it is that was on his mind.

There’s a new normal, and I know we will all eventually adapt. Millions (billions, I suppose) of people have gone through this same experience, and I am not claiming special privilege. But all of the headlines in the news — Trump, ISIS, Cuba, the Supreme Court nomination — all seem so trivial to me today. Doesn’t the whole world feel this change? Shouldn’t this be the lead story? My Dad is gone. It seems like things should stop for just a bit longer. Just a bit.

I suppose this all sounds kind of sappy and “woe-is-me”-ish. I really do understand that we all go through the loss of a loved one, and for the most part, life will be okay again. I know my brand of suffering isn’t unique, and others have it worse. But feelings are feelings, and I still felt the need to put words to my thoughts today. At the moment, e-ha has only 39 people following, so I’m practically writing this to myself. Most of those are friends and family who knew Dad. For the others who signed up for cartoons and not lamentations, thank you for liking the page, and I promise to get back to some funnier stuff soon.

I just need to catch my breath, find my funny bone again, and get used to how things now are. Because everything is different now. Even the things that are the same.

Comments 15

  1. Each day will get a little more “New normal” and hours instead of minutes will pass when you are thinking about it. Guilt over laughing will pass. Something will trigger sadness out of the blue, but you will all be ok. I love you and thinking about you all.

    1. Post
      Author
  2. Geez Chuck, you have such a brilliant way of expressing everything I too was feeling yesterday and today. Yesterday, I decided it was all too much & stayed in my jammies and off social media……just to reflect. I too went back to work today and you nailed it….the world kept turning as normal. Dad beat alot of odds and seemed to have an endless supply of lives. So, it’s back to work and our new normal…..and oh yeah, social media. But I think he would be proud of all of us and maybe it was his way of cementing his family for years to come! Love, “your older sis”!

    1. Post
      Author
  3. So eloquently written about the experience of an adult children losing their parent over a period of time. It is a new normal. And their is a large hole in all of hearts that will be missing as we gave that portion to our parents. We truly have been blessed. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Post
      Author
    1. Post
      Author
    1. Post
      Author
  4. I could not have captured these thoughts any better. The thought of the empty lift chair, the belly laughs, and all the family gatherings and holidays without dad just makes the tears roll. I’m not really sure how we all made it through the last two months. I know we are not the first or last to lose a father or loved one and I keep telling myself to put those big girl pants on and move on. Just ain’t that easy! Something is missing. I’m gonna work on accepting and finding that new normal, but I don’t like it!

    1. Post
      Author
  5. Wow -Great post Chuck. You are not alone in how you feel. Your thoughts matched my and my siblings’ experiences when my dad was dying. But your and your sister’s feelings are still as unique and special as if you were the only ones to experience this because we are blessed with having only one dad. This week was the 10th anniversary of my dad’s passing after his unexpected and short 3-week illness at his young age of 77, and yes – the world outside did stop as us kids helped mom understand what the reality of the situation was, who was going to cover the hospital shifts, and what Dr.s we should listen to as their opinions differed in dad’s treatment, etc. Reading your experiences brought me right back to 2006…

    Chuck, your dad will always be with you. Probably more now than when he was alive. My dad was the parent I shared my professional successes and concerns with. I don’t have the ability to pick up the phone and call him with excitement or frustration. But instead, I will always have the gift of reflection and the peace in the relationship we had. When I miss my dad – and the moments crop up most unexpectedly – sometimes it hits me so hard I still want to cry – I just find a quiet spot, close my eyes or imagine as if he’s sitting beside me or on the phone, and I DO tell him what I want to tell him, and I imagine the advice he’d give me, how he’d say it, how sometimes I’d be frustrated with what he said (and smile a bit remembering that his advice was usually spot on), and then he’d always tell me that he’s proud of me in how I try to do the right things as he did in business.

    So my advice to you and your sisters —
    1. continue having those conversations with dad. Imagine what he’d say. No one has taken his spirit from your heart and mind.
    2. share what you’ve learned from your dad with your kids that maybe you normally would not have when he was still alive. Keep grandpa in the conversations as hard as it is right now. It’s ok to sit in his chair and laugh with the kids about new stupid stuff — so they know that just because someone is physically gone, they are still with us and we can continue to embrace the things (chair) that dad used in our lives today.
    3. it’s ok to break down and cry in front of others, especially your kids, when you miss him at the weirdest times. Kids need to see their parent’s be strong — and being strong also includes being authentic and real and vulnerable. Remember – it’s not waiting for the storm to pass, but learning how to dance in the rain. Don’t cover up your struggles in this storm of your new normal missing dad. Teach your kids that it’s ok to not know what to do, and it’s ok to show your emotions as you rely on each other to manage through – but show them how to dance in this rainy period and future rain showers in a healthy yet transparent way.
    4. Make every moment with mom important and special. As we know – life is short so make the most of every moment – especially with her. Even when teaching her what she now has to do that dad used to do, tell her how proud you are of her in how she’s learning and also finding her new norm which will take much longer than ours as we still have our kids that we’re raising. Tell her often that you love her, or write it if you’re not communicative with words. She needs it now more than ever.
    5. Be grateful. Be thankful for what your dad gave and imparted that you may have never realized that he did until he was gone. be grateful for your wonderful relationship with your siblings. Be grateful for your mom. And be grateful for the years of oppties you have to make memories and build your own legacy with your kids.

    Geez — didn’t mean to ramble. But this was an emotional week for me too in many ways. Just wanted to share my thoughts — I’m just an older co-worker who cares and thinks you’re the BEST communications leader we’ve ever had — so therefore I so value and appreciate all your parents did to mold you into the great person that you are and that we benefit from today 🙂 —– Janet

  6. Post
    Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *