Papa

08/15/2011 · 154 comments

in I'm not funny here.

I have a picture of you on my windowsill. You’re holding me when I was a baby, and blessedly, you don’t look very ill. Somedays I can look at it without an ounce of sadness. But lately–I can’t bring myself to look.

People will tell you that grief and loss are something you recover from.

You’re sad for a while, angry, but then you forget and get better. There’s casseroles and flowers, and in exchange, you act like everything is status quo.

More than 20 years later I’m still feeling…incomplete. I feel like a freak; everyone else can move on, so why not me?

I’m the one left with the tears.
I’m the one who didn’t understand goodbye.
I’m the one who has so many questions.

Try as I might I’ll never be able to hear the answers from you.

Who were you?
Were you afraid?
Were you angry at your brother and father?

Are you proud of us?

Grace, as you always knew, is an overachieving dynamo. I honestly don’t think that there’s anything that can stop her. I’ve finally learned to not be jealous of the time she spent with you–no one wanted you to go.

You’d be so proud of her.

Mom is finally happy again, and I think this may be the first time that’s really been the case since you died in 1990. She did a damn good job with us. It’s time she finally gets the chance to live the life she wanted.

She’s now the person she always was with you, but that I never got to know.

You’d be so proud of her.

I’m trying to be funny for a living, and I’m doing okay.

You’d really love Adrian. Mom and Grace tell me he dresses just like you used to. He’s also a killer entrepreneur–just like you. The irony of marrying someone who’s a lot like you–when I never really knew you at all–is not lost on me.

They tell me that I look exactly like you. When your family sees me, they only see a ghost where I stand. It’s hard for me to tell from pictures, and I can no longer see your face in my few memories.

I hope you’d be proud of me.

When everything in all of our lives is going well–we’re all happy and complete–this is when I miss you the most.

And it makes me sick that I’ll never get to know you beyond what others remember about you. Their words are foreign–their memories tend to mean very little because it wasn’t you who gave them to me.

I have fading memories from a time which should have long ago disappeared from my mind.
I have a goodbye letter you wrote me from before you ever got to know me.
I have mementos and photos and memories and family.

But I’ll never have you.

I’ve learned that grief over someone you love doesn’t mean you move on, only move forward. Your heart will always hurt with the memories (or lack) of that person, and you simply learn to keep walking forward.

It never gets better. It only gets easier to deal with.

I miss you, Papa.

Have you ever lost anyone close to you? How do you deal with it?

Favorite Comment From The Last Post:
From Leslie: “Sometimes when I am in a public place I rarely frequent I will wait in front a row of empty stalls until someone vacates the ONE stall that is in use and then I will rush into that one. I sit in there and try to inaudibly laugh because I know that person is Freaked The Fuck Out. It’s a game I play to see if they are too freaked for hygiene – will they or won’t they leave without washing their hands? Your posts give me a similar joy.”

 

{ 151 comments… read them below or add one }

carrien (she laughs at the days) August 15, 2011 at 1:46 am

This. This is poignant and real and very brave of you to write.

“I’ve learned that grief over someone you love doesn’t mean you move on, only move forward. Your heart will always hurt with the memories (or lack) of that person, and you simply learn to keep walking forward.”

These words are very wise, and very true. When my great grandmother died I tended to fixate on the ways I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye at the funeral, rather than on the grief itself, like I needed an excuse to be sad. Weird, I know.

When I had a miscarriage… well, I learned to move forward eventually, and the distance gained makes it a little more numb. A little.

Hugs friend. I hope writing this helped.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Thank you for your support, Carrien. You are probably the nicest person I have ever known–I hope time helps continue to numb your wounds.

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Justin August 15, 2011 at 2:42 am

I don’t think I would ever have the stones to write something this personal and real. I had a sibling pass away when I was very young and I can connect to a lot of this on a strange level…but you’ve done something here I’m simply not capable of. Which makes me kind of sad…and even though I don’t know you, based on what I’ve read here, it makes me proud that you are able and gives me something to work toward.

Thanks, Noa…
Justin recently posted..Yeah, I Didn’t Die

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I don’t have the words to respond to you, which is weird considering you complimented my writing.

Loss is not easy, but I can promise you that writing about pain can be incredibly cathartic. I hope you get to experience that as well.

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Jackie August 15, 2011 at 3:49 am

I’m stunned. Speechless. Fighting tears even. This is excruciatingly beautiful (it’s a compliment, I promise), and I want to say more about it but I just don’t have the words.
I lost my own dad – the story is quite different but with eerily similar emotion. I know the loneliness, the emptiness, and the lack of real memories. It was the hardest loss I’ve had to face, and I don’t even know how I’ve come this far past it. I’ve written pages just trying to sort it all out.
“I’m the one left with the tears.
I’m the one who didn’t understand goodbye.
I’m the one who has so many questions.
Try as I might I’ll never be able to hear the answers from you.”
Yes. Just…yes. Thank you for posting this.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm

There’s no benchmarks for loss after the “grief period.” Once you’re in ‘acceptance,’ you assume everything is going to be okay, but when you’re still so sad, it can be difficult to process.

Thank you for your comment–it means more than you know.

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wagthedad August 15, 2011 at 6:38 am

This is a very heartwarming and sad post. Thanks for sharing it with us, Noa.

My first son, Jake, died when he was 6 months old, of a vaccination reaction. While he was dying, we were interrogated by the police because the district attorney was thinking about pressing charges against us for murdering him. His brain had swelled, and since no one would ever consider a vaccine reaction as a possibility, they decided we must have been beating him.

To make matters worse, it was the therapist at the hospital we had spoken to about his impending death (it took him 5 days to die) who actually turned us in to the district attorney, because she felt that we weren’t grieving properly, and therefore must in some way be at fault for our son’s death.

We were at fault, actually. We didn’t do enough research about vaccines before we allowed the doctor to give them to him.

After all of this, we discovered that our every move and statement was being documented by doctor, nurses, other hospital staff, etc. A doctor even tried to help the police by trying to convince us that we must have done something bad to our son.

We were lucky enough to get a good lawyer who was able to stop the process and clear our names before it actually came to a court situation, or even any formal charges, but it basically destroyed any faith I had left in the system. Ironically enough, the only people who actually did their jobs were the police officers. They were also the nicest.

Jake’s death brought me closer to my family but it also distanced me in a sense from my humanity. I can’t really explain that other than to say that all of those things that seemed so important are gone, which is good, because mainly they’re the things you shouldn’t worry about, but then there are other things that are severely lacking in me that I think should be there. As in, I just don’t give a shit about a lot of things I should give a shit about.

How do you deal with it? I think that you said it best, Noa:

“Your heart will always hurt with the memories (or lack) of that person, and you simply learn to keep walking forward.”

The pain never goes away. You can take the edge off it, you can find ways to escape it momentarily, but it is always there. It’s supposed to be. It reminds us of what’s important. But I keep walking forward because of my kids, and because fuck giving up.

That’s about it. That’s my story. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell it.
wagthedad recently posted..When You Have a Baby, It’s Important to Bitch All The Time About How Tired You Are

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Lilscorpiosweet August 15, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Shane,

Your story is just as heart breaking as Noa’s is and it takes a strong person to share their grief let alone publicly announce it on a forum. My heart goes out to your family.

I agree that the pain never goes away. While I haven’t had anyone close to me pass I have had animals that were and I want to equate it but I know that its not the same. It does hurt and I think about them all the time. I have had friends tell me that it gets harder as the years go on because of the lack of making memories with that person and then remembering only fragments of what memories you do have.

I have been the rock for many people I was around when they lost someone close to them and all I could think of at the time was I am glad it isn’t me. One day my day will come when I lose someone close to me and I hope I have the strength that you all seem to have and continue moving on with my life. I also hope I have someone there that will be my rock.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Lil,

I can attest to the fact that it can be just as sad to let animals go. Adrian had a dog for–not joking–21 years, and he still has a hard time talking about it. He held his childhood dog in his arms while they put him to sleep. Even though it was his time, and Adrian was an adult, it was horrible.

I hope your experience in helping stand by other people helps you one day–and I’m so glad you haven’t had to deal with it yet.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Shane,

I can’t imagine what you and your wife went through during that. It sickens me that your period of worry and grief and loss was marred with such horrific accusations. My father passed after being ill for a very long time–everyone knew it was coming, so it burned a little less, I think. You never got that, and I hate that for you. But, you said it best–FUCK giving up. There’s no room for that shit in life.

Thank you for telling your story.

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hoodyhoo August 15, 2011 at 6:50 am

Every day you amaze me more and more. Thank you so much for sharing this… I am a grief-internalizer-can’t get over it person as well, so I know where you’re at with the “why can’t I get over this?” guilt. Love you baby, hang in there.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Shut it, Hoody. I’ll sleep with you already.

Thank you for your comment. I know you experienced loss recently, and I really hope that pain eases with time.

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Hoody Hoo August 16, 2011 at 6:47 am

Thank you right back (and hey, Adrian? HA! I WIN!). ; )
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Meg August 15, 2011 at 7:02 am

I think you are wonderful. <3

I'm so sorry you lost your dad. You write about him very powerfully.

My mother died 4 years ago, but I'm older than you and was an adult at the time. (So while I don't like to compare pain, I do think it was a lot easier on me than losing your dad was on you; I miss her and I'm sad she didn't get to have more life, but I didn't have the same questions about her, I grew up with her, etc.)

What you write about moving on is very true. I never really 'got over' Mum dying, and I don't think it's normal by any means for people to feel as if they've gotten over the death of someone close. Grief is different for everyone, and it takes however long it takes, and you can feel as if you're your own person and have come to terms with it and can manage your life just fine… and still be stunned and heartsick over a tiny reminder a year later. Everyone's different and it's rarely simple.

(I'm sure you know this already as you're not a moron, lol, I'm just thinking 'out loud'. )

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Your mum sounds like an amazing person if she commands such emotion from you. I’m sure she’s proud of you, too.

Thank you for your comment–it meant a lot to me.

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Leauxra August 15, 2011 at 8:09 am

Two months after my 17th birthday, my first real boyfriend died suddenly in an accident. I felt guilty because I was supposed to be with him that day that he slipped. He jumped across the top of a waterfall and lost his footing, and fell 40 feet to his death on the rocks below. I felt guilty for grieving because I had only known him for a few months, like I didn’t have the right. I hike to that spot every year, and every year he is younger. Just a kid, really.

It was 18 years ago. And no, it doesn’t go away. I put my grief in a little compartment in my soul, and take it out every year for a little while. It gets easier to do, but it always hurts.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I can’t imagine standing in your shoes. Thank you for sharing your story–and don’t feel guilty about your grief. You knew him, you had feelings for him, and he was lost to you. There’s nothing I can say that can help you, so I’ll stop trying–but thank you again. This meant a lot to hear.

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Jaclyn August 15, 2011 at 8:30 am

I lost a son. I was pregnant- 6 months pregnant- after fucking fertility treatments and I went in for a check-up and he had died. Everything about it is so unfair, but all the things I miss are the hardest. I have a daughter now who is the best thing ever, but when she hits those important milestones (her first birthday just passed in May), I can’t help but think about how I’ll never get that with my son. I never saw him smile, he never held my finger. I never even got to look him in the eye. It all got very unexpectedly ripped away from me. And so I really get the part you are saying about not having the memories. What I have of my son is two pictures. He was not alive in those pictures. And the memory is so blurry… it was more than 2 years ago and everything happened so fast and I was so unprepared for it so I didn’t take the time to take any decent pictures or really look at him. I was too overwhelmed and I only spent like 5 minutes holding him before I just couldn’t handle it anymore, so I kissed my son goodbye for the one and only time and I’ll never see him again.

The grief can be utterly overwhelming… my last blog post was actually about some of this stuff because its been hitting me pretty hard. I guess for me the only way to deal is to embrace it sometimes. I can be happy and normal most of the time but when it washes over me I can’t stop it. So I cry and I think of him and I look at his picture and I feel the sadness of everything I’ve missed. And then I try to remember that he’s with me, that he’s watching over his baby sister and that he wants me to be happy. But I wish I had something more concrete. I wish I had even one day to just hold him and kiss him and tell him all the things I wanted for him. I wish I had a moment to apologize for being disappointed that he wasn’t a girl. The guilt of that will always be with me, especially since he died very shortly after we found out he was a boy. I just hope he knows that I was never truly upset about it and that I don’t love his sister any more because she’s a girl.

So I don’t know, Noa. I don’t think it’s weird at all for you to still feel so unresolved and sad about it. It’s someone you know you loved, even if you didn’t really get a chance to know all the reasons why he was wonderful. Embrace your sadness sometimes. You are absolutely entitled to it. And he would be proud. I’m sure of it.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Oh Jaclyn, thank you. Seeing how much you love your son gives me faith that my father would have been proud of me even today. You help me see that a parent’s love never really dies.

Thank you.

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Grace August 15, 2011 at 8:55 am

I’m not going to spend time telling you how proud of you he would be. Me telling that to you seems as though I would be denying what you already know as true. I will say, he isn’t proud of you because you live in a nice apartment, because you are successful, or because you are finishing college (he didn’t, remember). He IS proud of you because you are being true to your calling, because you are happily doing what you love most, because you married for love, because you work hard, and because you are his daughter and I promise you he knew what you were capable of when he died, no matter how old you were.

I know I had more time with him, it kills me that you didn’t too. I have some memories of my own. But largely what I remember is the recreation of stories told over and over about him. I cant remember his face without looking in a picture, and I don’t think I’ll ever remember his voice.

What hurts the most now is the fact that the people who are most important in my life will never know him. My kids, my husband, the adult me. There is a blank spot in my life story, a place in my soul that should have been molded by him and will never be.

The thing that I am most glad I have finally learned, is not to live up to what I (or others) perceive his expectations would have been. It’s living up to a standard that can never be reached. We are who he wanted us to be: strong and proud, happy and healthy, striving for better everyday, compassionate and giving. Most of all, we are his daughters and I PROMISE, that is enough for him.

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Margaret Goerig August 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

Sisters are awesome. I don’t know what I’d do without mine and I’m so glad you have yours. To add to the list: I’m pretty sure your father would also be proud of how close you two are.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Grace is pretty fucking great. I’m glad you have a great relationship with your sister as well.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Grace,

I cannot respond to you. I don’t have the words. I’m so glad you’re my sister. That’s all I can say.

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Kelly August 15, 2011 at 9:04 am

Noa, your courage is inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing. I happen to believe that you will have your father one day, and will be able to ask him the questions that you desperately need the answers to. I’m sure your father is looking down on you smiling, and bursting with pride that you are doing what makes you happy. I’m also sure he thinks twatwaffle is the most awesome word ever invented.

Grief is an odd beast. No two people go through it in the same way. Not a day goes by that something doesn’t remind me me of my grandma, especially when I’m in Walmart and I smell an older lady who wears the same perfume – I look for her to be there, and I tear up when I remember that it can’t be her. If I try hard enough, I can still smell her house, and hear her infectious giggle. I hate that my grandparents didn’t know my husband or my children, but like I said earlier, my faith allows me to have the relief that we will be together again someday. And until that day comes, I just thank them for being my guardian angels, watching over me and my family, and hoping that I’m not being too embarrassing for them.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Kelly,

My papa would probably have loved the word twatwaffle. I hope one day I’ll get to tell him all about it.

Thank you for sharing your story.

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Shanel August 15, 2011 at 9:10 am

I lost my dad almost 4 years ago. Every year, I make his favorite dinner on Father’s Day and on his birthday. I also bake his favorite cake on his birthday. I put 1 candle on it and quietly sing Happy Birthday to him. For some reason it makes me feel better. Before he passed, I didn’t care much for football but now I try to watch it all season because someone has to root for his team that he loved so much.

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Noa August 16, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I’m glad you have a tradition that keeps him in your heart and helps ease your pain. Thank you for your comment!

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ColinP August 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

Thank you for sharing, I wish I could ease your pain. About 12 years the sister of one of my best friends died. She was a brilliant, beautiful and tortured soul. Sadly she had a bipolar disorder and possibly some schizophrenia. Her highs her epic and her lows were heart-breakingly hellish. She had a talent for languages that boggled my mind and she got to spend a year or two going to Moscow University. She spoke fluent English, Italian, French, Spanish and Russian. We kept in touch but there would be periods where we would lose touch for a bit. During the summer of 1994 or 1995 during a truly soul crushing depression she tried to take her own life. Thankfully her family was able to get to her in time and she lived. I visited her as often as I could in the hospital and now I understand what suicide watch really means. Every where she went a nurse or an orderly was with her at all times.

Eventually her family got her transferred to a facility that could offer more services and she got better. When she finally had her feet under her she went back to school and became a teacher. She chose to move to the Bronx and tried to give back as much as she could. Once again we lost touch but every time I spoke with her brother I asked him to pass her my phone number and to ask her to call so we can catch up. Then one day I got the call I never expected. Sabrina was dead. She missed a few days of work and the school asked her building super to check up on her and that is when we knew she was gone.

I remember many summers when her mother would chide me “So when are you going to marry my little girl hmm?” in the way that only an Italian mother can chide. At the wake after saying good bye to Sabrina and sharing many stories I walked over to her mother and said “I guess I can’t marry your little girl anymore.”
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I’m so sorry.

I’m crying too much to say anything more. I’m just so sorry.

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ColinP August 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

I think of her often but I know she is in a better place now, simply because she has no more pain.
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Peggy August 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I lost my Dad 9 years ago next week. Your way with words, your bravery in throwing it all out there has me bawling for my Dad and yours.

No, you never get over it. Every loss is a piece of you gone forever. I think that’s why so many older people are so serene. They’re looking forward to putting themselves back together again.

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Noa August 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm

That was a very eloquent way of putting it–looking forward to putting it all back together. Thank you very much for your comment.

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Elly Lou August 15, 2011 at 9:19 am

You made me cry. Not that it’s terribly hard to do today. Then Grace made me bawl. You’re both just lovely.

And, don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t think of you as “trying to be funny.”. I think of you as being honest and embracing humor when it arises and without force. And I think that’s even more special. And I’m grateful you share that with us.

*hugs*

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Thank you for your wonderful support and words, Elly. (And yeah, Grace is pretty cool.)

I’ve never had a better compliment about my humor. I hate forced humor, and I appreciate that you think mine isn’t.

Thank you.

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ColinP August 16, 2011 at 10:06 am

I have to agree with Elly Lou, I love your sense of humor and eagerly look forward to whatever you write. You have made me laugh, you have made me cry while laughing, you have made me cry and you have been the primary cause of me needing an asthma inhaler because I laughed so hard I couldn’t breath on a regular basis.
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Noa August 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Thanks, Colin. You’re incredibly kind to say that.

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Lawmommy August 15, 2011 at 9:23 am

Last year, my uncle died. He was my uncle, but also my boss, my mentor, my law partner. He was much, much closer to me than my father…he was my father’s brother, but he understood me so much more. (I think, really, he understood my father, and he understood me, and in his presence we were more a family than we can be in his absence.)

His death sliced through my world like a machete. I am still reeling, 14 months later. I don’t know how I’m dealing – grief counseling, giant cups of tea, crying in the bathtub.

Time passes and the hurt recedes a bit. I can say his name without crying. But I still miss him, every single day.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Thank you for sharing your pain. I know it’s not easy. I hope, in time, you can keep walking forward.

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Stephanie August 15, 2011 at 9:23 am

Your post is very ironic for me today. It is my mom’s birthday and I lost her to breast cancer 8 years ago when I was only 18 years old. She had a four year struggle and left behind me and my two little sisters who weren’t even in high school. It really helps to read your words today because I am finding that although I am moving forward, it never gets easier. I always just want to pick up the phone and call her…I want her advice and nobody else’s. When people complain about their parents, I want to punch them in the face and tell them to shut the fuck up because their parents may not always be there. My future child will never know their Nana, and now that my dad is dying from brain cancer, will probably never know their Papa either. I have never known a world where someone close to me was not dying…and think that by ignoring it, it makes me a bad and heartless person. I don’t really have a way to deal with it, but somehow I just get through. The one thing that helps me the most is knowing that my sisters and I will move near each other someday and start our own lives and traditions and keep our mom in our hearts. Thanks for the post today, Noa : )

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm

The worst feeling in the world is picking up the phone to call someone who will not be there. To ask for advice from the only one who can help you and to earn only silence.

Thank you for your comment, and your strength in words. I admire your tough, Stephanie.

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Luda August 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

This post made me miss your Papa, too, and I never knew him.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm

He was a hell of a man. He filled up a massive church, the fellowship hall of said church, the foyer of said church, and the parking lot of said church at his funeral.

Maybe the worst part of that was seeing 8 people show up to his father’s funeral–2 of which were my mother’s parents.

Sorry, tangent there. Thank you for your comment. I wish you could have known him, too.

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Lorilei August 15, 2011 at 9:41 am

This post really resonated with me, because my sister and I lost our mom in 1990 too. I was 11, and she was 5, so in reading this I can really see her point of view. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know that those can really be empty words, but know that when I say them, they are full of all of the grief that I know you feel. The loss only grows with time. Thanks for posting this.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Thank you for your comment–I know you and Grace would have a lot in common in this. She was 7, I was 3. She’s bore the brunt of “knowing more about him,” growing up, when she, and probably you, didn’t have many more memories than the baby sisters do. That’s not an easy role to fill, but you’re tough as nails for having done it.

Thank you for your words–you know very well that sometimes words mean little, but coming from the right direction, as yours do, means a lot.

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Misty August 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

You are very brave to write this post. You had me crying with how honest and heartwrenching it was. You are a brilliant writer and highly entertaining and I’m sure your father would have been proud of your accomplishments, but also just proud to be your father. That is what fathers do. And I am so sorry you have not been able to experience that in your life. To yearn for something/someone that you can never have, yet never feeling complete without it has got to be the hardest thing in life. Especially coupled with the loss of a parent. Even if you didn’t know him, I’m sure he lives on through your life and maybe that can give you some comfort. I know nothing will ever be enough though, and am sorry for that loss.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I can’t say anything but thank you. This comment was wonderful and beautiful and supportive, and…thank you. I really, really appreciate it.

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Angie Uncovered August 15, 2011 at 9:59 am

Noa, I am finding it very hard to type right now. Amazing isn’t it how a lump in your throat and water in your eyes can cripple the fingers. That was quite honestly the most heartfelt and heart warming thing I will likely read for a very long time. While nothing we will say here can take the place of hearing it from your father… you should know that each of us thinks you’re amazing, strong, funny, and did I mention… amazing? You make a difference in so many lives that it would be impossible for your dad NOT to be proud.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Your comments mean more to me than you will ever know. Thank you so much. So, so much.

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Eric August 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

I am floored Noa. As much as I love your funny posts, this one moves up into my all time favorite. I am sorry for your loss, but at the same time I envy you for being able to feel this way about your parents. It isn’t something I’ll ever get the opportunity to know. Thanks for giving us a chance to see this side of you.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I’m sorry that you won’t get to feel like this towards your own parents. It makes my heart ache that you won’t–you can probably understand the hole in the heart that appears when you have the love of a parent ripped away.

Thank you for the comment.

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Meg August 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

What a beautiful post, Noa. And some of the comments, too. I’m in tears, and I wish each and every person who has shared their grief today all the best.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Thank you for the support, Meg!

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Margaret Goerig August 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

Hugs, Noa.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hugs back.

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KatieBee August 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

This is beautiful, Noa.

I lost my grandmother last Monday, August 8th. My mom called me at about 4am to let me know she was gone. After weeping for an hour or so and trying to distract myself, I got out of bed and came to the living room and to the laptop. I opened your blog and read the “Lessons in Bullshit” post and actually laughed through the tears.

And while today’s post made me cry, I am very grateful for the post last week that made me laugh.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I’m so sorry Katie. I’m so glad I can make you laugh through all of that. I just realized recently how important my grandparents should be in my life–I hope she was influential in yours.

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Tazer August 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

I’m sorry you lost your Dad, Noa. Fathers are invaluable. Beautiful piece, my dear, I’m sure he’d be proud of you for all that you’ve accomplished.
Tazer recently posted..Sunday Hobo Post

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Thank you, Tazer. I really really appreciate your support.

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tavie August 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

Convo- this brought tears to my eyes. My son’s father lost his dad when he was only 3 years old. This made me think of him and conversations that we’ve had about him never knowing his father. He died from Lymphoma Cancer. I’ forwarding this to my ex. Thanks for writing.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm

My father passed away from Leukemia. I hope this helps them!!

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Rachael August 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

Can I offer hugs?

I’ve been going through similar feelings lately. I knew my grandmother–she died when I was 19, almost five years ago–but everyone else in my family managed to deal with it and move on. It took me until last week to realize why I couldn’t. I was off in college and missed her illness and her death. Missed the chance to accept it emotionally.

I hate hearing that you’re in a similar place, feeling like you can’t move on when everyone else has. It’s awful and I’m sorry. But thank you for sharing. I feel less alone.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I’m glad I can help you feel less alone. We live in a culture that’s pretty uncomfortable with seeing grief, so it’s tough when you feel like the only one.

You’re not. You have support. I promise.

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FireWench August 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

“I’ve learned that grief over someone you love doesn’t mean you move on, only move forward. Your heart will always hurt with the memories (or lack) of that person, and you simply learn to keep walking forward.

It never gets better. It only gets easier to deal with.”

So true. Thank you for sharing.
My dad passed away in ’91. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him in some way. He was a joker. Some days I think his biggest prank was leaving the rest of us to deal with my mother. ;o)

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

He sounds like a hell of a guy. Thank you for sharing.

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Julia August 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm

i had a convo with my little cousin (who is in her 20′s now) just a week ago about her daddy! When I was 15 and she was 8 he “took his life” and by “took his life” I mean we don’t believe that is how it went down but can’t prove it.

Anyway she was asking me to tell her about him, what he was like, sharing my memories as she has so very few! It broke my heart. It isn’t fair that I got 15 years and she only got 8! For her it is even more tramatic because she has to wonder if her daddy made the decision to leave her!

I miss him every day and wonder what kind of person he would be now, I question what exactly happened to him and worry that for all these years he was classified as “suicide” when it might have been murder.

Know that you are never alone and although there will never be words to comfort you or someone strong enough to wrap you and make you feel complete and safe, that he loved you as all daddies love their little girls.

Hugs to you Noa!!

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Thanks for being there for your cousin–it’s not easy to lose a parent at any age. Thank you for the support!

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Heather Heartless August 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I’m a bottler, a blocker, and a forgetter. It’s what gets me through the days.

Only once was I brave enough to let it out into the open and when I did, people cried. Here’s some major bonus points for having huge elephant balls, Noa. Most of us don’t. I don’t think it’s how long or how well you knew someone so much as it is the impact that they had/have on your life. My granddaddy is to my family as your papa is to yours. He’s a fucking legend; a king among men. He died in 1989 when I was three and I only have three distinct memories of him, but I still miss him.

I’ve too much heartbreak to share here, so I’ll keep it to myself awhile longer. We’re all different in the ways we handle death, but every one of us here is stronger for it, and for knowing each other and all of our fucked upedness.
Heather Heartless recently posted..Tasteless Merchandise to Fuel My Pillow Addiction

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Speak your heartbreak in your own time. It’s yours to share, but not your burden to bear. Know that you always have support. Always.

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My Baby Sweetness August 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss. My Dad died 8 years ago. I was an adult, but felt like a child in many ways. I come from a family that values “stoicism” in the face of these things – no one thought it was ok to cry while he was sick, so I hid in the basement doing laundry when I visited home for the weekend and cried there. The day he died I was standing in the kitchen with my Mom, brother, aunt and uncle when the funeral director was taking him – it occurred to me that he was leaving the house for the very last time and would never come home again, so I started crying. My aunt told me not to cry as I needed to be strong for my Mom then. I didn’t say anything, but in my head I thought – don’t cry? Don’t cry now? Now is the PERFECT time to cry! Now is when you are supposed to cry in life! Everyone else seemed so proud of hiding their tears or grief – it seemed messed up to me!

I know it’s not the same, but maybe others in your family are feeling more grief than you think or not moving on as much as you think. They might just be hiding it better than you?

Sometimes I feel like a freak for still getting upset about his death – it’s been years. I’m a “grown up” now. I’m married. I have a child. Shouldn’t I be focused on my life the way everyone else is? But I think we all probably judge ourselves too hard. And we’re all so busy feeling guilty about our feelings and covering them up that we don’t realize that everyone else is doing the same and the feelings are normal! (Was that too soap box-y? Ugh…)

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

It wasn’t too soap-boxy, because you’re right! Being “strong” to help others sometimes is no consolation at all. I’m sorry you had to deal with your loss in such a way.

My mom put it well today when she said, “you feel better for a bit, you deal with it, but it comes back sometimes and then you deal with it again.”

It’s a neverending cycle, but one day, I hope it becomes bittersweet and not just bitter.

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Roy August 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Noa,

When I’m not hunkered down in front of the computer, my day job is conducting mental health assessments on mentally ill and suicidal folks. When I meet with these people, it’s generally on one of the worst days of their lives. For better or worse, I’m immersed in a sea of people experiencing massive quantities of grief and loss.

Based on that, and some personal experiences of my own, I’ve come to believe that the idea of people “recovering” or “getting over” this type of loss is a fallacy. Nobody gets over the loss of someone close to them, especially a parent. Especially when the loss of that parent occurs when both of you are far too young. You’re not a freak because you still miss your father. You’re an emotionally intact woman who got robbed of her dad as a kid, and sometimes, you’re sad about that. If you weren’t sad, ever….that, to me, would be far more freakish. People that lose limbs still feel that phantom itch decades after the loss. It only makes sense that losing a chunk of your heart, figuratively or otherwise, is going to sting, whether it’s a month or a year or two decades after the loss. The scars always remain, and who we are as people, what determines our character, is how we handle those scars. It seems like you’ve adapted as well as anyone could, and maybe it still hurts sometimes, but it doesn’t seem to have held you back. And that’s a pretty resounding reflection of your strength of character.

Without knowing you or your dad, based on what you’ve got going on here, I’d have to think he’d be amazingly proud with how his daughter has turned out. Be well, Noa.
Roy recently posted..Alexander the Great

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Thank you Roy. I can’t follow up words like you wrote with anything that sounds even remotely adequate. So…thank you. That means a lot to me.

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barefootorbust August 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

That is so hard. Losing someone you love is never easy. And anyone who tells you the pain will go away is a liar who is deluding themselves.

Next month will be the 5 year anniversary of losing my niece and nephew in a car crash. My family blamed me, even tough I was no where near. So I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral. That is the hardest thing. I knew those kids better than anyone, and yet I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye. They were 5 and 2 at the time.

Usually I am able to remember the funny things they did and just hold on to that. But around the anniversary it gets hard. Fortunately I have friends who understand and will cover for me. I turn my phone off for the entire day. I light a yartziet candle for each of them. Then I spend the whole day just letting myself feel the hurt and the loss. I go for a walk by the river and just let myself cry. I find that it is easier to deal with the rest of the year if I allow myself that one day a year to grieve without holding back at all.

Your grief is especially hard, as you are not only grieving the loss of a parent, you are grieving the loss of potential memories and time you missed with them when you were cognizant. Allow yourself to feel it. Just don’t allow yourself to dwell on the pain part all the time. You are right. There is no getting over, there is just moving forward.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I have no words to help you, I can only say I’m so sorry. I hope this gets easier to deal with for you in the future. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Bcca August 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

shiz… did you really have to make me cry, at work, so hard I had to leave to use the restroom and not come back for 10 minutes. On a serious note, grief is like a scab. (ok it gets better I promise) Sometimes you think everything is on the up and up, and you’re doing ok, you’re healing, moving on, it’s getting itchy, you ignore and then WHAM, you’re crawling on the carpet and an edge of it gets caught on a fiber and rips that puppy off. You’re hurting, bleeding and mostly like asking yourself, why do I have to go through this again… even in time, after the scab’s fallen off there’s always a little scar to remind you…

I lost a baby at 5 months. Most days I feel fine.
I lost my brother in law when he was 20 years young to leukemia. Most days I feel fine.

Some days I feel like I ripped both scabs off at once. It comes and it goes. I spent a lot of exhausting time fighting it. You can’t fight it, embrace it. Keep being brave, and funny, and cry and laugh. That’s all you can do.

You’re amazingly courageous. I’m insanely jealous.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Don’t be jealous–there’s no courage, only catharsis.

That was probably the best analogy of grief and loss that I have ever heard. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Andi August 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Noa, this was moving and heartfelt. It’s hard to define a sense of loss when you don’t have a conventional, long term relationship. I lost my dad two years ago, suddenly, and one of the things that made it hard to deal with was that people dismissed it with, “Well, you guys weren’t that close.” My parents divorced when I was a baby, and because I didn’t have a relationship with my dad until I was a teen and then an adult, people felt free to dismiss my response. I cried harder with my dad than I did with any of my other family members.

My mother’s family is also really stoic, to the point of being cold, so I did all my crying for my grandparents in private. Literally, I cried in bed and only in bed, in the dark. It’s really weird when I think about it, but I don’t remember anyone crying at the funeral of either of my grandparents — except my grandma cried for my grandpa. They were both in their 90s when they passed, so they did have very long lives. I think my dad’s death was harder because he was relatively young and it was unexpected. He still had a kid at home and lots of living to do. I wished at the time and still wish that it had been my mom instead — nobody likes her or relies on her so why do the people in my family who actually care about me keep getting taken away?

Anyhow, I wanted you to know that one of the things I admire about you is your strong relationship with your mom and Grace. I think that says a lot about a family when they can weather stuff like this.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm

ARRRGGHGHHHH. Nothing makes me more angry that people dismissing grief. It’s not for anyone to decide how one should grieve, or why, or for how long, or how strongly.

Your grief and sadness is your own.

Thank you for your comment and your story and your support. I hope you know you have support as well.

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KatieTheBlogLady August 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Noa, this was an amazing post that completely ruined my eye make-up. I will never know what it is like to lose my father so young, but since the ripe ‘ol age of 5, I have known what is like to live in fear of losing him. At 30 years old, my dad had his first heart attack. He is now 63 and has had 3 open heart surgeries, and too many other heart operations to count. The dudes just got a bad heart. Every day I wake up thankful that he’s still here and scared of the day when he’s not.

I can’t imagine what that loss is like, but I know that it takes an incredibly strong person to overcome the constant reminder that someone you love is gone. Of course, I don’t believe we are ever truly “gone” . . . which means your dad is there guiding you through life whether you know it or not. And, when it rains, that’s not Jebus’ tears. No, that’s your dad peeing his pants cause you are so fucking funny. Which is kinda gross now that I think about.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Thank you so much for making me laugh with the last paragraph of your comment. I really really needed that today.

Thank you for sharing your story as well–I hope he hangs on for many more years!

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Alpandia August 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I lost my dad in 2005. We’re almost up to the 6th anniversary of his passing. I’d moved to FL and he was still in NY with the rest of the family. The phonecall at 6:30 in the morning swept my world away from me. I sat on that couch and couldn’t move. Maybe if I didn’t let go of the phone, it wouldn’t be real. Maybe if I went to work, somehow it was a dream.

I sold that couch within weeks of his passing.

I remember getting to the airport and trying to get the rental car and directions, because I’ve never actually driven myself home from the airport – he always picked me up when I came to visit. I sat in the car and cried, then tucked all those emotions away to get to my mom.

I’m the oldest, stepped right back into that role, made sure everything was okay. The wake passed, the funeral passed, and eventually I came home to FL. Once I’d left the rental car lot, I didn’t cry the whole time I was in NY, because I was strong for mom. My sisters and brother have their own issues with his passing, mostly that they feel they should’ve checked on him when they came home as the TV was on and that’s unusual. They think maybe if they checked, they could’ve saved him.

The heart attack, though, according to the ME, was sudden, and he went quietly.

I was (and, to a degree, still am) upset with myself that I didn’t call enough. Then I get mad at him, because, you know, phones work both ways. I’ve written him a zillion letters since he passed. Some are angry. Some are tear-stained. Some have some pretty foul language. But they are all from the heart, and each time, they help me take another step forward when I’m bogged down in my feelings.

I don’t know if he’d be proud of me that I bought a house. Or learned to ride a motorcycle. Or will be a Black Belt next month (providing I survive August). Or any of the other achievements that I have experienced in the last 6 years.

I think he would be, though.

I remember my friend getting all worked up in a lather that her dad was coming to visit and she was sure he would “hate” her because she was overweight, and she didn’t have a good enough job, and that her house wasn’t clean enough… blah blah blah.

I looked at her and said, “Your dad loves you because you’re his daughter. As long as you’re happy, he’s proud of you. And if you’re not happy, he’ll help you get that way, and will still be proud of you. So shut the fuck up and enjoy his visit.”

So yeah… I bet your dad and my dad are both deliriously happy with their smart, witty daughters.

Love you, Noa.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I think this was your first comment here (call me on it if I’m wrong), and it couldn’t have been more poignant. I’m sorry for the loss of your father and the sadness you continue to feel. Thank you for sharing your story with me (and everyone else), and for the support you’ve offered. I hope your pain gets better in time.

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Johi August 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Wow Noah. Just wow.
First, I am so sorry that you lost your dad at such a young age.
Secondly, this post just proves your depth as a writer- you can master it all; from dick jokes to beautiful and heart wrenching emotion. I’m sure your papa would be so so proud of is. In fact, I’m sure he is.
Hugs to you.
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Johi August 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm

that is “Proud of You” not “proud of is”. One day I will learn to read BEFORE I hit publish.
Johi recently posted.."Vacationing" with small children and medium sized dogs.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Thank you Johi. I don’t know what to say–I really appreciate your support and words. They mean a lot to me.

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Meg August 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I think I am going to save this for a little girl I know. My best friend lost her husband two years ago. Their daughter was only 9 months old at the time. His death was sudden and completely unexpected. I’ve suffered the loss of my grandparents and a miscarriage, but for some reason Danny’s death affected me on a whole other level. After seeing what my friend has gone through, it’s given me a totally different perspective on what a bad day really is. C lost a great husband, Ky lost a great dad, we lost a great friend and the world lost a great man. One of the hardest parts is not knowing why. Oh, we know he died of an aneurism, but, why. Why did he have to be taken so young? I guess you could drive yourself crazy with asking, wondering. Ky will be 3 in December. I don’t know how she will feel 20 years from now, but I can imagine that it will be very similar to what you have gone through. Thanks so much for sharing Noa.
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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I’m sorry for the loss of a person you, and his family, so clearly cared so much about. Thank you for sharing your story. I really hope this can help that little girl one day–she’ll grow up grieving the loss of something that never was, instead of grieving the loss of what she knew. I’m glad you can be there for her.

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lena August 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I recently lost my grandmother, who was ( to me, at least)the most incredible human being that ever lived. She was more than grandma, she was like a second mother to me; a safe haven, my safe place. Of her I could always expect a warm smile, a hug, delicious food, but most importantly , no judgment, not even a harsh look; and just pure love. I miss her terribly; and I honestly don’t believe I’ll ever get over her passing. It’s weird how everything( life most all) all of a sudden stopped having any meaning and how there was no joy to be found. I fight and try to be okay most days, but it’s in those moments of quiet; when everything’s perfectly still, that i remember that it has only been a month and a half of her going away, and I realize that there’s a whole life ahead of me without her in it; and it all just seems daunting and scary and worthless. my heart’s still broken; I’m still broken.

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I’m so sorry, Lena. I can see in your words what a great, loving person she is. I know your wound is really really raw right now, and you probably won’t feel much better for a while. Maybe a month, maybe many many years. But I can say–it does get better. I know it doesn’t feel like that at all, but in time, you’ll feel a little better. You’ll never get over it. You’ll never forget her, or your grief, or her loss. But you will be able to pick your head up again one day. Know that you are not alone.

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lena August 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Thank you! I can’t believe you have the time to reply to all our comments, but doings so means the world to us who absolutely adore you. It has been a month and a half of pure shit, dissapointment and heartbreak; and it’s simply astonishing that a perfect stranger can show so much kindness and love. Thank you so much
(BTW: I want “twatwaffle” to be engraved on my tombstone. That’s just fucking amazing)

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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:03 am

I’ll see to it that you go to the grave with Twatwaffles.

Wait.

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lena August 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm

did you mean I’ll die due to or because of twatwaffles or that I’ll be buried with a limitless assortment of different and exotic twatwaffles of my choosing??
shit, now I’m confused.

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Noa August 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Probably a little of both.

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@OutofGoldStars August 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Now I’m really regretting that glass of wine. Can’t stop crying. You’re words are so true and honest. My dad died 10 years ago when I was in high school. I was the older sister and my mom was a mess. I think I lost a huge chunk of my childhood trying to pick up all the pieces and be strong when really I was falling apart. None of my friends understood what I was going through so I distanced myself from everyone. I remember for weeks I would just wake up on the kitchen floor wondering how I got there and would rush back to my room out of embarrassment that my mom or sister would have seen me anything but in control.

Now the worst days are the ones where I all of a sudden realize that I haven’t thought about him for a couple days and I feel guilty and sick at heart. My mom and sister don’t mention him, therefore I don’t mention him. But then that just seems wrong. But now we are ten years down the road and we never started talking about it, so it seems like it would be weird to do it now.

Every milestone I cross in my life seems empty without his presence. Each milestone I have this hope, a hope that I have never voiced, that this time will be the time my mom hands me some letter of wisdom he wrote before he died, just for the special occasion. But no.

You said it right….When everything in all of our lives is going well–we’re all happy and complete–this is when I miss you the most.
@OutofGoldStars recently posted..one week down, thirty-nine to go

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm

You’re a hell of a lot tougher than I am. I’m anything but in control of my emotions.

Don’t be afraid of bringing him up if it’s what feels like it needs to happen. If it helps you heal, then don’t hesitate.

Thank you for sharing your story–I hope your pain eases with time.

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FireMom August 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Mmm.

My grandfather died — unexpectedly — almost two years ago. I didn’t get to make it to the hospital to say goodbye. He was already gone. I still can’t type that without crying as he was such a presence in my life. I hate that my children are growing up without their great-grandfather — their Big Papau. I hate that he’s not there to call, to call me. No one calls me Sweet Pea anymore and no one calls my husband Centerfold anymore. I feel like a big wuss. What nearly 30 year old doesn’t expect to lose a grandparent? But it was so unexpected. And I still miss him daily.

Your post is beautiful and I thank you for giving us a space to talk about all of this.
FireMom recently posted..My Spidey Senses Say It’s Time

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Noa August 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Even if the person who’s passed was sick for 30 years, it’s never easy, never okay to lose someone. People grieve very hard when they lose parents at age 60–if he meant a lot to you, then miss him. He sounds like a great man, and I’m sorry you had to lose him.

Thank you for sharing your story.

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a August 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm

The 20th anniversary of my dad’s death is coming up next month. I still wish he were around to see the parts of my life that he would enjoy (my daughter, my job possibly). I was 22 when he died, after a long illness (or two – rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease). You make me feel so lucky to have known him as an (almost) adult. It’s both easier and harder…I have good memories to fall back on, but I have a very clear picture of the person I’m missing and how he would have responded to all the parts of my life.

It’s something that never leaves you, isn’t it? But you’ve very eloquently described the longing and sadness… Thanks for opening yourself up.
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Noa August 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Our grief is different, but neither is greater than another. Sometimes I wonder if I’m luckier because I never knew him, so it’s hard to miss his personality and soul.

Thank you for your comment and support.

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Jillian August 16, 2011 at 12:07 am

Noa, I know that your dad and any member of your family– be they blood or heart related– would be proud of you because you have opened yourself up to new relationships of strength and support. When my mom got sick, I was in the throws of a quiet but very hurtful fight with my (now former) best friend. When I needed my mom to talk me through my abusive friendship, she was getting weekly tests and sleeping the rest of the time. When I needed my best friend to remind me that my mom’s illness would not conquer my family, she was calling me a bitch for ignoring her. It takes a very creative and willful person to decide that great things can come from unfamiliar places. You have wonderful, strong family and friends, but if you were to limit your life to the comfortable, it would shrink very quickly. I’m glad that the comments of my fellow readers have provided some solace, and I hope they continue to do so.
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Noa August 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I’m sorry you had to go through such a tough time in such an awful way. I am grateful for your support, and hope that you have good support as well. Thank you for your comment.

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Dead Cow Girl August 16, 2011 at 1:04 am

I’m so sorry lady. :-(
Dead Cow Girl recently posted..Spanking. It’s not just for perverts any more!

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Noa August 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

S’okay. Seeing this comment and then your spanky post title made me laugh.

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Dear Sweet Mama August 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

My own DearSweetMama died a long time ago. I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone and call her with something amazing or something sad – times when a girl just needs her mom. The first year after she died, I kept hearing her at the grocery store and would go tearing into the other aisle. Just to check, you know? Then, after my dad died several years later, I started seeing them. Be driving down the interstate, look over and see my mom smiling at me in her “gotcha” face as they crusied by in the other lane. I truly thought I was loosing it until my sister called from Virginny and asked if I was seeing mom and dad driving around. She wasn’t seeing them anymore and figured they had come to see me. It was wonderful once I decided I wasn’t crazy. Oh, hell – it was wonderful even if I was. I still wish I could just feel her soft old people hands one more time. Death – it may be natural, but it still sucks.

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Noa August 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm

If your DSM was anything like you, I’m sure she’s still messing with you and Hoody today. I’m sorry you had to lose her. You’re right; death is natural, but it sucks.

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Bryn August 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

Both of my grandpas are gone, one when I was very little, and the only memories I have of him and I are ones involing coffee with to much sugar, the smell of his cigars, and the fact that I could barely understand him when he talked. My papaw died about 8 months ago, 4 months before my wedding, and 5 before we found out I was pregnant. The only way I can get through that is not thinking about it, at all.
I think the one that hurts the most is my husbands mamaw, that I never even met. The good woman raised the love of my life, and he loved her so much. I never even got the chance to say thank you. I get through that by putting flowers on her headstone, she was a gardener, and its the only way I can show my gratitude.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 1:58 am

I can empathize with your pain about your husband’s grandmother very well–Adrian’s grandmother practically raised him, but died only a few years before I met him. She was an incredible woman, and I hate that I never got to know her.

You get through well, Bryn. I’ll be taking your advice.

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elizabeth- flourish in progress August 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

My friend, I think Papa would be so fucking proud of the fine woman you are today. Actually, not to sound all creepy, but I think he KNOWS what an amazing human being you turned out to be. I believe he can peer down and see the awesomeness that is you and Grace and your happy mama, and he is breathing a sigh of relief that shit done turned out real good. Oh, and I think he digs the fact that Adrian looks like Jesus. Because, come on, that is just undeniably cool.

The person I have lost isn’t dead, but I still lost him. It’s my dad. I’m not sure that I want to “find” him again, but maybe…one day, my cold-as-fuck heart will melt a little and I’ll be ready.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:00 am

He would really love Adrian’s hair.

You lost him just the same, and I can’t imagine how painful it is to stand in your shoes, knowing some of your story. You gots the balls, my friend. Thank you.

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kim August 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Another hermit crab died in June and I yelled, “No more grief!” and tossed it in the garbage. My kids were horrified. (pearl, http://kimmaddox.com/2011/06/13/pearl/)

The grief comes in great, sobbing waves. When my second little sister was diagnosed with end-stage cancer (both died) just six months after my father’s death, I bought that giant play set from Costco and had it set up in the backyard. All I wanted to do wa watch my children play. Then, I divorced my children’s father, because now I know that life is too short. Then I loved a man with my whole heart for the first time in my life. And my whole heart got stomped in a big bad way. It’s what we’re here for. To be alive. To feel it all. To take chances. To crank up the tunes and dance like a mother fucker.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:01 am

That was one of the cheeriest responses to this yet, despite the sadness that you have about your own grief. Thank you!

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Anna August 16, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Your strength and bravery at sharing your pain is incredible and you should be proud. Proud because you have the strength to admit your pain and accept that you don’t forget but move forward.

My father committed suicide when I was young, and like you, I have few memories that I can call up on my own. While I wonder the same things: is he proud? does he miss me? is he ok? It can hurt to know that you will never know.

I never knew your papa and I know you only through your writing, but the fact that you bring hundreds, thousands, or more, people together daily to share in thoughts and laughter and love, is something that surely makes him immensely proud.

Thank you for sharing!

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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:07 am

Thank you for your wonderful words–I don’t know what to say to your compliments other than thank you.

I’m sorry you had to go through that loss. I don’t know what it’s like to lost a parent like that, and no matter what, at DSM said it-it sucks. He’d be proud of you, I’m sure.

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laura August 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm

oh, my darling noa. first, your bravery–oh, your bravery! i am rather new to your site–have been lurking a bit lately–and every single time i visit, i just want to reach through and hug you and love you all up because i think you are AMAZING. your humor, your insights, and yes, the times when you’re NOT funny–all of this and more shows me that you are a gift to us. to the world. thank you for being.

you are so courageous to talk about your loss, to be so vulnerable with us. there are, of course, all kinds of things that are hard to talk about, but loss–and grief in general–can be one of the hardest. because it shows us in a vulnerable state, and who likes that? but what i’ve found is that being vulnerable, and grieving, are actually ways that we show our truest, deepest humanity. because what it shows us is that we are not meant to live this life alone. we are meant to live for and celebrate one another, no matter what that time looks like with and for that other person. so when there IS a loss, it’s only natural that we would grieve. and what a tribute that is to the life lost.

but for me, grief isn’t just related to physical death. yes, i have lost loved ones to cancer and old age, and those losses have affected me deeply. deeply. but i also have experienced the loss of someone who is still here.

my mother suffers from a form of schizophrenia. ever since i was 10 years old, she’s been ill. as i got older, she grew even more ill. she was so ill by the time i was in college, she had already lived in psych hospitals for extended periods. and by the time i was in my mid-twenties, she’d lived for a year in a state mental hospital two hours from my parents’ home. my father (my hero) drove 4-hours round-trip almost every single day to visit her. “in sickness and in health,” he vowed before God. i’ll never forget visiting her there on christmas day, bars on the windows and nurses checking the gifts we’d brought for her to make sure there wasn’t anything that could harm her (zippers, glass, etc.). and my brother refused to come with us.

for all the years she was ill, she wasn’t able to be there for me, or even with me, really. her body was present, but that was it. she was so ill, so very, very ill, and her mind–something none of us could see or touch or heal–was the culprit. we all lived in a prison, but she most of all. devastating doesn’t cut it.

when i was 28 she attempted suicide. three days on life support. i thought i would lose her physically as well. those were three terrifying days for our family. thank God, she survived. but she continues to recover.

the loss of my mother–from the time i was 10 years old until the time she came off of life support 18 years later–is something i continue to grieve every single day.

we must grieve, noa. we must. we cannot carry that loss in our hearts, all bottled up and hidden. that energy, that grief and loss only gets into our cells. if we are to honor the life of the person we’ve lost–whether they have died or gone away in some other capacity–we must grieve out loud. we must honor them in that way.

love you. and sending hugs from pittsburgh.

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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:11 am

Oh my Lord.

What do I say here? What can I possibly say to convey first my thanks to you for your words, and my thanks to you for sharing what can’t be an easy story to share.

I hate to say that you almost made me feel lucky. At least my father isn’t here at all–I have no daily physical reminder of his existence. He’s gone, I can’t see him, and now, for that, I’m weirdly grateful.

I’m sorry you had to deal with such pain. I hope time helps. I hope you grieve out loud.

Hugs from Texas.

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Amanda August 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm

My hearts breaks for you and the amazing words that you wrote. Thank you. I gave my Dad a great big hug because I just realized that someday that won’t be a possibilty.
“There’s a fine edge to new grief, it severs nerves, disconnects reality–there’s mercy in a sharp blade. Only with time, as the edge wears, does the real ache begin.”
— Christopher Moore

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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:06 am

Thank you for the support, Amanda. I’m glad your dad got a hug from this!

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Corinne August 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Sending love and hugs for you. Your post was delicate and raw. Thank you for opening your heart.
Corinne recently posted..I lived in a closet.

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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:05 am

Thank you, Corinne, for your support!

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nadine August 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm

My dad died when I was 17. There’s always that part that’s empty, even all these years later. I hate how much I can identify with everything you wrote. What gets me is that I never really knew my dad as a person, just as a dad. There’s so much about him that I hear from others that I’m sad I never got to learn about him first-hand. Just stories… they’re all stories and you forget someone’s face in your memories and it all sucks.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:05 am

I’m sorry you didn’t get to know your Dad very well either. I know he’d be proud of you!

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Autumn August 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm

My dad died 3 months ago this Friday. The best I do can do is make it through each day, each hour, each minute. Thank you for sharing.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 2:04 am

It gets better. I promise. Thank you for sharing, as well.

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gwendomama August 17, 2011 at 2:23 am

saw and missed you in san diego.
death, healing, platitudes and all that:
elijah was my 2nd child; he died when he was 13 mos+11 days (carefully counted) old. except i don’t really count the 11th since he was born at 6ish pm and died at 3ish am. really though, who is to argue? (dead is dead)
he’s been torn out of my arms (he’s in god’s arms now….) (my arms were the best arms, motherfuckers)
i know that many found it alarming when i found irony (expressed in humor, motherfuckers, because…..if you remember, according to damning predictions….my house was supposed to burn down!!) in the fact that i had to evacuate my home twice in 14 months due to forest fires, and had to pack up, in addition to my live children, cats and chickens, my son’s ashes into the getaway vehicle…SO THEY WOULDN’T BURN UP IN THE FIRE, GENIUSES!!!

So I guess my advice isn’t very helpful.

Other than what i have learned SO FAR, which can basically be distilled into this:
Grief comes in waves because otherwise it will KILL you. You can’t handle it all at once. Hence, the waves. So you can sometimes see it coming, if you are looking for it. Mostly, you won’t be. Because who looks for grief?
Also? It will never be ‘over’, or ‘the same’.
Think of your experience with grief as less than a struggle, but more of a ‘slinky’. It’s going to go on and on.
And it will be, what it will be, and you will be who you are because of it, and not.

I love your courage. It makes you write.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I’m sorry about your loss, but thankful for your comment. I also thank you for comparing grief to a slinky, because that’s just fucking awesome. But now slinkies may be tainted forever.

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iampisspot August 17, 2011 at 7:52 am

Noa, this piece of writing was beautiful. Absoloutely beautiful.

So beautiful in fact, that it touched so many of your readers’ enough for them to open their hearts and tell their story.

Your writing is a gift.

I lost my Mum 11 years ago, she took her own life, I was 18. For years after her death, I carried a huge boulder of grief around in my arms. It completely took over my life. Now, 11 years later, that same boulder of grief has become a small and smooth pebble that time helped to erode. I keep that pebble in my pocket now.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Pebbles are a hell of a lot easier to carry around–and every once in a while they get in your shoe and make you sad.

Thank you for your comment and support.

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Noriko August 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Thank you, for helping so many of us open up our hearts and express our own grief and experiences.
My brother-in-law lost his twins in utero at 20 weeks. I still think of them often, and miss any experiences I would have had with them.

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Noa August 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I hope I never have to experience the loss of a child–the loss of memories of what could have been would be so much more difficult to deal with for a child. My father was young, but he was grown, at least.

Thank you for your comment.

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Tans August 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Late to the party, but this. Every word of this. I lost my grandma after an extremely fast bout with colon cancer. Only looking back, it wasn’t fast enough. She was diagnosed Christmas of 1996 and by September of 1997, she was gone. She died exactly 12 hours after the Princess of Wales. She was my best of friends while I was growing up. I shudder to think what my teenage years would have been had she not been a part of them. She was my closest confidant and I wept like there was a hole shot right thorough my heart the day she passed. Every day I think about her. Every. Day. That’s no lie. I missed her on my wedding day. I miss her on the holidays. But I miss her most on that random Tuesday afternoon when I have something that I know only she would understand or not judge or just sit and gossip about with me. It still hurts, and I’m pretty sure time isn’t healing these wounds.

Bless you, my dear, for putting so eloquently what so many of us feel. We can only go on, knowing that we were so lucky to have what little time we did with those we miss most.

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Noa August 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Having that time is little consolation some days, I know. Time doesn’t heal, but it can help it–sorry–scab over. As it was so eloquently put earlier, sometimes it’ll get ripped away and you’ll feel awful, but eventually, it’ll cover over again. You just keep moving.

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bschooled August 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm

We have so much in common it’s unreal. I lost my Dad in 1995.
He was (and still is) the funniest man I’ve ever known.

I’ve tried, but to this day I still haven’t had the courage to write about him.
Once again, you’ve blown me away.
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Noa August 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I’m sorry Bea(arthur). I was a fucking mess writing this post, and now I can’t bring myself to read it anymore because it makes me too sad. I’m not sure how helpful this was to me–but it’s nice to know how many people have similar stories. I hope you know you have the support as well, anytime you need it.

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SnarkMistress August 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I just got around to reading this post. It’s so true, what you said about missing him the most when things are going well. I lost my father after a 13 year battle with Lupus in 1995 (I had just turned 13) and barely got to know my father at all. It’s been almost 16 years now and his face and my memories of him have started to fade and it’s strange. Like my time with him was all a dream. My husband also resembles my father when he was younger (and healthier), not really sure what to think about that though. I often think about my dad when big things happen – knowing he’ll never see me get married, have a baby, or graduate from college. Kinda strange we’ve had such a similar experience. Hearts and hugs. Even though I don’t really KNOW you, I know you, at least in some way.
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Noa August 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Shared experiences can bring strangers close. I’m sorry you’ll not get to live your life with him–but thank you for sharing.

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Lena Teegal August 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm

This is actually a very nice diversion from the regularly scheduled Noa. It was very sweet.

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Noa August 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Why thank you. Normal Noa will bring the crazy back soon.

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Norway August 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I must be the luckiest person in the world, because the only real death I’ve gone through was the death of my cat. But I have cried so many times over people I never knew, and you and your father are now on the list. The way you are able to reach inside and share this with us is so beautiful, and you’re so strong.

Today I was having a horrible day, and broke down crying for the better part of half an hour for seemingly no good reason. Then I went here, because I knew you could cheer me up no matter what, and I saw this post. And in the most unexpected way, you did. You showed me how wonderful my life is, and how lucky I am. And I can never thank you enough.

Stay strong, stay brilliant. We all love you here. Whether we’ve met you or not, we do. Promise.

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Noa August 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the statement that you come to me when you have a bad day (sorry it was a sad post). I have used humor for the better part of my life to pull me through bad shit–I’m glad it can work for you as well.

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Cat August 20, 2011 at 5:26 am

Your words are much like what I imagine my daughter will someday feel about her dad. He was killed in a car wreck when she was 10 months old. She has no memories of him because she was so young. As for me, I feel his absence every day. Not sure which is worse – maybe both, equally. I hate that she’ll never know so many things about him – like the sound of his voice or laugh with him over silly songs he’d make up just for her while he played guitar.
She will only know him through me. It’s been 8 yrs and although it’s difficult to find that balance between – ‘this is who your dad was…’ and ‘some guy mom talks about…’ – I’m getting it done – I think.
I hope.
Do our best and accept that it’s all we can do, and keep moving forward, yeh?

I’m so sorry for your loss.

God bess.

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Noa August 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Cat,

You’re doing a hell of a job. Speaking from your daughter’s point of view, as long as you tell her who her father really was, you’re doing it right. People, for a very long time, would only tell me the wonderful and happy and perfect parts of my father–and that’s not who he was. My mom made sure I also knew about his disappointments, the mistakes he made in his business, and how he fixed them. His best friend told me about all the times he got in trouble in college. I value those stories probably more than anything because then he seemed REAL to me. Most stories made him out to be a fairy tale–it was the stories of the real man that made me feel more connected.

No matter what, you’re tough as hell, and I’m sorry for your loss.

Noa

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Ann August 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Thank you for sharing your feelings and experiences. For all the human fuckery that the Internet can stir up, it’s the little grace notes like these, that allow us to share our lives in a very real way, that make me glad this medium exists. For myself, in a 10 year period, starting when I was 35 , I lost my sister’s husband to suicide, my sister to a quick and nasty cancer, and my dad to what I think was essentially broken-heart disease. Rounded all of that out with my teenage daughter developing bipolar disorder, and getting a nasty dose of cancer myself. I walk every day with sorrow and grief, and that’s just how it is-can’t do anything about the twists and turns my path, and that of my loved ones, has taken. I guess all any of us can do is try to learn a little something from all the absurd crap life throws at us,and hopefully let our grief lead us to compassion and a greater sense of connection with our fellow sufferers. There’s an awful lot of us out here. Thanks again.

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Noa August 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Your experiences in life don’t make you–those experiences are not sentient. How you react to them does make you, and I can see very plainly from your comment that you’re a fantastic badass, because you really got handed the shit end of the deal. I want you to always remember that you’re not alone in suffering–we’re all here for you.

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Rebecca Rhielle August 24, 2011 at 3:23 am

Oh honey, what a heartbreakingly beautiful post. And for all those who posted after…it just goes to show you that so many of us have felt that loss, that void that simply cannot be filled with anything else, no matter how hard we try.

I miscarried two precious babies inside of one year. I honestly thought the grief would drive me mad, but I had a live son I needed to be strong for. That is where your words really struck me – that we don’t move on but we move forward.

I got to feel my body change and grow with these beautiful little lives, but I never got to hold them, nurse them, name them, hear them laugh, or smell their hair while we cuddled after bath time. I will never know what their voices would sound like, or what their favorite breakfast might have been.

These are things I cannot ever have, no matter how much I might want to will them into existence. And for someone like me who makes shit happen, that is the hardest pill to swallow.

I can only tell you that your father would be so very proud of the woman you have become, and the beautiful, soft soul that lurks under all your copious amounts of funny. However, if he is available to read your posts now over your shoulder, he might be in trouble a bit with the rest of the spirits for disturbing the peace. Your humor is certain to transcend the veil, my darling, as is your immense love for your Papa.

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Noa August 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm

You made me cry again.

Thank you, Rebecca, for your beautiful and immensely encouraging words. I can say without an ounce of doubt that the world will miss those two you lost, because you turn out some fantastic children.

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Tina September 15, 2011 at 9:04 am

Wow. That brought tears to my eyes. I found your blog yesterday and your writing is amazing. Grief is a very tangled web and you’re absolutely right, we don’t move on, we move forward.

Thank you for sharing such a personal thing with the world.
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Noa September 17, 2011 at 12:59 am

Thank you for your comment! The only choice we have is to keep walking–but writing this was very cathartic.

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Andrea October 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

That last sentence expresses everything. I never gets easier. My brother died almost three years ago and I still feel like it happened yesterday. It is the hardest shit I will ever have to deal with. After that I feel like I could shoot babies out for 5 days straight and it not even phase me. Which would be awful because I don’t want kids and I would probably lose them all. This post was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes and made me think of his daughter who was a year and a half when it happened. Will she feel this way? She has photos of him in her room. Will she have days where she can’t look at them? It makes me fear the future for her. He loved her so much, I just wish he was around to show it. It is blogs like this that personally help me with my work days that are silent. Laughing helps me through it and I am here, thanking you for your contribution to that.

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Noa October 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

We’re all in this game together, yo. It never gets better, but we learn to share our stories and feel a little better each day.

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Whitney January 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm

I lost my dad 8 years ago. It was very sudden & it was the hardest thing I hope to ever go through. I was 20 when he died, living at home & working for him at the family business. My entire world was turned upside down. There was no place for me to turn that his absense wasn’t rubbed in my face. Since then he has been joined by a couple of sisters & brother’s in law. Their children ask me when the pain will start to go away. I have a hard time telling them that it takes a lifetime. Yes there are moments where you are able to function, go about your lives but when you stop & allow yourself to remember them, the pain you’ve felt since losing them, you can be brought right back to the day they passed away. Then there’s the weird guilt I’ve noticed since trying to pull myself together. Guilt that I’m alive, living, laughing, making jokes about some stupid shit…when he’s gone. Guilt that I am happy & loving my life. I try to remember that it doesn’t mean that my life wouldn’t be more complete with him here & it sure as hell doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t burn from missing him every single time I hear Willy Nelson.

I’m sorry that you were so young when your father died. I feel blessed to have had so much time with my dad. But I too have fading memories & I don’t know to hold on to them. It’s almost like the more I try to hear his laugh or see his smile, the more blurry it all becomes. I wrote a post on my blog this last month when the date of my dad’s death approached. I wasn’t going to but then I did because one of my best friend’s dad lost his fight with cancer the same day. I guess I got scared, I deleted it. Thank you for posting yours. Also, I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger.

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Noa January 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

My heart hurts each time I hear The Dance by Garth Brooks. I know that sickening feeling well and I’m sorry you have to know it too. He sounds like a great man–I’m sad you didn’t get to keep him longer.

I have tried to write this post a thousand times, and this is the only time it didn’t feel frightening to post. One day, your story will be ready to be put out there. Mine took 20 years.

Also–thank you!

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