Monday, February 26, 2018

Alone

I wrote this last week.  Last week was a BAD week for me emotionally.  The weather was grey and rainy every day, and I struggled to get out of bed daily (but I did it). Maybe it was the weather, maybe just a huge wave of grief.  Either way, this week feels so much better already, but I want to share still since I haven't been journaling publicly for the last few weeks and because I know there are others that feel the same way.  

"Grief comes in unexpected surges...mysterious cues that set off a reminder of grief.  It comes crashing like a wave, sweeping me in its crest twisting me inside out...then recedes." - Tony Talbot

I’ve been told on numerous occasions that grief is a lonely journey.  I agree.  

I’ve also been told that everyone grieves differently and in their own way.  Again, I agree. 

-My grief feels heavy.  Like I’m weighted down.  I know I’m not alone, but my sadness makes me feel isolated.  

It seems that we are a community (saying a nation feels too big for my world) of people that find it uncomfortable when others are grieving.  My friends and family want me to ‘be happy’ or ‘be better’ or ‘be fine’ because grief makes people uncomfortable.  I’m trying to accept that this is their issue, not mine.  It’s nonetheless stressful when it feels as if I’m being rushed through my grief.  I’ve learned to tell people what I need from them; I’ve learned to tell loved ones what is and isn’t helpful for me.  This is a huge step for me! 

Honestly, I’m not fine right now. And that’s ok.  Losing my dad is huge. I'm still trying to process living the rest of my life without him. 

My mom and dad have loved me since the moment I was born. My mom often tells me that’s she’s loved me since the moment I was conceived.  No one else on this earth has loved me longer, harder, or more unconditionally than my parents. 

My dad was the 1st man that I loved— My 1st love ❤️.  We’ve loved each other for 45 years so how is it that I should not grieve him the same amount of time? 

I miss him.  I will always miss him. And right now that makes me incredibly sad.  

Of course, there are days that I go through the motions of my everyday life, but there is an underlying sadness that fills me.  My heart aches, my chest hurts, and tears still streak my face daily.  

When there is a moment of happiness I feel like he is there with me which should make me happy, but more often than not it circles me back to my sadness. 

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for a scheduled check-up, but instead of doing the blood work and check up she ended up prescribing Zoloft and told me to come back in 4 weeks.  I hesitated to fill the prescription but the thought of something being able to lessen the pain did sound enticing.  The hesitation continued, and it took me a few days to pick it up. Once I picked it up, I read everything about it and the possible side effects.   I decided to go for it - what could I possibly have to lose at this point?  

My day one was awful - I was SUPER nauseated, weak, my heart was racing, and my anxiety was through the roof.  I had read that some of that was normal, so I tried again the next day with the same symptoms but so much worse. I couldn’t even get out of bed I was so sick.   

I decided not to try it again.  The doctor encouraged me to try a step-up dose, but I’ve decided not to go that route. I think I just need to walk through the grief and pain and mourn when I need to mourn.  I know this year will be hard - but I’m pretty strong, so I am going to power through and just allow myself to feel every bit of it.  

My decision not to take the Zoloft is mine and mine alone.  I do not think there is anything wrong with taking it - I know it can help.  I just don't think it is the right decision for me right now.  

To live into the future depends on my response to the reality of what I am experiencing. Temporarily, I need to create insulation from the full force of what I am coming to know.  If I felt it all at once, I might die. But feel it I must.  - Understanding Your Grief

***********************************************************************************

I found these pictures in a scrapbook that I made Dad years ago so I thought I would share them here since they made me smile. 

This one is me and Dad at Joe T Garcia's I think for my 18th birthday - our favorite restaurant ever!  We had so many special meals and memories there!


I don't remember where this one was taken but I think it was perhaps Christmas Eve and I was in my early twenties.


This one was at his house - I was again in my early twenties and had just chopped off my hair and started wearing it straight & he thought it was awesome! 


And this one just makes me laugh because I am wearing a Christmas sweater and he is wearing Christmas suspenders and I think we are being serious! 




Monday, January 29, 2018

Did He Ever Know ...

Today my mom came over to help me go through some of my dad's things and put away some old family albums.  While we were going through the old albums, we found something I had written about my grandfather's passing.  Today it has been 28 years since my grandfather passed away and one month since I lost my dad; we both cried reading what I had written in 1991:

January 29, 1990, was a relatively regular day or as regular as my days could be at the time.  It had been a good day at school.  I remember staying late after school talking with Mrs. Rothman, my biology teacher, about a few problems I was having.  I was happy that I didn't have to work after school because I was pretty tired.  I went home and immediately decided to take a nap.  My brother was in the next room playing Nintendo.  As I was lying there, I couldn't help but think about my papa, and I felt so guilty because all I could think about was how I wish he would mercifully pass on.

It seemed as if he had been sick forever.  I could hardly remember the last time I had seen him in the yard fiddling with something that needed to be fixed for Grandma.  These were the kinds of things that he loved to do.

At that moment all I could think of was him lying in the hospital bed in my grandparent's living room looking so helpless... a look I had never seen on my papa before.  He had always been such a strong man... strong in many more ways than one.  He was so strong in his faith that it seemed unbelievable to me that God could be doing this to my papa.  Never once did I see him give up on his fight to stay alive and be with the people he loved so much.

I thought about how long he had been sick and how every year the doctors would tell us that he would not make it through the holidays.  It had almost become routine to hear that, and then Papa would do just fine, and we would have a great Christmas.  It wouldn't even seem as if he was sick.  He would be up playing with the grandchildren.  It had only been a little over a month since last Christmas.  Everything as still very clear in my mind.

I was thinking about these things... so many thoughts running through my mind.  It startled me when the phone rang.  My brother and I picked up at the same time.  It seemed every time the phone rang everyone would race for it.

We both said "hello."  It was my mom.  I knew she had been with Papa all day.  Her voice was very shaky but calm as she told us my grandfather had just passed away.  I cannot even begin to explain the feeling I felt.  I just sat there.  My brother and Mom were completely tuned out.  I couldn't talk.  I couldn't even breathe.  I just sat there forgetting to hang up the phone.  I just sat there and cried.  It was a feeling of sadness, not reality.  Later that evening my brother and I drove over to my grandparent's house to join the rest of the family.  On the way there, we didn't talk; not a single word came out of our mouths.  The radio was on, but I only remember one song, "In the Living Years." I just started crying so hard that I didn't think I could drive the rest of the way.

All of the sudden I just stopped crying and I thought to myself" "it isn't real; when I get there Papa will be sitting in his blue chair watching TV or in the kitchen helping Gran with dinner."

When we pulled up, I saw many cars there.  I parked behind my mom's car, got out and walked to the door.  I stood there for a second preparing myself.  When I went in, the living room was empty.  I walked into the kitchen and saw my family sitting around the table with tear-streaked faces.  As soon as I saw my gran, I started crying again.  She gave me the biggest hug. I couldn't let go; I didn't want to let go of her.  As we sat there talking about the funeral arrangements every once in a while someone would start crying.  We would all stop talking until there were done.

After a while I got the nerve to ask, "What was it like?" Who was with him?" "Did he feel any pain?" My mom began telling me that she and my aunt had been with him all night and day and for some reason, they could tell he was considerably worse today.  My grandmother told them to call and ask my other aunts and uncle to come home quickly.  As they were all trying to reach them, Papa was trying to talk to Gran.  He told her how much he loved her.  Once his children arrived, they all gathered around him and cried.  He passed away with the people he loved most there with him.

The next couple of days were hard.  We had to hold his funeral three days after his passing to allow people to fly into town.  I seemed to be okay during the two nights of family visitation at the funeral home with a lot of people constantly around.  It was very hard for me to cry in front of them.  I wanted to be strong for my mom and my gran.

The day of the funeral was cold and wet.  We got in the cars and were led to the funeral home.  Once there, I saw many people.  The entire chapel was full.

I don't remember the whole thing... just the end when a man from my aunt's church sang, "Wind Beneath My Wings." I started crying so hard.  Right then and there I realized that my grandfather was the wind beneath my wings... he was my hero.  I love him and still miss him very much.  On January 29th it will be one year since his death, and he is still very much alive in my heart and my memories.




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Good Days * Bad Days * Tsunami Days

The waves continue to come. I’ve had a couple of good days and a couple of bad days. Waves. Today there are a lot of waves.  More accurately, today there have been tsunamis. One step forward ten steps backward. 

I miss my dad so much.  I want to see him. Smell him. Hug him. Just once more! I need more time.  Even just one more day.  Please, just one more day.  

Today has been filled with a lot of crying, really full on sobbing.  I’m so damn mad.  I have questions to ask him. Things I still want to know. Things that I need to say. I would give anything for just one more day.  One more I love you.  Once more for him to say my name... Laura Leigh. ❤️

Today I’m filled with regrets, what-ifs, and so much sorrow. Waves.

I also need to say; I have made some forward movement.  I’m trying to accomplish one thing every day. Even if that one thing is getting out of bed.  Last week I worked out three times.  This week my goal is four times. I’ve started taking my Plexus products which have helped my body begin to heal.  I’m trying to do a little work each day, but for some reason, it’s a definite trigger.  I want to work! I love my job and enjoy helping others so much, but I'm struggling with being able to help others while navigating my way through my sorrow. 
There are still days that getting out of bed is all I can accomplish.  Afternoons and evenings are my low times, and I allow myself that time.  Today though has been exhausting, and I can barely keep my weepy eyes open, yet I know sleep won’t come.  It’s such a vicious cycle.  

I love looking at pictures of my dad ... this one of him with my grandparents makes me smile!

Don, Daphna, and Bobby Williams


After my grandfather died, one day my dad & I were out running errands, and when we came to a stop to park, he fell apart.  I remember it like it was yesterday, him weeping, and my 18-year old self-trying my very best to comfort him.  My dad had felt the intense grief of losing his father. The same pain I’m feeling now.  Had I known then how awful it is I would have held him a little longer and a little tighter.  

Weeping is perhaps the most human and universal of relief measures. -Karl Menninger

Bobby Don and Don Oscar Williams
It is incredible how much my dad looked like his dad the older he got. While my dad was in the hospital, I really started noticing how much they resembled one another.  

One Breath, One Step. Repeat.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Three Weeks


Three Weeks today.  It has been three weeks, and the tears are still falling and falling and falling.  I learned this week that it is ok to take my time and grieve on my timeline.  There was a moment that I was feeling rushed and embarrassed for still grieving so hard, but this is my journey, and I plan on honoring and walking through the pain. Unfortunately, our culture does expect people to grieve quickly and move on.  I think it is because grief makes other people uncomfortable.  Even Ian is struggling with my sadness - it is tough for him to see me in so much pain. He wants to fix it for me, but that's just not possible.

I believe that friends thought after the memorial service I would have "closure," but I do not. I am glad we honored my dad and that friends and family were able to say their goodbyes, but I am not sure I am ready for closure. 

Closure: a feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved.

Am I supposed to turn off my grief because we’ve had a memorial for my dad?  I’m STILL grieving.  My body aches, my heart hurts, and my mind races all of the time. Nothing for me is resolved.



I can’t sleep. I want to sleep.  
I can’t eat. I want to eat.  
My body aches. Please stop aching.  
My heart hurts. Please stop hurting. 
My body is filled with dread.  What am I dreading? Life without my dad? I can’t make the feeling go away.  



Grief is very different for everyone who experiences it. Grief is messy and ugly and exhausting. 

There are days that I don't get out of bed, days that I don't shower; everything feels so cumbersome and difficult to maneuver. Right now I am focusing on one breath, one step, repeat.  I will continue to share my grief - honesty begins with us - it begins with me. There is no reason to rush through it - if it makes someone else feel uncomfortable, then that is their problem, not mine.  I do not say that unkindly but rather to let others know that it is ok to grieve when and where and how you need to. 

One Breath. One Step. Repeat. 


Dad's presence will always be with me - all I have to do is look in a mirror and he's right there. 


Monday, January 15, 2018

Celebration of Life for Dad

On Saturday, January 13th we had a private family memorial for my dad at his house.  It was perfect! My cousin, Jeff spoke loving words about my dad and our family.  We watched a beautiful slideshow of dad with beautiful music, my step-mom, Jeri and I both read personal eulogies, and my sweet girls tried to read a poem, but both broke down, so I took over and read it for them - how did I do that?  It broke my heart to see them so sad. Afterwards, we had a lovely family dinner provided by my mom and her family,  Jeri's sister's family, & Tracy Williams.  My amazing friends, Shay, Rachael, and Alice put it all together and cleaned up for us - I do not know how we would have gotten it all done without them.



Afterwards, we went to my dad's local hangout, Volcano's Sports Bar and Grill where we had a public memorial with over 150 of his friends and members of his shuffleboard family.  It was live-streamed and watched by hundreds of others that loved my dad.  He was honored for his service as a Vietnam Vet with the playing of Taps, and there was a presentation of a folded American flag to Jeri. Then to end the service, there was a sign dedication for my dad's "corner" in the bar. My dad didn't drink alcohol so I love they also included his favorite non-alcoholic beer, ODoul's with the sign. Ian gave a beautiful toast and then there was a huge shuffleboard tournament in his honor with over 70 participants.  Special thanks to those that helped make this happen! Barb, Bethany, Shane and all of the others that donated!




Instead of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in my dad's name to Camp Sweeney. I do not know the total amount raised for Camp Sweeney at this time, but Dad's shuffleboard family raised over $1,000 plus there have been countless other donations, so I am hopeful that we have raised enough to send at least one camper in his name this summer.  I feel so honored and appreciative.

Saturday was much easier for me than I imagined I told myself I would get through it to make my dad proud and I did.  Plus, being surrounded by friends and family that love my dad I felt a sense of comfort surrounding me. The day after the memorial for my dad has been wonderful and awful. I woke up surrounded by friends and family at my dad’s house. I believe Saturday I was going through the motions. Being brave for my family and my children. Once I got home yesterday, I was once again overwhelmed with grief.  Now it’s about reality and trying to figure out how to get back into a world that doesn’t include my dad anymore. It’s almost like starting over, back at square one. I feel heavy.  That is the only way I have been able to describe it.  My grief is weighing me down, making it hard to do anything other than cry and sleep (which only happens if medicated). I keep watching the same movie over and over; I find it hard to do anything required of me including mom-ing, work, housework, laundry and I cannot watch live TV or be on social media to see that the life is indeed going on without my dad. It is all so difficult.

I want to share what I wrote for my dad and read at his memorial:

For all of the hardest things in my life, my dad has been beside me, held me up, and hugged me when I cried.  Today though It feels like half of me is missing.  There are no adequate words to describe the emptiness, the pain, the absolute heartbreak. I don’t even know how to live in a world without my dad.  I thought for a moment I was out of tears, but they continue to fall and fall and fall.  At times it’s hard to breathe, and my body aches to hug him one more time.  I feel broken.  

My dad was someone different for each of you here but... this is my dad for me... He is easy going. He is also fierce and not to be messed with. He is all the cuss words that you can imagine. He is my way or the other my way but never your way. He is Elton John and blackjack in Vegas. He is homemade vanilla ice cream and spaghettios at Gran and Don's on Sunday afternoon. He is game night and dominoes. He is softball all day long. He is the patience that taught me to water ski and to drive a car - now that I think about it perhaps someone else should have handled the 2nd one.  He’s my tow truck driver. My go-to banker. And repo man. He is a Vietnam Veteran. He is GFC, Quality Paint and Body, Charlie Browns, Northwest National Bank, Tarrant Bank and the Corporate Image. He is Williams Shuffleboard. He got me through a rough patch or two.  He has wiped away my tears, spanked my butt, bailed me out of jail and out of debt. He’s a hundred dollar bill just because.  He is cleanly shaven with a hint of coffee and cigarettes.  He is curly hair and blue eyes.  He is an ice-cold Diet Coke on our long drives. He is my Silent Night, my strength, my temper; he is the best damn shuffleboard player I know. He’s my dad.  He is the Grumpy to my children, and he’s forever in our hearts. 

David, you were my dad’s bother, best friend, confidant, a partner in crime, and always by his side through thick and thin. I know he would want you to stay strong and continue the Williams family legacy in shufflleboard and life.  

My hope for my children is that they have the same strong bond that you and my dad have had since you were children.  I would love to see them grow up and stay as close as the two of you have always been.  

David, I love you very much.  
You’re in charge of all us Williams girls now so ... good luck with that.  ❤️

Jeri, I know at the beginning of our relationship things were strained.  I also know that was my fault.  You’ve always been kind to me, even when I was a shit, and let’s face it - I’m a status level expert at being a shit.  Thank you for never giving up on me.  I’m beyond grateful for your friendship and love. My children couldn't ask for a better Nana! You mean the world to us! 

My dad loved you endlessly - you’ve been a huge blessing to him and the entire Williams family.  I know in my heart and soul that you made Dad a better man. He’s always been perfect in my eyes, but there may have been a tiny bit of room for improvement - - - I’m so happy that my children had the best Grumpy ever.  Thank you for loving him and us so wonderfully.  

It is extremely difficult to speak at the memorial of the man that has served as the narrator of my life. In the hours and days since his death, it feel like I’ve lost my words. I suppose it’s because he was the person that provided me with so many of them. 

Dad, your love, your patience (and sometimes lack thereof), your understanding, your wisdom and your fantastic sense of humor mixed with the ability to say everything without saying anything at all will live on inside us forever.  

You have given us gifts that are more precious than anything in this world.  Goodbye, Dad.  You will always live on in my heart. 






Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Waves on the Eve of My Birthday




I finally understand what people mean by the waves now.  They come up fast and continue to knock me over; sometimes without any warning.  Driving, sitting, doing laundry. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason.  This morning I was productive -I went to have lunch with Nate, ordered some groceries, and went to the bank.  Then this afternoon as I was trying to nap I was so overcome with grief it scared me.  Every inch of my body was hurting, and I could not cry hard enough or scream loud enough.

Later in the day I pulled it together and went and picked up the groceries and it hit me again out of nowhere while I was driving. There is nothing that prepares you for losing a parent. I've found much comfort in words of those that have already walked this path or are currently walking it with me.

If grief is like an ocean, I fear I will never learn to swim.



Tomorrow is my birthday.  The 1st one in my life without my dad.  I think the anticipation of tomorrow may be worse than the actual day.  I am making myself physically sick thinking about it although in reality, how bad can it be really?  It would just be a simple phone call.  Laura Leigh, happy birthday. Love, Your Father.  He used to always send a homemade card, but I hadn't received one of those in a few years. I found a pile of them with some of my pictures -



I get my writing from my mom... I have my baby book, and she wrote down every detail of my 1st year, including the weekend I was born.  I've heard the story a million times from both my mom and my dad.  It varies a bit depending on who is telling the story.

My mom writes on 1/12/73: Laura Leigh was born on the worst day weather-wise that we have seen in 50 years.  It snowed 4" and the streets were quite slick.  Labor pains began at 3:15 AM on January 11, 1973, and I watched her arrive at 6:18 PM.  Daddy was all alone most of the day due to the weather conditions but was all smiles as we came out of the delivery room.  He said "You done good!" and I felt the exact same way!  She is a lovely little girl that looks just like her daddy.

The part that she didn't write and he would often dispute is that it was Super Bowl VII - Miami Dolphins versus the Washington Redskins.  The Dolphins defeated the Redskins by the score of 14–7, and became the first and still the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect undefeated season.  After I was born,
she didn't see him again until Monday, the 15th and that was the 1st time he held me.  Priorities.  He claims he couldn't get back due to the weather.  I've checked that Farmer's Almanac - it was terrible for sure, but I've learned that he was indeed "super-bowling" all weekend! Sounds about right.



The picture above is a photograph from my baby book. I love the way he is looking at me, but mostly I dig that couch! Joking aside, he looked at me that way my entire life.

My mom also wrote a note to me in my baby album that said: "to say he loves you more than anyone would be an understatement."  The way he looked at me, I believe her.

My 45th birthday is going to be a tough one without the man that loved me more than anyone.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Grateful


Journal from Tuesday, January 9, 2018


All I know from my own experience is that the more loss we feel the more grateful we should be for whatever it was we had to lose. It means that we had something worth grieving for. The ones I'm sorry for are the ones that go through life not knowing what grief is.

-Frank O'Connor

Today I am grateful to have had so much worth grieving. 







Just a Mom

I am NOT a doctor, nor do I play one on this blog.

I AM a wife.
I AM the mom of 3 wonderful children.
I AM my son's pancreas.

The information provided on this blog is from our personal experiences with Type 1 diabetes. Because something works for us does not mean it will work for you.

Please consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your health care options.

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