Thursday, November 15, 2007

My How We've Grown: For my sisters

10 years ago we lost one of the two most influential people in our lives up to that point. We were all in different chapters of our life: teenagers, early adulthood, high school, college…. We each experienced Dad’s death in a profoundly personal way – to such a degree that sometimes our familial bonds did not seem to help us in dealing with the grief, loss, confusion, even relief… The time before, and the time following Dad’s passing is a time in each of our lives where we learned to come to terms with mortality in a way that few people our age(s) have had to endure. Seeing death and dying in someone you are so close to can only change you forever.

We are all different from one another to this day, but it seems now that the grief and sorrow that felt so personal then, are something that we share now. We each have our own feelings and memories of dad and his passing. Something personal remains, yet I know that all four of us know what it is like to lose someone of that magnitude at such a young age. This commonality exists- even though I cannot understand what is like to lose a father when in high school, and you may not be able to understand what it’s like to lose a father when you’ve just begun to understand how to love him, for the first time, as a young adult.

What really strikes me today, though, is that we have hit 10 years. 10 years of life without Dad. Sometimes, I wish I could just call him up and ask him for some financial advice or bug him to come take me out for breakfast b/c it’s been so long. I wish I could have seen the look on his face when I told him I got a full ride to grad school, and I wish he knew how happy I am now that I’m with the one I love and we’re going to have a baby. How proud would he be of all of us? That we managed to grow up and buy houses, choose careers and start families? He’s missed out on quite a bit, and we’ve missed out on the chance to share it with him.

Over the course of 10 years, I have forgotten things I never wanted to forget about him, but I also now have happier memories. I remember the loud music on the boat, and riding out to see the sunsets on Lake Michigan. I remember how much he loved being in the sun, and how summer always seemed to be a happy time for our family. I recall walking the streets of Chicago, as Dad pointed and explained tall buildings as he marveled at the engineering success of the human race. I remember the Platter, playing sugar football. I remember attending homecoming games and listening to him explain the rules of football to me every year – I loved it; I loved his attention. Dad was far from perfect, and I haven’t forgotten those things, but I enjoy the good memories now for what they are: good memories.

I’m also thankful to him for giving me an important piece of myself. I am driven. I like to get things done; I like to succeed. I know I can figure out how to win, eventually, as all good wins take time. I accomplish lots of things, far more than most, and this energy, I believe, is something I learned or somehow inherited from him. It is a core piece of who I am, and I am thankful for it. All four of us have a piece of this in us as we are all busy accomplishing life every day, every year.

I cannot help but wonder what it would be like if he visited, for just a day. What would he say? Would he see us as we really are? My, how we’ve changed since he last saw us! He would have to see that we’ve grown up; we’re no longer just his four little girls. We’re all women now. Then, we were so much younger, still in school, and none of us had met who we were to choose as life partners. Now, we are still in different stages of our lives, but things have changed remarkably: paying our own bills, college degrees, masters degrees, love, weddings, marriage, first houses, living in different states and cities, dogs, children, pregnancies, new jobs, and so much more to come. We are grown up. We are still growing as individuals, as adults, as women, as a family. I can’t believe that Dad has missed all of this. I can’t believe it has been 10 years. I think, though, that if he were to visit, he would beam with pride at how we’ve turned out. How each of his “girls” has grown.

This song has been spinning in my head for weeks now. I think it’s what he would say to us if he were to come back and see us. I think he would be sad to have missed how much we’ve grown, and sad that he won’t see us as we continue to do so as the years go by.

Natalie Merchant/ Christian Burial Music © 1992
"my, how you've grown"
I remember that phrase
from my childhood days too

"just wait and see"
I remember those words
and how they chided me

when patient was the hardest thing to be

because we can't make up for the time that we've lost
I must let these memories provide
no little girl can stop her world to wait for me

I should have known
at your age, in a string of days the year is gone
but in that space of time it takes so long

because we can't make up for the time that we've lost
I must let those memories provide
no little girl can stop her world to wait for me

every time we say goodbye
you're frozen in my mind
as the child that you never will be
you never will be again

I'll never be more to you than a stranger could be

every time we say goodbye
you're frozen in my mind
as a child that you never will be
will be again

Dad, you’ve missed quite a bit in the last 10 years, but we are all doing well. We are happy, healthy, and pursuing our lives to the fullest. We are in love, and we are all grown up with adult lives: houses, families, and plans for the future. We’re not your little girls anymore, except in memories, which is where you live within each of us.


Erin said...

I will be thinking about all of you today. You are all amazing women and he would be so proud to see how you have grown. I'm grateful to have each one of you as a sister. Love yas!

Erin said...

errr...and one of you as a wife!

kwillmetta said...

Yes, ten years is hard. I'll be thinking about you and your sisters today. For my family the day is May 4th. We don't discuss it before hand, but at some point during the day, doing something mundane, it will hit me. My father has been gone for "X" years. I'll look down and discover I wore black without thinking. Later, I'll get a call from my sister, and she always says, "Do you know what day it is?" Of course I do.

When I was 33, I was shocked to realize he had not been here for two thirds of my life.... I commented about this realization to a friend of mine, forgetting she had lost her mother as a teenager. "It never stops," she said. "Each year you think of things they missed, never got to know. And as you grow to be older then he was, it will hit you in a different way." And she is right. This year has been hard, being as old as he was when he died. Thirty-eight has seemed so old when I was eleven, but now.omg how young he was... Next March I will be older than my father ever was, and I find myself shaken at the mere idea.

Be strong and happy this day. He has so much to be proud of.


calliope said...

what a beautiful, beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully poignant and heartfelt tribute to your dad, your sisters and yourself. You are all amazing women that any father would be proud of. I just think he does check in on you and knows how you are doing….he is proud of all of you! - From an e-mail from Mom

Keri said...

What a lovely tribute to your father.
Wishing all of you peace today.

sandra said...

You just made me cry.

Alissa said...

What a beautiful post. You are all in my thoughts today.

Melissa said...

Thank you so much for sharing. My dad passed away 5 years ago so your post really touched me.

Bryan said...

As I sat here reading, with tears welling up for the loss that you all have experienced, what troubles me most is that I was not able to see you all interact with your father. I would have loved to have to win his approval prior to marrying Katie :) or discussing sports or other things that I would have done with my father-in-law. Even though I have not had to endure such a loss, this day reminds me that she has. I love you all and I know that he would have approved of all of us SIG-O's

Bryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

that was really beautiful. Your post definitely made me cry. It is amazing how 10 yrs has seemingly affected me so much more than any of the years previous.
Thank you for putting those thoughts out there.

-Sister Katie via e-mail

tbean said...

What a beautiful post.
It really touched me--I just celebrated the 10 year anniversary of my uncle's passing on Sunday. He was killed in an accident and my cousins were quite young. 10 years seems like such a long time and yet, you never stop being in shock, in a way.

Thanks for your support and encouragement over at Baby Steps, btw!

jay said...

definitely crying here too. beautiful post. i know what it's like to lose a parent. hugs. xx

vee said...

What a beautiful, moving post. So sorry you've had to be without him in this world for so long.

Anonymous said...

I too am thinking of you and your family today. I'm sure your dad would be very proud - you all turned out wonderfully. Four happy and healthy women - what more could you ask for! ~Carolyn

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Thank you for phrasing this so beautifully. I laughed at your memories of him because some of them are the same as my memories of him...10 years, can you believe that?!...10 years, wow...

love you,
love, Patti

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Sara. It was really comforting to have my feelings articulated for me yesterday. I don't know what else to say. I'll call you later. I love you.

K J and the kids said...

I like to think that your dad has been with you every day for the last 10 years. Watching you grow and probably wishing he could take you to breakfast :)
I hope this day brings you peace.

j.k-c. said...

What a beautiful post.
I, also, have lost my dad (6 1/2 years ago). I always say it is the club you don't want to be a member of, but are glad there is a club.
I also think that siblings are so important...they are the only other people in the world to know what it is like to have your parents as parents...even when you have different experiences.
Peace to you and your family.

ohchicken said...

this is a beautiful tribute to your father, an eloquent expression of grief and time and family. i lost my father 10 years ago as well, and in all my wordlessness, you found the words to say. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Your tribute to your father (and in many respects a tribute to your sisters and you) touched my heart. He does know about and does take pride in all of your journies. Look for those times when his spirit surrounds and touches you....sometimes the touch is so light that it is just a hint of his encouragement, his connection, and most certainly his love. Very best wishes and love to you all. Jim

Kim said...

What a touching post.

You and your sisters are in my thoughts.

tiffany said...

I have to admit the tears welling up in my eyes reading that post.

I'm sure he would be very proud of you reading those heartfelt words.

CD & SP said...

after reading erin's post about her mother, and then yours about your dad i am just floored at the strength you two have, and the courage you obviously give each other to live out each day like your parents would liked to have seen you do. you are amazing! much peace to you, erin, and your family this upcoming holiday.