Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering and Letting Go

Somehow picnics and BBQs didn't feel right for me today. 
My dad is, was, (still not use to past tense) retired US Army, a veteran of both the Vietnam and first Persian Gulf wars. He is buried in a National Cemetery, on a hill, where all the white headstones are lined up in neat little rows, always in formation for their country.

So I didn't go to any parties or parades today, but don't think I am going to get all pious. I didn't do anything. Not one productive thing.  I spent most of the day as a crumpled mass of bones and limbs on my bed. At 8:15 pm, I decided that I was hungry, and remembered that I was out of milk and I had some bills I had get ready to post tomorrow. So I got up and dressed. My hunger has been met, my fridge full of dairy products, and here I am. Again on my bed, but this time in an upright position.

Yesterday, my sister and I were talking about different things that we could do to honor our dad's life and memory. We discussed big things like finishing the book that the was writing. But as I was driving to  the store tonight, something even more important came to mind. 

Let the bitterness go.

My dad's passing has created and fueled some intense emotions in me, both positive, and well, let's say, not so positive. 

I'm bitter and hurt that some of dad's siblings didn't reach out to us.
I'm bitter and hurt that some people that I thought I was close to, still haven't acknowledge my dad's passing. *
I'm bitter and hurt that I feel that I have to stay here, when I would rather be closer to family. 
I'm bitter and hurt that they are horrible, mean, bad people living and breathing and doing horrible, mean and bad things in the world, when my dad, who did nothing but help everyone around him, was taken.

Let the bitterness go.

This is exactly what my dad would want. His own family was torn from bitterness and hurt feelings, and misunderstandings and grudges.  He grew up living the consequences of all these terrible words and actions. He wouldn't want to me live with them now. He, along with my mom, taught us to be strong and independent, but also smart, and kind to others, to ourselves. If I am honest in my desire to honor my dad's life, then I must live the things that he taught me. 

Bitterness, in a perverse way, is easy to living with. It gives you a high and mighty feeling of "I am right and they are wrong." But in reality, all these ugly feelings are parasites eating away at your high and mighty soul. And while bitterness and hurt can be at times comfortable, they are hardly that to get rid of. I wish that I could be one of those people that all of a sudden has an awakening and turns their lives around in the snap of their fingers. I wish I could change that quick. But after all these years, I know myself a little better. I know that small steps are lasting steps. I know that I need time. I know that I need to be patient and honest with myself. I know that I will have bad days and fall, and lash out. But I also know that tomorrow will always come, and I can try again. And again. 

So, maybe, now that it is almost over, this Memorial Day wasn't that horrible, terrible (it was still hard).  I learned that it can be much more than a day all about dying and funerals. It can be about remembering those that we loved and lost, and what they taught us, and how they touched our lives, and maybe just as important, what we are doing with all that now. 

All this sounds nice and lovely, but living it, well, that's going to be the hard part. But most meaningful things in life are.


*I know that this may come off as a tad passive aggressive, but I really don't even know if any of these people read my blog, so it isn't meant to be, or maybe it is, bitterness can do that. But if  you ever know someone that is going through difficult times, whether it is the death of loved one, or another hard thing, I implore you to say something, write a note, send a text or Facebook message. Even if it is terribly awkward and you don't know what to say. I testify that even the simplest kind word, even "I care that you are hurting and I care that you get through this," can make all the difference. I haven't always been the best with compassionate words in the past, but I'm trying to be better about that, since I now know of the comfort that they can be. Tragedy and trials often bring this overwhelming sense of loneliness, and well meaning words can help chip away at that weight. 


  1. I think the more pain I go through, the more I understand that we need to reach out to others, even if we don't understand their pain exactly and even if we don't know what to say. You've got it exactly. Plus, I totally understand that bitterness thing when people don't acknowledge that something big and terrible just happened to you.

  2. Wise words. Hard to live by but still very true. One of the greatest gifts is knowing what to say and when, but as you said, it's better to say something even if it's not exactly right. It really is the thought that counts.