from october to november October 31, 2010

It was the beginning of November two years ago. I was running a lot to keep my mind off the fact that my dad was on the downward slope of his battle with lung cancer. His bad days were outnumbering the good and most were spent on and off at the hospital.  I could only handle being in the hospital on and off, as well. In the months leading up to that weekend, I had gotten in the habit of bringing my running clothes and my I-pod and taking to the streets for a run while my dad sat in the chair for his chemotherapy. It would take hours and hours on end…and many days I felt guilty leaving & going too far away. So those runs, they were what kept me going while my dad did what he needed to do to keep going, too.

The fruits of my autumn labors – besides being in the best shape of my life – was running a half-marathon the day after Halloween. By this time, an afternoon incident of low blood pressure and weakness had landed him in the hospital for several days, which slowly turned into a week. I remember driving from my race that day – that gray, misty Saturday morning – and hanging my finisher’s medal on the dry erase board in his room so he could see it. He was proud of me, as much as he was able to say it…and I was proud of both of us, too. We’d both been down a long path – literally and figuratively – that was a challenge and we were both still around to talk about it.

That next day, in (ironically) the same room in the ICU where my mom lay until she was moved so she could quietly slip away, the doctors and nurses came in just the way they had done two years earlier. There was nothing more they could do and my dad was being taken to an off-site hospice. He was lucid enough that we had to tell him we were moving him somewhere with a nicer view. Where he would be more comfortable. It wasn’t a lie – my dad passed away nine days later in a room that overlooked a courtyard with shadows of changing leaves and sunbeams coming through the window. Dad did just what my mother did – he waited for me to leave before he, too, left. I wasn’t gone 15 minutes – on a quick run to a nearby Target –  before the nurses called asking where I was. He was able to be surrounded by his friends, who came to say goodbye and see him one last time as they wanted to remember him – not suffering. My friends came that night, too…to help me deal with the suffering that was just beginning. They continue to do that everyday when dates and anniversaries like this start to creep up in the silence of quiet days.

There won’t be another post like this on November 9th. I hope to be talking about soup, some special baking I’m doing, or how I just got back from an incredible weekend in Norfolk with my boyfriend and his dear friends. Hopefully, I’ll be on Twitter goofing off with my friends and sharing snapshots from the shoot I’m on that week. As is every year, since the four years my mom passed away, it’s the days leading up that are the hardest. It’s been pivotal to me to be able to grieve here, to hash things out, to come to terms with the notion that living after someone you love dies isn’t something to be guilty about. Leaves turn, seasons change, lives end and begin…and I continue to be so thankful that I have this blog – and you – to lend an ear and chronicle this life that I’m still whole-heartedly living.

Thank you to Hannah from Honey and Jam for letting me use one of her beautiful photos in this post. I think it feels like I do today and I’m happy to be able to share this post – and her gorgeous photography – with you.


Comments

The Teacher Cooks Oct 31, 2010 07:10 pm

Your parents would be proud of you. What beautiful words that brought tears to my eyes.

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Thanks, Wanda. <3

Helene Oct 31, 2010 07:10 pm

I will always remember last year, Asheville, the fireplace and a couple of cocktails and how you shared the memories of your dad with me. I felt priviledged. And honored. Mostly grateful to have you as my friend.
Love you sweetie!

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

I remember that vividly as well….and I’m so happy to have the love and support of a friend like you. Can’t wait to hug your neck. xoxo

Luna Cy Oct 31, 2010 07:10 pm

I rarely comment to beautiful blog posts, but this one was very moving. Thank you.

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for reading this blog.

Corky Oct 31, 2010 08:10 pm

Thank you for your post. Reading this brought back quite a few memories of my dad before he left us and his granddaughter was born. I am so thankful I have been able to see and watch my granddaughter grow. Your post also reminds me every day is very special and I am thankful for so much. Again, thank you.

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Corky – Thank *you* for reading and sharing and relating.

barbara Oct 31, 2010 08:10 pm

Hugs Tami.

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Hugs back to you, Barbara. I hope you’re doing well. <3

Kalyn Oct 31, 2010 09:10 pm

I am always impressed by your strength whenever you talks about the deaths of your parents. Somehow I’m just sure that they know what an amazing woman you have turned out to be, and I’m sure they are very proud.

My mom died in 1998, and somehow the sense of loss did fade eventually, except for those times when it suddenly comes rushing back with a vengeance. I hope your sad times will be far outnumbered by your happy times in the years to come.

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Thank you, Kalyn. The good times and the fond memories already do outweigh the bad times…but as you know…that flood of grief comes over you suddenly and it’s…too much to deal with on your own. Thanks for reading and sharing your own memories.

Jennifer Hill Oct 31, 2010 09:10 pm

I’m sorry to hear of your loss. The anniversaries are the hardest. Just recently, I posted my annual anniversary post of those I love that past away last fall and my father who passed away 8 years ago tomorrow. I pray you may find some hope in the sorrow. http://hilldds.blogspot.com/2010/10/comfort-and-hope.html

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Jennifer – your blog was was very touching. some days aren’t sorrowful – in fact, many are joyous and i look back on my parents who are gone with a smile of remembrance. the anniversaries are, in fact, the hardest…and i see from your post you can sympathize. thank you for stopping by and sharing your own post.

DessertForTwo Oct 31, 2010 11:10 pm

Such a moving post. I’m sorry for you losses. I love the way you say that ‘living after someone you love dies isn’t something to feel guilty about.’

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Thank you for stopping by and reading and sharing. Living to the fullest is the best way to honor someone you’ve lost that loved you – that’s how I look at it these days.

The Broke Socialite Nov 1, 2010 12:11 am

Thank you for sharing. This post is so “you”. xoxo…love you much!

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Thanks, sweetie. xoxo

pointedview Nov 1, 2010 01:11 am

Thank you so much for this post. My mother was diagnosed very unexpectedly with breast cancer this year. She’s now on her sixth chemo, and while her attitude is very good, it is comforting to be reminded that if the worst were to happen, there are ways of transitioning gracefully. Your strength and honesty show in every paragraph.

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

My thoughts are with you and your mom as she goes down that rough road. The positive attitude is essential and I do hope that she beats it quickly. Grace is the word I try to keep in my head constantly when moments like the one that inspired my post arise – traveling down these roads with grace. I’ll be thinking of you and your mom.

Lynn Nov 1, 2010 02:11 am

Tami,
Leaves, seasons memories, change…thanks for sharing. Beautiful, thoughtful words. Very moving. L

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Thank you Lynn and thanks for stopping by and reading.

The Frugal Hostess Nov 1, 2010 03:11 am

I don’t feel like I know you well enough to say much, except that this is some of the best writing you’ve ever done. Really excellent, IMHO.

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Thank you, Susan. That’s a huge compliment. Truly. <3

Monster Librarian Nov 1, 2010 05:11 am

I lost my Dad three years ago this October, so I really appreciated what you wrote.It IS about moving on and living life. :)

tami Nov 2, 2010 12:11 am

Living is the best tribute to the people you love that you lose. Thank you for reading and sharing.

Topiary Lady Nov 1, 2010 03:11 pm

Thank you for sharing your heartache and hope. It is beautiful.

tami Nov 1, 2010 11:11 pm

Thank you for reading and sharing, too, Michelle.

Lynn Nov 1, 2010 06:11 pm

It’s the hardest thing in the world to lose a parent. My dad passed away last December 20 – I am already marking milestones such as emergency room visits with him in November. It’s heartbreaking to think back and how I had so much hope for his recovery. My thoughts are with you.

tami Nov 1, 2010 11:11 pm

I know those milestones very well. They ease up a little in time but they certainly don’t go away. My thoughts are with *you*, as well, Lynn…as you go into a difficult holiday season. *HUGS*

Cookin' Canuck Nov 3, 2010 04:11 am

Tami, I am so sorry for your losses. How brave of you to grieve in such an honest way. I have a feeling your parents would be very, very proud of the woman you are and all you have accomplished.