So, June comes every year. Instead of small remembrances of Dad through out the year, I have a month. (Well, there’s Christmas, but that’s a different story.) I have his birthday. My sister was my father’s thirtieth birthday present and they always celebrated together the day. We always had two cakes. My heart breaks twice on that day: first, because I miss my daddy and second, because I know that my sister feels a grief on that day that I can only imagine. His birthday was always right near father’s day. We celebrate the day for my husband, but in the back of my mind I remember the loss of my father, father-in-law and grandfathers on that day. Then the end of the month is his anniversary of my father’s death. June is like a ratta-tat- tat of a machine gun with all the days of remembrance.
Grief is a sneak thief. It comes up when you are not looking, and if you are not aware of what’s going on, you could lose days wondering why you are feeling the way you are feeling. You might think that someone who is so aware of death and grief could have grief sneak up and not even understand what is going on. You would be wrong. I have lost people and have known grief before. This year, I was feeling a sense of sadness, and was unable to pinpoint it. I felt like I was stuck in molasses and could not work as much as I wanted. What could it be? Then last week, I had a migraine. I don’t get migraines often. Usually I get them when I am feeling a great stress. What stress was I feeling? Two days later, and two days of low light and low sound and I realized that I was grieving, but did not want to acknowledge it. My body was telling me something that I did not want to look at because the loss is so great. Once I acknowledged the grief, I felt better and I was able to move toward remembering Dad on his day.
I knew his date was approaching, when a dear friend of mine asked if we were going to have a memorial at church. I told him that I did not think I had the will to do that. That should have been a big clue to me that I was avoiding something, but no. It took the migraine. Once I realized what was going on, I decided to make the wheat and ask to do a short memorial for Dad. For me, the prayer service allowed me to grieve and acknowledge my father. My sister took a different approach. She and her husband were doing the coffee hour following Sunday liturgy, so they decided to have patriotic cupcakes as a memorial. Her mother-in-law was born in June and the anniversary of her death is in July, so it made sense to have a memorial together. Both Dad and her mother-in-law loved the Fourth of July, so patriotic cupcakes made all the sense in the world. This just shows that in all things my sister and I approach things in the same way, but come up with different expressions. I love having such a creative sister.
Once I was accepting of my grief, wanted to do more than just the church service. I remembered one thing Dad wanted at his funeral, but we were unable to do. He wanted a hymn sing the night before his funeral. Well, maybe if he had written down what hymns, we might have been able to do that. As it was, we were working with one conversation he had with me in passing and another conversation he had with a priest friend of his. Needless to say, we did our best. This year, I asked Mom if she wanted to go to the grave and sing some of Dad’s favourite hymns. We went with wine to anoint the grave and leaves from Dad’s pink tree. It was the best thing and made me wonder if we could arrange for a small hymn sing next year with some of his friends in the area. One hymn we sang I had sung all my life, as it was one of his favourite Christmas hymns, but standing by the grave, and singing the words, I heard them in such a different way; I no longer wondered why Dad loved this hymn.
If we do not acknowledge grief, it can sometimes take time away from living life. I am grateful that I realized what was happening to me, and take steps to fully understand the importance of my feelings. I miss my father everyday. I miss our conversations and how he always found the light side of every moment. I thought that my little remembrances were enough, but my body knew better. With so many anniversaries in such a short amount of time, it sometimes becomes hard to look at grief straight in the face, but having done so I am grateful I have ways to remember my father and grieve his loss.