Wednesday, October 24, 2007


It's been four months since my father died. This has been a horrible couple of weeks. I've been really sad. I've been missing my father terribly. I cry for no reason. A lot. Hard. Sobbing, actually. But then I have to stop it and refocus, because I have gobs of things to do for school, as well as mountains of work sitting on my desk in the office. I want to be able to share the good things happening in my life with my dad and I can't. The emptiness is unbelievable. And if all of this normal grief stuff wasn't bad enough, this week I got pictures of the grave stone via email, which was finally put up earlier this month...and while it gives me closure it still leaves me feeling profoundly sad.

People always tell you that when a loved one passes they don't really leave you, that you can feel them with you. I so badly want this to be the case, but I've just not felt that. I feel totally and completely alone. And I'm far from everything that reminds me of my dad, so other than a few photographs I haven't had anything tangible to remind me of him.

On Sunday I was on the phone with my mom, and I was getting emotional and verbalised this. She's having the opposite problem...she's surrounded by memories all the time, so she can't escape even if she wants to. But she feels his spirit with her. It helps her when she's really low. It comforts her. I didn't have that.

And then Monday night I was sorting through some clothes to get them to the curb for the Salvation Army to take away. I made sure I was going through the pockets to be sure I didn't leave money or ID of any sort in them, since I don't know where they'll end up. And in a pair of black trousers I found this:

This is one of my father's prayer stone. There's a woman that goes to my folk's church who makes them...they're glazed clay and they fit between your thumb and forefinger and you can use them as a little meditative touchstone for prayer, collecting your thoughts, whatever. My father carried one in his pocket from the time he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he'd use it to center himself throughout his many treatments.

About four years ago he had a heart attack and was rushed to Rochester. I drove straight down from MSP to meet him in the emergency room, and when he emptied his pockets before he put the gown on he took that stone out. I gave him a really hard time about carrying the Swedish flag around...I mean, nothing against Swedes and all, but we're Czech and it didn't really make a lot of sense. He laughed. When he'd been picking out a stone before he started radiation, he wanted one with a cross and didn't actually put two and two together until he'd taken it home. So my mom had been ridiculing him for months, but he figured if it was helping him get through radiation he could put up with it.

He needed a quadruple bypass, and so when he went into surgery he asked me to keep it for him, along with his watch and his wedding ring...he thought it would help me not worry so much. I don't think I put the thing down the whole time he was under. I had to give the watch and the ring back but he let me keep this stone, maybe because he knew that I'd continue to worry about him and it could only help.

It's been in my pocket for every major presentation and event I've had until I lost it about six months ago. It's been really bugging me that I couldn't find it. In fact, I really wanted it with me when I flew home knowing I eventually would end up attending his funeral on that trip, but I couldn't find it so I had to fly solo. The stone he got to replace it is buried with his ashes.

Maybe I'm a sap. Maybe I just so badly want to have him here, I am letting myself be fanciful for a moment. But I've chosen to believe he heard me on the phone. And he helped me find it to make me feel better. And in a small way, it has.


lulu said...

I'm sorry you're having such a rough time and are so far from home. I know that I sometimes feel completely cut off from everyone and every thing I love, but I don't have to deal with grief on top of all that.

I never had the opportunity to meet your dad, but from everything I know about you and your family, he was a wonderful man who obviously adored you, and whom you adored.

The fact that you pick up that energy in something he carried with him is not a surprise to me; it makes complete sense.

michaelg said...

I'm so sorry things feel so raw for you right now. Hang in there.
Whether finding the stone was your dad or pure chance, it was perfect and you got exactly what you needed at the just right time. I choose to believe it was George and am glad to hear he's watching out for our Mindy.

Bubs said...

My dad's been gone 10 years. I still have moments when I miss him intently, and wish I could sit and ask his advice. And I'm still finding things that remind me of him. In the weeks/months after he died, finding those reminders could be painful. Now, years later, it's more comforting.

Sorry you're going through a hard time. It does get better.

Marni said...

I'm sorry you are going through such a rough time. I truly believe he put that stone in your path for you to find. It was there when you needed it the most.

Hugs, Min.

Tenacious S said...

Mindy, I'm coming up on the three year anniversary of my mom's death. I wish I could say that the days ahead of you will be easy, but I can tell you they are not. Whoever described grief as a process was right. I let myself cry when I need to. What I can tell you is that the sharpness of the pain and the overwhelming feeling of emptiness fade a bit. I still miss her every single day. There are still several days a week that I wish I could call her or go talk to her. There is a place in my life and my heart that she filled and nothing else will ever replace that. I think the empty spot stays with you forever. What I can say is that over time I am able to think more of the good stuff and less of the sad. You were well loved and that makes the loss more difficult. Love to you, Mindy. I know this is hard.

Mnmom said...

Mindy - it's been 8 years since my parents died. Holy Cow do I know what you're going through. I'm not a religious person, but I DO believe in a spiritual world that we humans don't yet understand. I really believe your Dad put that stone where you would find it - right when you needed it most.
This first year without him will be the hardest. You are doing the right thing by sobbing - it's therapeutic. While you never get "over" it, you do get used to it. My heart is with you.

Beth said...

I have to believe he heard you. Maybe because I still try to believe that my dad's listening to me. It's hard, so very hard, MJ, to accept it. It's been two years since my dad died, and it still doesn't seem real. I look at his photo on my office desk every day, maybe every hour, and silently talk to him — how to solve a problem at work, how my life is today, how much I miss him.

And I still cry. I'll go for a few weeks and not break down — and then a wave of sadness and aloneness carries me away.

But today my uncle e-mailed me that he found my dad's pea coat from his Navy days, and he's bringing it to me next week. It will be too big, but I'll wear it and pretend it's his arms holding me.

You're in my thoughts.

Coaster Punchman said...

That's a very sweet story. Now if you can think of a way to make Jacob stop ringing my doorbell I'll be very happy! Not that I mind his visits but it freaks me out when it's late at night until I realize it's just him.

kirelimel said...

It's not fanciful in the least- it's a testament to the strength of your bond- you can see and enjoy all the little messages he'll give you along the way. I still find many of these from my grandparents- like breadcrumbs left to keep me going.

Dale said...

I'm glad you wrote this, he did hear you.

The Gifted Typist said...

He's still with you. He always will be.