Sad and Sorry (Literally)

One year ago today, I spoke with my dad on the phone. I remember this distinctly for two reasons:

1. Last year, August 11 was a Sunday; I always call my parents after church on Sundays.

2. August 11 is special day: it’s my anniversary.

This anniversary marks the time I first met my parents. Although I don’t remember this day, it changed my life. Adoptions back then didn’t happen as they do now; my parents did not travel to Korea to meet me and bring me to Kentucky. Rather, I arrived in Chicago from Korea on the lap of a stranger. I have always jokingly referred to myself as a mail-order baby, and in some ways, this is not untrue. And my closest friends and I refer to this anniversary as “Fasian Day,” as it marks the day I became a “fake Asian.”

Aside from my August anniversary, we’re approaching the awful, one-year anniversary of my dad’s untimely death. And it still sucks. Like really, really sucks. Death is awful. Grief is awful. Despite my belief that Jesus has conquered death, hell, and the grave; these things are still not the best.

This past year has been the worst year of my life — not in a “I can’t make it work” or a “I can’t do what I’m supposed to” kind of way, nor in a “I can’t carry on with my life” way; but in a “This particular night/moment suck,” or in a “This doesn’t feel right” kind of way,” or in a “I really hate that my dad is gone” kind of way. And there are still many days when I feel as though I’m watching my life happen in front of me.

I remember talking to my parents on August 11 specifically, but I KNOW I talked to my dad at *some* point between August 11 and August 23 when he died – I just don’t remember the actual date – but I remember because we had this in depth discussion about my mortgage and also about my student loans; he was concerned about my interest rates and I was slightly annoyed that he was asking so many questions.

And now I just find myself sad and sorry. You know, literally sad – sad that I can’t talk to dad anymore (amongst other sadnesses) – and sorry – sorry that I obviously didn’t really appreciate all those conversations with dad, especially on August 11ths of days past. Again, death & grief suck.

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One month

Again, I find that it’s true what “they” always say – in many ways it seems like last night that I was blindly packing for a trip that I knew would likely include a funeral, or like it was yesterday when I last spoke on the phone with my dad; yet it also seems like forever ago that sat in a hospital room with my mom and sister after we’d all been up all night or years since I hugged dad’s neck. In any event, this month has flown by.

I imagine at some point I’ll get back around to posting “normal” things here… like the photos above. I went back to Kentucky for a trip I planned in the summer; and I got to take my nephews to Rupp Arena on a Monday night and see a bunch of really good former UK basketball players. I also resumed the UGA musicology grad student tradition of going to home football games, and saw Georgia beat South Carolina.

Nevertheless, I’m still trying to figure out what “normal” means in all parts of my life. Sometimes this means “the ways things have always been,” because technically, my life in Georgia has not changed. But a lot of the time, “normal” means “regular things plus being sad.” I’ve gotten a lot of “How are you doing?” – not the run-of-the-mill “how are you doing,” but rather a you-just-experienced-the-death-of-a-loved-one “how are you doing” (trust me, you can tell the difference); and my answer to this question has generally been, “I’m doing OK,” spoken truthfully.

But my emotional response to all of this has been… unpredictable. As a generally happy person, the state of being sad (like Sad sad) is a little foreign to me. That is, I’m not quite used to the idea of an extended sadness like this, just like I’m not quite used to the experience of frequently being on the verge of tears in everyday situations, like shopping, looking at facebook, or brushing my teeth. So yeah, I’m OK. We’re OK. We will be OK. But pay no mind if you see me weeping in TJ Maxx while trying on shoes.

Loss

IMG_5746My father passed away suddenly almost two weeks ago. He was 65 and quite healthy; it was very, very unexpected. I have found that clichés and aphorisms have actually been useful and true during this time. It did feel like a (bad) dream; much of the time immediately surrounding his death was surreal; it has been much harder after the funeral; I found myself giggling at an inappropriate time; and really, there are only so many ways one can say, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Now that I’m back in Georgia resuming “normal” life (whatever that is, of course), I’m finding that a lot of things aren’t seeming quite “normal.” For a small example, this blog. It seemed quite silly to try and blog about dad’s death and anything associated with it, but it also seemed a little silly to not say something about it. So here it is. I’m blogging about blogging about it, which seems appropriately strange.

However, I lack the wherewithal to go on and on about dad, or to say something meaningful enough and/or important enough. I thought about talking about how he loved Jesus, how he taught me to love books, how he introduced me to laissez faire economics when I was really young, how I blame him some for my night owl tendencies, or how he really believed that I was smart and could accomplish anything I wanted. Instead, I’ll just say that I miss him, even though I’m grateful for the time I had with him; and through all this, my family has felt quite loved, cared for, and prayed for. So to those who have offered kind words, prayers, messages, phone calls, food, drink, support, flowers, etc., thanks 🙂

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