Saturday, January 12, 2013

200th Entry!

This blog entry marks the 200th note published since this site was started in May of 2011.

In that time, there have been over 15,000 visits to the blog, by people from all over the world.  I think it's fascinating to look at blog statistics and to realize the power of the Internet:

It is so heartwarming to see how Dad's story is carrying on and how his life and his perspective continue to impact people, rippling outward to individuals who didn't know him and to many who don't know me, and the support and the comments that I have received as a result of this blog have meant so much to me, more than I can adequately convey.  In the world of grief, one thing that helps to hold us up is camaraderie, and I will always remember that which has been bestowed onto me and my family.

I've learned a lot from the emotions and the thought processes that go into writing for this blog and from the comments that have come from others who seem to somehow "get it."  Because of the blog, I've gotten feedback from several people whom I knew only casually or whom I knew in a completely different context over the past couple of years, and I've gotten to know several people in a different way than I did before.  

Through this process, I've also realized the value of words.  Words are important, and they can be healing or hurtful, depending on how they are put together and on how they are spoken and how they are heard.  Since my dad's death, I have grown to detest some commonly used wording and to prefer some wording over others for certain things.  As I've mentioned, I hate the term "new normal;" it seems better to me to say "new routine" or "moving forward" instead because I don't think I'll ever see not having my dad here with me as "normal."  As is evident in the majority of the 199 other blog entries, I prefer the term "going on ahead" to "died" or "passed away;" the former just sounds so harsh and so final to me, and the latter sounds so passive, as if he didn't try with all his might to stay here in this world with us for as long as he possibly could.  I don't like to think about dying as a person's losing a battle; I think it's better to say he ended his battle instead of saying he lost his battle with cancer.  The latest perspective in wording that has come to my attention is a question that is often asked of people who are coping with serious illness or those who are grieving: "How are you?"  What I have come to see as more fitting phrasing is "How are you today?" That seems to open the door for a more honest conversation instead of just having the response be "I'm fine" when so often that just isn't true.  It's semantics, I know, but somehow it's become one of the things that I pay much more attention to these days, as part of my current perspective.

One thing that I used to say as a child that I wanted to "be" when I grew up is a writer; as a teenager, I told that to my dad a few times, and each time he said he didn't think it was likely that I would "make a good living" that way.  (It was very important to him that my sisters and I each found a career that would give us job stability and that would allow us to support ourselves.)  I guess it's kind of ironic then that through his illness and through the grief that followed after he went on ahead I have somehow found my way back to writing, and, if he were here today, I would tell him that I am using writing as a way to make a good living, maybe not for profit but for perspective and for therapeutic purposes.

In closing, I'd like to share a quote about grief that I came across in Dean Koontz's book Odd Hours:

Grief can destroy you -- or focus you.  You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone.  Or you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it.  But when it's over and you're alone, you begin to see it wasn't just a movie and dinner together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill.  It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it.  The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time; you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by the gratitude for what preceeded the loss.  And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.

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