This is a hard weekend for me so I find it coincidental and maybe a little ironic that it was my
turn to write again. Most people associate spring and this time of year with rebirth, regrowth and
potential for newness. For me, this time of year reminds me of things that I have lost and what I
am missing out on.
My Dad was/is the greatest man to have graced this planet. He was a family man who loved my
Mom more than anything on this Earth; my sister and I were second to his love for her. He was
loud and quiet all in one. He knew how to say the right thing at the right time, his quick wit is
what people loved the most about him. He was able to read a room and chameleon himself to
what the room needed. Sad room, he could be an empathetic and kind friend. A fun party room,
he could whip out the tunes that would make a room dance the night away. A friendly chat, he
could be the ear that people needed and a voice of reason. He knew a little bit about everything
and because of this, he could talk about sports with one person, pop music with another and
economics with the next. He was a smart man! He had an awesome record collection that he
really prided himself in. He watched TSN every morning, knew every draft in every sport from
basketball to football to hockey. In the quiet I can hear his voice, I can hear his laugh and I can
feel the happy energy that he brought everywhere he went. His fast humour and kind words are
what most who knew him will remember about him. This is why when he lost his voice in 2014
it was so hard for our family and friends. That’s what made him, him!
My Dad was diagnosed with ALS in 2013 and he lived and loved hard until the very end. I don’t
know how a dying man can be the pillar for his family, but he managed to be that. He was
grateful for his family and he was gracious about his life. When he passed on May 9, 2015, that
day then became the hardest day of the year for me. For some reason, this day happens to fall on
or around Mother’s Day every year- sorry Mom you got ripped off! The years that followed my
Dad’s passing were really hard for me and I would dread that date creeping up on me. All the
feelings would flood back and I would feel really overwhelmed and anxious for the weeks
leading up to it.
Loss is a really hard thing, you know? It is so loud and in-your-face when it first happens. The
pain is so surface level and the slightest little thing can rupture the surface and bring you right
back to a memory or moment in time. I couldn’t hear a Bob Seger song in the grocery store or a
John Prine tune on my playlist without it making me cry and miss my Dad something fierce. It
was painful! You know, people really are right when they say time heals all wounds. The loss of
my Dad is still there, I can still be brought to tears, but over these last 6 years, the wound is now
a scar. It is still there but, it isn’t as angry and easy to aggravate. I have accepted this as just part
of my journey. I have also accepted that this pain has been a key part in developing me into who
I am meant to be.
In the last couple years, I have been able to listen to all the music that reminded me of my him
and I can actually smile and not well up with tears, and honestly, I enjoy it again! I can see a
picture of my Dad without wanting to bury my head in a pillow and bawl and those pictures
actually make me happy now. I can now purposefully do things that used to break my heart, to
honour my Dad and help me feel close to him. But, that’s just on a regular day, not in May! This
weekend, I admit, is still really really hard. I just give myself permission to get through the day as best I can and that’s the only expectation for the day. I have learned that survival on May 9th is the only thing I have to do!
I dread this time of year as it approaches because it reminds me of everything I miss and wish I
could have. I hate May because it reminds me of how I was robbed. I hate May because it ruined
what our family had. It reminds me that my Dad isn’t here to walk my sister down the aisle and
isn’t there for me to watch me as I venture into a parenting role. I miss my Dad very much. I
miss his words and reassurance. I miss the back and forth banter. I miss the way that man made
me feel about myself and how I felt that I could do anything in this world knowing he was in my
corner. I miss the way that he looked at my mom. I miss the way that he would listen. I miss the
way that he would smile his crooked smile. I miss his hugs and affection. I miss his intelligence
and words of clarity. I miss his laugh and how he would howl watching something funny on tv. I
miss the way that he would listen to music, tapping his foot to the beat. I even miss the things that
drove me crazy like the way he would jingle the change in his pocket, and would watch TV as I
tried to tell him about my day. I just miss him!
I know that before I know it, this sad anniversary will be over and it will be June before I know
it. I know that in time, May won’t suck as much as it does right now!
So as the world celebrates all the Moms this weekend, I’ll be trying to listen to the Beatles or a
Segar song without wanting to fall apart. I may even open a fruit and nut bar and have a little
taste. I may try to drink a beer and watch a game without wanting to break down. I know that this
weekend can be hard for a lot of people, especially those who have lost their own mothers and
grandmothers. I’ll be there right along with you!
I miss you, Dad.
I am a 33 year old Step-Mom to three kids who would describe me as a dramatic, fun-loving hopeless romantic (insert eyeroll). Transplanted from Pickering, Ontario and currently living in Calgary, Alberta. My friends would describe me as an open-book, a safe space and an ever evolving shoulder to cry on (my friend told me to say that). I work with children with special needs; a career inspired by my involvement with Willowjak. I have been thrown some pretty big curve balls in my short time here on this planet but, have faced them with a good book in hand and a cup of tea on my night stand. My hope is that what I have experienced in my life can be of use to others. Some support to prove that we are not alone; though we may feel like we are, that we are seen; though we feel invisible and that we have a voice; though we may not know we have one yet.
You can hear more about Michelle’s story when she appeared as a guest on Willowjak’s ‘Choose Your Own After’, by listening HERE.