December 13, 2014

In Pieces

Two weeks ago today was my father's birthday.  He would have been 74.  That would make it 12 birthdays that he has been gone from us now.

I spent his birthday cuddled in front of a fireplace at our cabin wrapped in my favorite quilt which is pieced with the fabric of all of his shirts.  So many memories flood my mind when I look at those quilt pieces.  I see him mowing the lawn in the light plaid shirt, I see him sitting behind his computer in the blue plaid one, I see him carving the turkey with the collar of the red plaid one poking out from under a sweater.  He had a very plaid themed wardrobe and that very plaid quilt is a memory of all of the pieces of his life.

I miss him terribly.  I wish he was here to support and love me through this special journey.  He would have been an awesome special grandpa.  He would have lifted and hauled in the moments that my back can't lift another 70 pounds.  He would have patted my back and given me an " 'atta girl" in the times I feel so alone.  He would have loved Bridger so tenderly and got him laughing through his frustrating challenges.  He would have told me that I am doing wonderfully well.

He would have done all of that and more, if he was here.  

And yet, I have felt that he is here, doing all of that - in pieces.

I had a precious moment with my father a couple weeks before his passing.  It is an experience that holds a place in the most sacred chamber of my heart.  My father was in the hospital healing from his unsuccessful operation to remove a malignant tumor webbed through his brain tissue. Knowing my father's prognosis, many friends and family came to extend their love to my father. I had precious little time alone with him during the time from his diagnosis until his death.  In a rare moment of time alone, I sat by his hospital bedside.  I had just held a tray for him to vomit in - a side effect from the chemo treatment he was enduring at the time.  He missed the tray, and I caught it instead.  We both had a chuckle about that and then I promptly ran to the bathroom next to his bed to throw up myself, as I was 10 weeks into my second pregnancy and well into my first trimester of "morning" sickness.  I returned to his bed and held his hand and we looked at each other.  My heart was hurting and I told him I had two worries.  He asked what they were.  Through my tears I told him that I first worried about Mom, that she would be lonely.  And that second, I worried that he was scared.  He could choke back his tears no longer and he squeezed my hand and looked at me through wet eyes.  He didn't address my first concern, but with absolute assurance told me that he was not afraid, to which he added that he was just really going to miss me.  After he said those words he could no longer speak.  When I could find the breath between my sobs, I asked him if he would check in on me often.  He looked straight at me, and in a voice raspy from a large lump in his throat said, "I promise I will."  

We hugged and cried together until just a few minutes later another friend entered that hospital room to visit and that special moment between my father and I would be relegated to being a memory engraved on my heart.

I wish I could have one of those moments where I look at a rainbow and feel a gust of wind and hear my father's voice in my head.  But that hasn't happened.  I feel him watching over me in other ways. I feel his " 'atta girl" when one of my dad's old friends sends me a special message or simply "likes" one of my Facebook posts.  I feel his strength he is sending me through the hugs I receive from my uncle Bill, his brother, who hugs just like my dad did with his stocky broad shoulders.  I think my dad might have had a special hand in sending Eliza to our family, who gets Bridger laughing and smiling the way my dad would have if he was here.

Through those simple ways and others, I think my dad is checking in on me as he said he would.  I just feel it in little pieces.