This I Believe

Elizabeth - Evansville, Indiana
Entered on October 6, 2008
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I believe that I am one of the lucky ones. By this, I mean that I never lost anyone close to me until I was nearly forty years old. There is longevity in my family. My great-grandmother is still living at 102. I now subscribe to the belief that everyone lives two lives-the one before the death of someone close to you, and the one after. The longer you live without enduring that pain makes you blessed.

My father died of lung cancer when I was thirty-nine. I have had other relatives, acquaintances, and co-workers who have passed on, and I experienced “in the moment” sadness, a feeling of loss and then going back to my life as usual. When my father died, life as I knew it was over.

Although, throughout my life, I have had bumps in the road-nothing prepared me for the “aftermath” of life without dad. This new life included a grief that I could not harness, a bail of tears, physical sickness and a constant sore throat from the uncontrollable screaming.

I thought to myself, How long will this torture go on? I was told that the pain would never go away. I was told that the tools that I would develop to manage the pain would see me through the tough times.

I began thinking about others I knew, who were not as fortunate as me. People who suffered this pain much earlier in their life. My husband lost his mother to cancer when he was twenty-four years old. I know a young mother who tragicaaly lost her five year old daughter. I thought of my daughters who are thirteen and ten, and what it would be like for them to lose their father at this point in their lives. I thought of children my daughters ages suffering just that fate, and how unfair that is.How unfair that their second lives have started so young-how their lives are changed forever, just like mine.

I miss my father on an emotional level that I didn’t even know existed. I handle the pain by living my life one day at a time. I’m finally stopping to smell the flowers. I take long soul-searching walks, and I don’t feel guilty. This is a life that I never would have had time for before the death of my father.

I believe that I am one of the lucky ones. Beyond the grief, if there is such a thing, lies a simple life. As my father gave me everything he could in life, he has given me more than he will ever know in death.

I can smile through the tears now. I can reflect on my life. I can live in the moment. I can go on. This I believe.