Once upon a time, I loved Fridays. I loved how Friday perched on the edge of the weekend: a bundle of anticipation, of fun not yet had,and of free time not yet spent. I looked forward to the Friday buzz, felt it deep down in my bones—the tickle of all the good things yet to come.
That all changed three months ago today. April 26th, 2013 was a perfect Friday. A beautiful, sunny day. The first truly nice day to come along on what had been a very gray, rainy spring. One of the wettest on record, in fact. My father, an avid cyclist, had been chomping at the bit to get out and enjoy a long ride. That Friday morning he packed up his gear and hit the road, looking forward to his first ride to work of the season. (Despite many protests from myself and other family members, my dad would ride his bike to work when the weather allowed, which was a 30 mile trip ONE way). I can only imagine what he was feeling that gorgeous Friday morning, the sun warming his back, the wind in his face, as he headed out on his ride. I can only pray his heart was full of all the happy possibilities the best kind of Friday can bring. I hope so with every particle of my being because in a flash, my father was gone. Some compassionate passers-by found him on the side of the road, fingers still gripping the handlebars.
I was at a Friday writing session with some writer buddies when I got the jumbled phone call from my sister…time slowed down and I could hear the blood rush in my ears as I numbly packed my stuff and headed for the hospital, not knowing exactly what had happened, not knowing if my father was alive.
When I arrived at the hospital I was led to a room in the ER, and when they pulled back the curtain I stepped in to the oddly dark and quiet space on wobbly feet. And gazed down at my dad, who looked asleep. Surely, he was sleeping.
There are no words for what happens in those first few moments you are in the presence of the empty shell of someone you loved deeply for the whole of your existence. If you have been through it, you know.
Since that Friday, my life was measured in painful seconds, minutes, hours days…and finally weeks as I counted and collected each Friday as it passed, waking up to wonder…what if this Friday had been different…what if this Friday he was still here.
I can remember leaving the hospital and feeling a bizarre sense of disorientation as I drove down sunny streets full of people rushing here and there, getting ready to enjoy their Friday evening. The axis of my world had stopped spinning, and I could not absorb the reality that life was still moving around me, pushing forward as normal. At first I was afraid to share my grief in public, but in this age of tech-connectivity, getting the word out to friends and family via social media was an unexpected blessing, the warmth and comfort from the thoughtful comments a surprise. I don’t know if I would say misery loves company, but somehow, the pain is dulled when you realize how many other people you know have suffered through similar heartbreaking loss, and have come through it on the other side.
If I’ve learned one thing in the last 3 months, it’s that time DOES NOT heal all wounds. And no, it doesn’t get easier— but you do get stronger.
Last Friday afternoon I sat with more than a thousand other writers at the RWA National conference and listened to a luncheon speech presented by author Kristan Higgins. At one point Kristan described some of the darker moments in her life, including the sudden tragic loss of her own father who was hit by a drunk driver. Yes, I was a slobbery mess by the end of her speech…but listening to her helped. She’d suffered horrendous loss and yet had found the strength and courage to chase her dreams and create stories with heart and a happy ending.
Yes, Fridays are hard. Some more than others. But the only way past is through, and as I make it through another Friday, I find myself cherishing the wonderful things in my life: my husband and my daughters, my dear friends, my health…and I know that every day is a Friday…perched on the moment of possibility: with memories yet to make, dreams yet to achieve, and love still to share.
***Blogging about grief isn’t easy…after all this a very personal subject, and everyone deals with loss differently. But in those first harsh weeks after losing my dad, I found myself strangely fortified by reading blog posts from others who had lost their fathers suddenly and unexpectedly. I don’t know why, but somehow it helped to know I wasn’t alone. So while I mainly wrote this to post help myself purge a bit of what is heavy on my heart, should anyone out there who finds themselves unable to sleep or think past the immediacy of loss stumble across this post, you’re not alone. You may walk this path at your own pace, and shoulder the burden in your own way, but on this road, you are not alone***