Your First Birthday In Heaven

 

Dear Dad,

August 21st was your first birthday in heaven.  Unlike the other special days that have gone by since you passed, this one hurt like hell. I woke up the morning of your birthday positive my heart was shattered in a million pieces.

This was your first birthday not here, your first birthday in my ENTIRE LIFE I didn’t spend watching you blow out candles. Even when you were at your worst, suffering, unable to eat you ALWAYS blew out your candles and made a wish.  This year there were no candles to blow out.  No clapping after they were blown out.  No searching for the perfect cards and gift.  This year there were only the sounds of my heart breaking into a million pieces.

We used to honor and celebrate you on this day and last week I couldn’t even bring myself to go to the cemetery.  The thought of going to the cemetery on your birthday made me physically ill.   I didn’t want to look at your headstone glistening in the sun.  I didn’t want to talk to the dirt and leave you flowers and balloons.

I searched high and low for the appropriate present for you, now that you are you know, dead.  But I was at a loss.  Lord & Taylor was having a sale on Men’s shirts.  Linens & Things had an extra 20% off for back to school.  Even Macy’s was having a sale.  But nothing for the Dad up in heaven.  I never brought you flowers while you were alive and now here we are seven months later and it’s flowers galore and whatever else I can leave at your grave to not to get destroyed from the elements.

I spent the day mourning your absence, really missing you.  Nothing is the same now that you gone.

I hope that you had an awesome birthday up in heaven.  I hope you were finally able to eat that piece of cake and wash it down with that big cup of coffee.  I hope God had a camera  on your birthday and He took a photo of you so we can see you eating again.  My rational mind knows that you are at peace, but my heart aches that you died unable to eat.

Seven months since you have passed and I miss you more now than the day we lost you.  I find myself looking for your magnetic qualities in people.  I look for your warmth, radiance and compassion.  I search for your sense of humor, and your unbelievable strength of character.  I look for your face in the crowd, I listen for your voice in the middle of the night.  So many things will never be the same.  You were a one of a kind father and you are irreplaceable.

I miss you Dad.

Your absence was magnified on your birthday.  I know you can hear me, and I’m trying my best not to be sad.  But some days are tough. Whenever I ask you for a sign that you are okay you always send me a beautiful white feather. On your birthday you made sure to send me a fluffy white feather. That’s so like you to give me a gift on your special day.

I want to thank you for all you have done and continue to do for me.  You taught me to be strong, to have courage and to have faith.  Dad, you taught me to love with all my heart, no matter what and to always be truthful.  You taught me to be passionate and fearless regardless of what others thought. During one of our last conversations you told me to be kind and trust in the Lord.

Although you are no longer here  in physical form, you live forever in my heart.  You are constantly showing me that love never dies.

On your birthday and each day I honor you.  I honor your faith and strength.  I honor your love and commitment.   Together, with Mom, you both taught me the meaning of true love and what it is to be a parent.  On your birthday I lit a candle and thanked you for always being my hero and showing me what true unconditional love is.

Happy Belated Birthday Daddy!  I love and miss you!

Love You Forever,

Lisa Mia XO

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An Open Letter To The Enablers

The article originally appeared on The Huffington Post Blogbfc0e7a8db3f51c6330113095f03e3e8

Dear Enabler:

You know who you are.  You’re that person who truly believes you are “helping” and leading “Bob” back from the waters in which he is drowning.  You pound your fists on your chest and declare yourself “Bob’s” life preserver, because the rest of us are a bunch of “judgmental robots.”  You feel this great sense of empowerment because “Bob” only confides in you, only allows you to advocate for him.  

You are part of the problem.

I wonder if you are capable of realizing that you are causing great distress to “Bob’s” entire family by knowingly withholding valuable, life saving information.  Let’s be totally honest with ourselves, why would “Bob” choose you as an advocate?  “Bob” comes from a family of individuals who have nothing but pure, unconditional love to offer.  A family who has been down this road before, spent sleepless nights worried and thousands of dollars with one goal…to get “Bob” well.

You are an enabler.  And in my book, you are the worst kind of coward on the planet.  You are a narcissist.  You are obstructive.  You are someone who lies for “Bob” and makes excuses for him.  You are destructive.  You are turning blind eye to life altering behavior which is leading “Bob” down a horrific, deadly road.  

I’m sure you believe that your rescuing comes from the depths of your heart. I have seen it; you love to rescue wounded birds.  Many times I have witnessed you trying to “help” someone.  Your actions are actually keeping the addiction alive, even if you honestly believe you’re doing the opposite.  The people who truly love “Bob” do not share your wish to ignore the gigantic red flags. We realize that we can no longer survive with ostrich syndrome.  You see, true unconditional love is honest, even at times when it is uncomfortable and messy.  True unconditional love addresses the ugly little details that you are pretending do not exist.

I have enough experience to know that behaviors such as constantly lending money, rescuing from the non stop epic dramas, and trash talking the people who love “Bob” is only going to make him fall deeper into a harrowing spiral and fuel his fire of fury.  The immediate family (you are an outsider) made the difficult decision to distance ourselves because we do not want to suffer anymore and we do not want “Bob” to suffer anymore.  See, we love “Bob” so much that we are willing to sacrifice our selfish needs. We are willing to risk having “Bob” get “angry” at us just so he gets the help he so desperately needs.

I feel like a fish swimming upstream frantically trying to save the life of someone whom I love and adore. Someone whom I simply cannot imagine life without.  Someone whom in the natural order of life should never, ever die before my parents or me.  And then along came you, out of no place, making a bad situation worse, choosing to chain smoke cigarettes and drink wine rather than behave like a responsible ADULT and take actions on the numerous red flags that were right in front of your face.

YOU ARE AN ENABLER.

You enable poor behavior in your own family, you enable poor behavior in every single person you have tried to “rescue” through the years only to destroy their lives.  You are now enabling someone of major significance in my life, someone who I love and desperately want healthy again.

Your actions are NOT helping anyone most of all “Bob”!  

What you are incapable of realizing, is that responsibility and accountability are NECESSARY factors for all humans.  When a person doesn’t have to be responsible or accountable to anything other than their addiction and/or mental illness, the issue will perpetually deteriorate.

As long as you continue to enable you are part of the problem, and you are obstructing any resolve at all.

So…why am I writing this letter to you?  What do I want from you, because you truly believe that you are helping, right?

Because it’s imperative you start behaving like a responsible ADULT.  Until now, every single time you meddle and enable your actions have set off a chain of life altering events for “Bob.”  Your constant need to be accepted and your thirst for gossip is obstructing your vision to recognize horrific red flags.  Your enabling is causing more harm than good.  If someone has cancer you take them for appropriate treatments and you communicate with loved ones.  If someone has a heart attack, you call 911 and communicate with loved ones.

So why is this situation any different?

Your actions disappoint me, because, you cannot shout “family first” while turning a blind eye to red flags enabling “Bob’s” deadly behavior.  By now you should have stepped up to the plate, acted like a responsible ADULT and taken the necessary steps to save the life of a person whom I absolutely adore.  And if you are truly unable to realize this dear enabler than you too require medical attention immediately.  So please stop meddling and enabling.  I am fighting to save the life of someone I love, someone I hold near and dear to my heart.  I want nothing in return from “Bob.” I only want “Bob” to live a long, happy, healthy life.

I will continue fight to save his life because I refuse to sit back and let him die.  I would rather have this beautiful person with so much potential in his life angry at me for speaking the truth than turning a blind eye allowing “Bob” to play Russian roulette with his life.   

I will pray for you, I will pray that you are able to understand this letter is not an attack on you, but an attempt to save a young, beautiful life. I will pray that your narcissist enabling ways permit you to truly comprehend that you are causing more harm than good.  I will pray that if you show “Bob” my letter this time, you will have the common decency and class to explain to “Bob” how much his real family loves him and only wants him well.

Signed,

A Desperate Family Member

 

The Grief Thief

IMG_6101This past week has thrown a massive monkey wrench into my grief journey.  I am once again putting cold spoons under my eyes to reduce the swelling and feeling sick to my stomach.  My grief diet hit me full force taking 5 pounds with her.  Unfortunately despite the fact that I’m mourning my Dad, life marches on. And as life marches on we must ride the highs and the lows of life despite how much those lows hurt.

I am beginning to realize that despite all my writing and thinking I’m ok, I’m not. Sure, I’m a grown up.  I have my health, a fabulous career, an amazing significant other and a loving family.   I know I’m blessed, but I really miss my Dad.  It was my Dad I went to for everything.  He was my trusted advisor on life.  And now that my first real life issue has fallen into my lap, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of an abyss, the same abyss I was looking into the night he died.

My father was my hero, my rock, my best friend and life without him is extremely difficult and challenging.  How do you learn how to walk again when the ground beneath you is crumbling? How do you speak when unshed tears claw at your throat?  The seven month anniversary of his death is a few days away and I can still feel my heart shattering into a million pieces.

A few days before my Dad passed we had one of our last heart to heart conversations.  It was at that moment I cried to him asking, “WHO will I go to when life takes a chaotic turn?”  He patted me on the head, smiled and said, “Me.”  I will never forget that response, he was so sure of himself, like he knew something I didn’t.  Despite all his pain and suffering  I saw peace in his eyes.  It was at that moment, I knew my Dad knew something I didn’t, and it was beautiful.  In the middle of muffled sobs I paused, studied his face, and whispered,”Seriously Dad, WHO am I going to go to because I really need you.”  With tears in both of our eyes, my Dad smiled and replied, “I will always be with you, and you will always be my baby. Have faith in God and I promise I will always be with you.”

So here I am, six very long months have passed and I’m fatherless.  I miss him more and more each day.  Life is marching on, and the glue that held our family together is gone.  Many times the waves of grief are so engulfing I have no choice but to ride them.

I’m not sure what it is with death, but people are totally clueless.  People not qualified to offer advice on broiling water are attempting to fill my father’s shoes, giving unsolicitated opinions on private family matters and it’s horrifying.  And while I understand they truly believe their intentions are good, what they are incapable of realizing is that they are outsiders looking in.  I’m certain many of you are reading this thinking, “OMG me too, thank goodness I’m not the only one with crazy relatives!”

So, what’s the solution?  

How do you survive your own grief journey when you’re encountering meddlers with bad intentions who are gossiping during one of the most difficult times of your life? In the movies families rally together, hold hands and sing by the fire.  But this is real life not the movies, so now what?   Unfortunately I don’t have a magic pill, gosh I wish I did.

As I sat on my patio struggling to make the right the decision, the decision my father would have made, I decided to ask for his guidance.  My Dad had a gift with people, he always seemed to know what to do, he had a dymanic larger than life personality.   So, I looked up and said, “Dad, give me the strength to survive this journey.”  

Moments later I found perhaps one of the fluffiest feathers yet, instantly feeling surrounded by love.  I knew then nothing else matters.  The gossip, the meddling it’s truly for the small minded, and isn othing more than a distraction as I grieve.

As you walk your grief journey focus on learning how to live again without your person of monumental significance.  Take some time out.  Grief makes us all do crazy things we may regret.  It is important to cut anyone who is toxic during this time.  People do all sorts of appalling stuff when they grieve, so try to look at these things as poor choices due to a hopeless time in life.  Their heinous choices are a reflection of them, not you. 

Our relationship with loved ones does not end with death.  If you find someone is stealing your grief, its okay to take a break from them and shout, “Don’t steal my grief, thief!”

This article originally appeared on:  The Grief Toolbox