Saturday, June 2, 2012
I have been considering taking up boxing. Not really for the exercise but so that I can get a big punching bag and write things like New Normal on it and then beat the shit out of it.
When my dad was first diagnosed with the brain cancer that took his life only ten weeks later, lots of people kept telling my family that we needed to find a “new normal.” God how we detested that term then, and how we hate it now. There is NOTHING normal about what we went through or living the life we have been left to live without my dad. It’s more of a slanted or tainted or stained continuation, one with beauty and good and excitement and happiness in it to be sure but one that we know is not as good as it should have been.
My parents had planned to go on an Alaskan cruise for years before my dad got sick; taking that trip together was a Bucket List item for both of them that did not come to fruition.
This week, my daughter, who just graduated from high school and who had a trip like that on her own young Bucket List, is taking that trip with my mom, a divergence with necessary perspective, the perspective and the tenacity to move forward that we learned over the course of our lives from Dad.
In my family, we have always known we needed to count our blessings, to relish the quality moments and even more importantly, to consider the times when we were simply together as a family to be of the highest quality. Our standard family motto when we are planning a vacation together is “The details don’t matter that much – we can have fun together in a closet or a box!”
Dad’s illness brought that sentiment even more into focus. It emphasized to me the need to consciously hoard those memories, just in case. Back then, I didn’t really believe a “just in case” would ever happen, but now I know it can and at some point it will.
That is how we are having to adjust. Life goes on; it really does. And still, considering the world without him in it stretches my mind further than is comfortable for me. It’s like trying to grasp the scope of the solar system or shrink myself to a set of random carbon blocks. I still do not fully believe he is gone.
Like a monk-in-training, though, I am trying to appreciate the little things as well as the big things, the quiet and the noise, the minutes, the hours, the days. To pause and count my blessings, to stop and smell the roses, both literally and figuratively. I am trying to go on and have peace and to be happy even though Dad isn’t here.