Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hope you had as much fun as we did!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life

As much as I feel time should have stopped on September 28th, life and time does move on. I think it is doubly hard for me because for seven weeks after my Dad's surgery, life was on a crazy, hectic pace. I would go to work during the day, come home and rush dinner and homework, sneak in some family time with the kids, and then I would go to the hospital or to my parent's house to help care for my Dad. I didn't have much time to think, I only had time to do. To care for others.

After Dad died, not only was he gone, but the hectic pace came to an abrupt halt, and I was left with too much time to think. All of the emotion from Dad's passing, doubled with the emotional stress of the previous 7 weeks hit me like a freight train. I think this is why for a few weeks I would find myself doing an everyday mundane task and think to myself, "Why in the world do I have to do this? Why is this important?"

I am beginning to take joy in the everyday again. Mostly because I know how extremely irritated Daddy would be if we didn't enjoy our time here on Earth. I have enjoyed watching Charlie end his second soccer season with a trophy he is so proud of that he sleeps with it, seeing Sammy and Charlie dressed in Halloween costumes, and hearing Evan prepare for his Christmas concert where he will be singing in a trio. I am enjoying my classroom and my students, and the feeling it gives me of following a vocation from God. I feel purpose in being a wife, a mother, and a teacher. My role as a daughter is more important to me than ever. I want to be there for my Mom as much as possible as she journeys through this new stage in her life.

We are all learning to cope and to continue. We will always miss Dad, love Dad, and wish he was still here with us. But we will also still enjoy, love, and embrace the life we still have to lead.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photographs

It was not the first time I had tried to wish and pray myself into a picture.

When I was 12, Nickelodeon started playing reruns of the Monkees TV show. I fell head first into my first celebrity crush...Micky Dolenz, the handsome and curly haired drummer of the 1960s band was the first guy to make my heart pound. Never mind that he was in his 40s by the time I was introduced to him. My Mom helped to feed my obsession when she dug through her old record collection, and found me an original Monkees album, which I then listened to ad nauseum on my record player.

Not long afterwards, I read a book in which the main character stared so hard at a picture she found herself tumbling into it, and she had a whole new life inside the photograph. My 12 year old self thought about how awesome this would be, and I am embarrassed to admit, tried mightily to wish myself into a picture of Micky Dolenz on the beach. I found the picture on the back of the album cover, and boy oh boy, did I want to join his 20 year old handsome self next to the sand and the surf.

A couple of days ago, I was looking through pictures of our trip to the lake last summer. I was missing my dad terribly, and I needed to see his face. I came across a picture of my Dad and I playing shuffleboard on the court behind our cabins. We had the best time together. He beat the pants off me the first three games we played. The next night though, I started to get the hang of it. He was proud of me for giving him a challenge, but I never did beat him. When I looked into the picture, I saw him as he was just three short months ago. So strong. So healthy. I was overwhelmed with a sense of disbelief. How can it be that he isn't here anymore? How can it be possible that I can't call him on the phone and remind what a great time we had playing shuffle board? He was so healthy. And so vibrant. Neither of the people in the picture had any clue our time left together was so short, and we wouldn't have believed it if you had told us.

And then I stared and stared at my Dad. And I wanted so badly to go inside that photograph and be able to have that one night with him again. To give him a hug and tell him I love him one more time. Or to be able to warn him of the future, and beg him not to get that stupid surgery. I know it doesn't do any good to keep thinking it, or saying it, but ohmygosh....I want my Daddy back.

And then I remembered being 12 and doing the same thing, and I had to giggle a little. It also made me remember that my Dad took me to a Monkees concert the year I was 12, at Rosenblatt stadium. It was my first and only concert I have ever been to, and I loved it. He even brought me a Monkees souvenir book and I still have it. I am sure Dad was miserable, but I am so thankful that he was the kind of Dad who was willing to be miserable just to make his daughter happy.

They aren't enough to make up for him being gone, or to fill the empty void, but I am so glad that I have so many wonderful memories of my Dad. I am so glad that I told him I loved him so many times after his surgery. I would welcome the chance to tell him a thousand more times, but I know that he knows.

The one thing I am sure of, and the one thing that does make me feel better, is that I still feel his love for me. All the way from heaven.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Loops

My brain is thinking in loops lately. I find myself having the same thoughts over and over again through the day. What is amazing, is that I can have these thoughts at the same time I am teaching, doing the laundry, or getting the kids in the tub. I can't seem to be fully present in the moment.

My main train of thought is "How can this be?" "How can it be possible my Dad won't come over for dinner ever again? How can it be that someone so healthy isn't with us anymore? How can it be that we just had a funeral for my Dad?" Maybe in thinking this over and over again I am subconsciously trying to accept a reality that just doesn't make any sense at all.

I have also discovered that grief is exhausting. I have never felt so deep down, bone tired before this.

I am just trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And the thing that helps me to do that is that I know my Dad is saying prayers for me to have strength to get through the day. I know he is still taking care of me, just in a different way than he did here on Earth.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I Can See the Thestrals

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may remember the thestrals which pull the carriages full of students from the Hogwarts express to the school. Most of the students think the carriages are magic, and move on their own, but students who have seen death can see the invisible thestral creatures pulling the carriages.

That's how I have been feeling this week, as I have had to return to work. Everyone has been so friendly and helpful, but it seems that people are divided into two groups. The first is made up of people who care about you, but have never been through the death of someone very close to them. They don't know what to say or what to do, so they don't look at you. They don't mean to, but they make you feel like you may have the plague. They don't want your fate to be theirs, and they don't want to see your pain.

The second group is made up of people who know just exactly how wretched it is. They have been through it themselves and know that you are feeling like you have a black hole in your chest instead of a heart. They reach out with hugs, and words, and love, and action. They look you in the eyes when they say, "It absolutely sucks, doesn't it?" And when you look back, you see your own pain mirrored in their eyes. And you know they can see the thestrals too.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I Love You Daddy

On Tuesday September 28, at 10:45 in the morning, my Daddy went to be with Jesus in heaven. His heart, so tired after all of it's struggles after his surgery, simply wore out and stopped beating. Maybe someday, I will be able to write about that day here. For now, it is too raw, too personal, and too agonizing. When I try to sleep, my brain replays the 8 hours of terror from the time my Mom called me at 2:15 in the morning to tell me his Life Vest had alarmed and the paramedics were at their house, to the time my Mom and my siblings and I stood around his hospital bed, holding on to him and saying good bye.

My Daddy was so much more than just a Dad to me. He was also my hero, my friend, and my protector. He was my mentor and model. Most everything I have done in my life has been with the intent to make my Dad proud of me. At his wake service last Thursday, I knew I had to write and read a eulogy to him. I wanted him to be proud of me again, and I wanted the world to know what an amazing man he was. Is. I know that just because he is in heaven, he hasn't stopped being amazing. I know that he is continuing to love and care for me, and always will.

I am so proud, and so thankful, that I was able to read the following words that night clearly, and without faltering. It was my gift to my Dad. It was my way to send my love to him. Here is what I read:

Creighton John Micek Jr. Also known as John, CJ, Creighton, and Poppo. But to me, he is Daddy. All of you know him from different places. To some of you he is brother, friend, coworker, bike riding buddy, or fellow member of the Buttheads. All of us here though can say that regardless of where we knew him from, he was one of the best men we’ve ever known. Tonight I would like to share with you some stories about my Dad that exemplify the qualities that made him so special to so many.

Dad grew up in a family of 10 children. He was closest in age to his sister Linda. He spoke of riding bikes with her to the library, and then taking their books into the cool of the basement to read away an afternoon together. Linda also often talks fondly of walking home from school for lunch together, hand in hand. The two of them developed a lifelong love of books, but it was Dad who continued with bike riding into adulthood. He rode in countless years of Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska events, and organized many weekend riding excursions with friends. This was how his group of friends, the Buttheads, got their start. Dad firmly believed that everyone should enjoy riding a bike, and when he made a new friend, that friend would often quickly find himself gripping handlebars and peddling quickly.

It was also Dad who brought people together. He loved to meet new people and bring them into his circle of friends. For example, the people he loved to play pool with were work friends, brothers, and biking and hiking buddies. Dad had a knack for mixing people of all backgrounds together, and creating a social group that loved to have fun.

In addition to his friends, family was a large part of his heart.

My parents met on March 10, 1972. He remained devoted to my Mom ever after. Through his love for Mom, Dad provided a wonderful example to us of marriage. Though they had their ups and downs like all couples, Dad never wavered in his faithfulness and devotion in their almost 36 years of marriage.

Dad was also the most dedicated of fathers. Here my brothers and sister and I have many stories to share. When it was only Sarah and I, and Mom worked weekends, Dad was in charge. He could only cook one meal, so every Saturday night he made us macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and pork ‘n beans. To make up for the meal, afterwards he would always fix us a Tostinos party pizza and let us stay up and watch Creature Feature while we snuggled on his lap.

When Creighton came along, he was the cutest, chubbiest, but also the most colicky baby any of us had ever laid eyes on. Every night like clockwork, just as Dad was coming home from work, Creighton would start screaming. Dad was the only one who could calm him down by doing what we called his Indian War Dance. He would walk around the house for hours, bouncing Creighton on his hip, and singing an Indian war cry.

Ben’s arrival brought with it a series of health issues that required many procedures done at Medical City Dallas. Dad quickly ran out of vacation time, so every weekend he would drive 13 hours down to Dallas after work on Friday, and have to return on Sunday, just to spend a few hours with Mom and Ben. He always gave exactly what a situation required, without complaint.

Just as this was a great example for us, he taught his children other things by example as well. For 15 years after my Grandpa’s stroke, Dad gave Papa Creighton a weekly shower, did their bills, handled home repair, and Ben even remembers winding their grandfather clock every week before we left. When Dad became sick in August, we all knew just what to do because he had shown us. We had a family meeting and voluntarily took on chores and responsibilities that he could no longer do. Not only did he serve others, but he always did it with a joyful heart. Just by watching how he treated people, we learned honesty, integrity, and loyalty. Even when he was feeling his very worst these last two months, he made sure to call each health care worker by name, and thank them for their care.

He didn’t reserve his kindness just for friends and family, but for everyone that he met. At Mutual, he met a woman named Lou who worked in the coffee shop. He always struck up a conversation, and they quickly became friends. When she heard he was sick, she found my brother Creighton online and told him to tell Dad that his first cup of coffee when he came back would be on her, and he promised to collect.

While Dad was an honorable man, he was certainly not stuffy, and he loved to have fun. He loved to take his grandson Evan camping with the guys. Dad, the frustrated astronomer, loved to shoot off rockets as a kid, so he enjoyed introducing Evan to the joys of rocket building. He also loved to think of activities specific to the interests of each grandchild. Dad played in the black truck with Colin, played air hockey with Charlie and Sammy, and read princess books to Brooke. One of Dad’s favorite pastimes was lounging in the horse tank, and all of us loved to soak in the sun with him and enjoy a beer or a root beer.

Daddy and I were always very close. I knew that I didn’t want to go through childbirth without him there to hold my hand and coach me through. I will always treasure the memory of him being present at the births of all three of my children. I will never forget his excited expression as he welcomed Evan into the world, and introduced himself into Poppo dom. Dad and I always thought exactly alike. We could just look at each other, and know we were having the exact same thought.

He was the BEST dad ever and loved each of his children fiercely. When he discovered that the name Sarah meant little princess, he thought it was perfect, and forever after he referred to her as his little princess. He beamed with pride when Creighton came along, and he could proudly pass on his name and introduce the world to Creighton John Micek III. Benjamin was Joseph’s younger brother in the Bible, and the Bible describes him as much loved. Dad thought this was the perfect name for Ben, as he always was very protective of him.

So tonight, we’ve looked at the qualities that made Dad so special. Each and every person in this room has been blessed for knowing him. He is a gift to us that we will always carry in our hearts, we hope that you will too.

I love you Daddy. I miss you every second of every day. My heart has a big empty hole, right in the middle that won't be fixed until I can see you again.

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