Tomorrow is April.  It's my 30th birthday month.  I'm not overly concerned with thirty years; just another year, really.  I am happy at my job.  I love my family.  I have many wonderful friends.  I love the house I live in.  So much has gone my way in the last year, though as anyone is aware I've had a lot to struggle with as well.  It's occurred to me several times that I won't be getting a certain phone call this year.

Today I woke up to a call from the lawyer.  Evidently a collections agency has been blowing up his office with calls to settle Dad's biggest debt.  I took the reigns and called them to get things taken care of.  The last year of Dad's life was spent living on one of his credit cards, as he didn't have much income coming in.  The lady on the other end of the phone expressed her cardboard condolences and we set to haggling.  I was able to talk her down a quarter of the debt owed and took it.  After all, it was all true debt.  Dad paid for our last meal together on that card.  I gave the lady the appropriate information and washed my hands of it.

My second task today was to head to the IRS office over off of Highway 169 to get the particulars on the taxes Dad owed for 2009.  I'd never been there before, and I was surprised at how high security the office was.  Guard kiosks, metal detectors, the whole nine yards.  The whole process there was much easier than I expected, as I walked out with the information I needed in about twenty minutes.  Once again, a stranger offered their half-hearted condolences as I wrapped up.  They didn't know my father.  The don't know me.  I remember being irked that a coworker of Dad's was so callous when I was returning some of his work supplies, days after his passing.  Now it seems I've turned a corner, and strangers offering condolences just make me sigh.

Every day brings the final date of closure a bit closer.  I have held onto the administration duties as a duty to my father's memory and have carried out what needs to be done with respect and patience.  Once it's over, I don't know what's going to happen.  Maybe I'll be just fine.  Maybe I'll try to find something to fill that void of responsibility.  I'll be relieved that it's over.  I'll also wish I had something else I could do for Dad.

When my brother and I get together, he's all we talk about.  The good memories, the stories we've heard a hundred times.  There is plenty of laughter.  I still have other people that ask how I'm doing once in awhile.  I'm doing well most of the time, and certainly I'm doing well at work.  It's not the place for such things.  It's still in the emptiness of home when I am abducted by sorrow.  I miss him so much.  And it sucks that new people in my life will never get a chance to meet him.  


Baby Steps

I've gone to two grief counselor sessions and I think I'm done.

I got out of them what I wanted.  I talked about Dad, I talked about my marriage, and was told I'm healing, moving along at a good pace and that I'm reacting normally.  I'll have good days and bad days, but otherwise I check out okay.  Good.

Thursday my brother and I drove up to Pawhuska to try and get the rest of Dad's stuff stored at my uncle's place.  We sorted through a wall of boxes and retrieved a few errant pieces of furniture and was able to get out of there lacking maybe half a truck full of misc items.  It was a beautiful day and we worked well together.  When we got home, Mom came over and we had one more unpacking/sorting/nostalgia fest before they went home and I went out for St. Patrick's Day.  It was good times with good friends; that kind of environment energizes me and brings me joy, but like anything else the quiet times afterward seem a little more quiet.

Saturday is the start of my work week, having Thurs/Fri off.  Since I don't go in 'til 2, it gives me plenty of time to get up and around, perhaps get a few things done before going into the office.  This morning has seen me spend my time in front of the computer, catching up on the news of my friends, checking weather, and my usual list of websites.  I've had wells of tears in my eyes for no discernible reason.  I occasionally sigh heavily and my lip turns downward, so I grab my cup of coffee and drown whatever unfocused sorrow seems to be weighing on me today.

That's probably the most frustrating thing about grief.  For me, it's rarely, "Oh, Dad gave me this knife when I graduated high school..." and a breakdown occurs.  It's a cloak of sadness and loss that has no specific.  I can't, say, put the knife away and make sure I don't see it all the time.  Most of the time it's nothing in particular, and I have no way of avoiding the mental ghost of my father.  Again, my counselor said that was normal...so that's a good thing I suppose.

After all, yesterday marked two months since I received the phone call.  Two months.  Hard to believe it's only been two months.  I know I'm too hard on myself, but I'm used to being the Strong One.  I don't know what to do on the days I don't even want to try to hide it.



"Nice car!"

I have lost count of the amount of times someone on the street has looked at Dad's Mustang and make some kind of positive remark about it.  It's six years old but it still turns heads.  I always respond with a thank you and often tag a, "It was my father's" which gets no response.  That's fine.  I don't know why I do it.  It's not like I want strangers to pry into my personal life.  It's not any of their business.  But I thought to myself, what would I say if someone actually asked?

When I looked at the house I live in, the guy showing it to me asked about my moving situation.  I told him that, among other hassles at my old apartment, I needed more space due to some items I'm inheriting from my late father.  He said he was sorry to hear that.  Really, was it necessary for me to mention that my father had just passed away?

There is a trend here.

I have a typed list of people.  Friends, acquaintances, family.  All people that have stepped outside the normal "So sorry to hear about your Dad" and offered their ear or stepped out in some other way to show their support.  I have ways to contact all of them.  But I don't.  Part of me feels like I should be able to maintain now, and not be the hum drum guy.  Part of me also says, "Hey, chump, it hasn't even been two months yet."  It's that battle that grapples with me most of the time.

I was driving home tonight, mostly on autopilot.  The speedometer has some issues, and I made a mental note to get Dad's instrument cluster repaired.  I just had a moment, like a cast had cracked and fallen off of a limb. I realized this isn't Dad's car anymore.  It's my car.  Dad's not going to call and say, "Alright, I need it back now."  Of course I know that.  But part of me doesn't buy it, still.  I don't cry as much as I used to; it's replaced with a feeling like the light bulb burned out suddenly and I can't see to replace it...I just gotta wait for the sunrise.

I have identified this aching need to tell people about my father, and how I'm feeling, and just an overall desire to reach out to people...but I feel paralyzed.  I feel like SUCH a burden and I don't know why.  I have another appointment with my grief counselor next week and I can address that.

Until then, though, I can roll the windows down, blast Deep Purple and Steppenwolf, and remember the face of my father.



Time is funny.

As I've mentioned before, there are moments when it feels like Dad's been gone a really long time and there are moments where I feel like I just got the phone call.  It's changed a bit.  Instead of fluctuating to where I feel like I just got the news, it's more of a feeling of deep realization that, yeah, he's gone.  I am still working through the legal stuff and that is slowly turning into frustration.  It's not that I don't want to get things accomplished...it's just that I feel like my world stops entirely when I'm dealing with a piece of it.  I still need to get up to Pawhuska and start bringing the rest of his things to Tulsa, too.

Indi and I have settled into a friendship.  It's not weird, though occasionally my heart sighs with what-could-have-beens.  We had such adventures together and that, too, is hard to really digest that it's over.  I've put a lot of thought, consideration, and a bit of action behind entering the dating scene, but it's been difficult.  I am acutely aware that I am still broken and amidst multiple grievings.  The last thing I want is to place someone in the middle of all this, or worse...use them as a crutch or stepping stone.  I wish I could just move on already.  Yeah, I know, it's only been a few months.  Still.  My grief counselor said I was lonely.  Glad that session was free.

I am greatly looking forward to my birthday party next month.  I've been fortunate to have plans on my last few days off, but for some reason it still feels like I don't get out and do anything.  Not sure why that is.  Maybe it's like I wrote earlier, where I'm looking to these friends and events to fill this emptiness, when the only thing that'll fill it is time.



I had a conversation today about returning to the dating scene.  I've been on the fence about the subject.  On one hand, Indi and I have been separated since early November.  That's four months.  It feels like mourning a relationship that I had for seven years should work differently.  I remind myself that, in my heart, things hadn't been in a good place for six months prior to that, and from that perspective that's almost a year.  Still.  It's a hard decision to come to.

I have always been a 'Plan' guy.  I never dated anyone I couldn't see myself marrying someday.  I figured, why bother.  Waste of time and energy.  I've changed a lot since then.  I've learned not to live so rigidly and be more spontaneous.  Once things were truly over in my marriage, though, I now recognize that my mind has been wandering back into that old rut.  I have such a mix of emotions from my failed marriage and my father's death that I don't know much for sure these days.  This includes the condition of my heart.  But after thinking, I realized that this is exactly where I need to be.  My current emotional turmoil has me to where I CANNOT return to my old rut, or else I face a very sad and lonely life.

I realized I can date like other people date.  Without preconception.  Without some grand plan.  Just dating.  If it blossoms further, great.  If not, hey, whatever.  I learn about myself, and others, and begin to rebuild.

It's like I've been sitting on the title screen for a long while and someone finally pressed start.