My dad, Jim (James Colin Heaney) passed away suddenly on Feb. 23, 2007. It is now Nov. of 2008 and I am just now writing on my blog. I’ve done alot of writing, by hand, in my journals. One journal I began immediately after his death, and it contains stuff, memories, emotions, thoughts, questions, loss and tears, all written by hand. In various other journals I’ve written about my wonderings, questions, and loss, along the way. For whatever reason, I’ve decided today to type it in my blog. Maybe this seems more concrete, more out there, more integrating my loss and grief. I read an excellent book called “Fatherless Daughters” by Clea Simon that has helped companion me in my grief journey recently. I will always be my father’s daughter, but somehow I am journeying into a new time of the woman I am becoming. I am aware that this all coincides with mid – life. I’m trying to willingly embrace it as the middle years of opportunity.
My dad died suddenly of a heart attack at a party at the Yacht Club the evening of Feb. 23. I was out with Dave. We had just seen the movie “Amazing Grace” and commented on how we both thought my dad would enjoy the movie. I had silenced my phone and headed off to dinner so didn’t even notice all of the messages until we were leaving the restaurant. That was awful. Later I felt badly about not having heard the messages earlier, all kinds of things. I still don’t like going much to restaurant Zoe – the food is incredible, but the memory there is hard. Telling my kids about my dad’s death (affectionately known to them as Shenner)was incredibly difficult. Oh how we all sobbed that next morning in our bed. Journeying with my mom through the past year and a half has been difficult. It is hard for me to see her so sad, and I love her dearly but get even more frustrated with her anxiety levels, which seems exasperated/exaggerated since my dads death. Picking my dads ashes up in the box at the funeral home, sucked. Nothing in life had prepared me for that, nor for the scattering of his ashes out in English Bay. I regret that I didn’t go see him laid out in the funeral home before he was cremated. I had never thought of it, and my mom immediately said ‘no’ when we were asked at the funeral home about that. That was also a completely surreal time. I’d never sat in a funeral home and had to go through the kind of arrangements you do when someone has died. It was the first time I ever wrote an obituary, planned a memorial, gathered photos for a DVD memory presentation, gathered music, fielded phone calls, picked out the clothes and shoes for my dad to be cremated in. Surreal, bizarre, alien……….those words probably best describe how I felt. I actually am not sure now how much I felt, so much as acted and followed through on just out of need. Shock – that’s what that was. The months after my dads death were very hard. I have never felt so exhausted, lonely, lost, questioning, wondering and empty. I know now that I was experiencing grief, and mourning, and at the same time grieving other losses and goodbyes in my life that I just hadn’t had connect with my head and heart. Going to grief counseling was a really helpful piece for me. Watching, and rewatching the DVD of my dad was healing, tearful, and painful. Choosing to invite friends over to ‘commemorate’ the first anniversary of his death was a powerful event for me. Writing about, looking at pictures, telling stories and remembering the impact that my dad’s life has had on me have all been helpful. There is more to write, but this is enough for today.