I’ve been reading a book, “The Whole Brained Child,” which examines brain development of children, the way our brains respond to stress, and how to turn navigate difficult situations by stimulating various parts of our brain. (It’s not as boring as you might think.) The book uses a fabulous model of how we can often find ourselves floating down the river of mental health, being pulled toward the opposing banks… one being filled with overwhelming chaos and emotion, and the other rigid logic. The authors are very lighthearted in discussing such heavy material, often pulling their own parenting experiences into the mix. One of my favorite sections so far has discussed that while all parents have different hopes and dreams for their children… ultimately, the common theme is that we all want our children do more than survive… as parents, we want our children to THRIVE.
Three years ago, my dad died. (I know it’s a cold and morbid word.. perhaps the worst of all four letter words… but for my own personal closure, I have to use this one. Feel free to replace this word with “left us,” which he would never do… “we lost him,” which infers we don’t know where he is – but we do… “passed away,” which makes me envision someone driving by my house on a bike and waving… “went home to his Heavenly Father,” which we do very much believe to be true and actually use the simplified version of, “went to live with Jesus,” with Munchie… but for my own recovery and closure… I have to use the “d” word.)
Those familiar with my story (thank you for letting me work through the trauma over so very many conversations, which I now realize were more therapeutic than I every could have imagined) are no stranger to the fact that (being 12 days away from becoming a mom) I felt overly logical in the midst of tragedy. I’ve always stuck to the idea that my body was trying to protect the little life growing inside of me… and now knowing that my other option was overwhelming chaos… I think my brain made the right call.
Through reliving the moments of that day… this day, three years ago… a million times in my mind and through countless conversations with friends, family, and therapists… I’ve ricochet between the banks of logic and emotional chaos… and I think I’m finally coasting along somewhere in the middle (occasionally drifting one way or another). Yes, grief is a horrific roller coaster of thoughts and emotions… and sometimes the most you can hope for is to survive without someone.
At this point, I’ve mostly accepting that while I truly (obviously) wish Dad were here to meet his grandchildren (who are freaking fabulous and brilliant and strong and perfect) and see his daughters as mothers (we’re trying our best and I think our best is pretty amazing), and the sons became part of this crazy family through marriage (because in-law doesn’t describe our family dynamic) being fathers and husbands (you guys are beyond marvelous) and his beloved wife as the best Gram that ever could be (seriously, she’s incredible), I’m content knowing he would be proud… so absolutely proud of how we’ve gone from simply surviving without him… to thriving in honor of him.