Just when you think you have it all figured out. You think you are ready to move forward, you think you have cried all the tears you can cry, you learn, you are wrong. Bam! Yesterday, I got hit like a ton of bricks. Long car rides have a tendency to get my brain thinking. Yesterday was one of those rides. As my small boy was attached contently to his iPad in the backseat. I was left alone with my thoughts.
The last few weeks, I had finally gotten to a place where I could think about my Dad or talk about my Dad and not feel like I was going to break down in a weeping pile of tears. I was able to laugh about funny memories. I was able to smile when I thought of his laugh. I was able to miss him with fondness and not gut wrenching sorrow. I was okay, for a moment.
About an hour into my trip, I was listening to music from my phone on shuffle. I had just passed the sign letting me know I had left Pennsylvania. For some reason, leaving PA, makes me think of my Dad. So, there I was, thinking of the last time I got in my car and said goodbye to him to head back home. I was thinking, I knew in that moment that I may never see him again. It was a hard weekend and he was struggling. I was laughing about that Friday evening sip of Crowne we had sitting on the kitchen floor and how that was the last drink I would ever have with my dad. Wow, it makes me think that those last few years, we had a lot of lasts. We didn’t know it at the time, but now I am running through them in my head. Fortunately, I made it back home just in time to see him again.
I was thinking about how, as bad as it is, every time that I go to a bar and they have Pabst Blue Ribbon in a can, I have to have one. It’s not a good beer. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but it reminds me of my Dad. It takes me right back to those moments when I was a little girl and used to sit on his lap. He used to drink Pabst in a can when I was a kid. He would let me sneak a sip when my mom wasn’t looking and smile and say, “Shhh, don’t tell Mom.” I thought it was so cool and so special. It was our little thing. Wow, I miss our little things…
I was thinking about the long talks on the patio. The advice, the non-judgemental ear, the hint of pride in his smile when I talked about my life. I was thinking about sitting in his backyard watching him throw corn out for the deer. He loved sitting on that peaceful back deck watching the deer. And then, suddenly, tires were squealing, brake lights were glowing and every car on the highway was skidding to a screeching halt. I slam on my breaks and looked ahead in search of a horrible accident and to my surprise, there was no accident at all. There was a family of 9 deer crossing the highway. They were not running, they were leisurely walking as if having a Sunday evening stroll.
I smiled at the thought of how much my Dad would have loved to see them. For a moment, it was as if he was riding shot gun. As quickly as the brake lights started, they were gone and traffic proceeded forward as the deer disappeared out of site. As the last deer finished crossing, my phone shuffled the music to the next random song.
That first note hit me like a ton of bricks. I shuffle the music on my phone constantly. At work, at home, in my car. My Dad died in March and not once has this song shuffled into rotation. I didn’t even know it was downloaded. But here is was, in this moment, as if to say. “Baby, I’m here, I’m always here watching over you.” My phone picked this exact moment in time to play “Jealous of Angels” by Donna Taggart. Or maybe, my Daddy picked it. This song played at my Dad’s funeral. I have not heard it since that day.
In 100’s of hours listening to my downloaded music, it never played until just then. Those bricks came hard and fast and I nearly had to pull my car over because the tear were coming so fast that my eyes were blurry. I think this may have been the exact moment in my life that I finally accepted my Dad is gone. I finally accepted the fact that I wasn’t just a drive away. I was leaving Pennsylvania and I didn’t see him because he was not there to see.
I do know one thing, he may not of been in Pennsylvania for me to see but he was with me in that car yesterday. He made sure I hit the brakes when my mind was wondering. He made sure I saw those deer. He made sure I heard that song. And I am sure, he rode shot gun for quite a while and made sure that the road stayed steady through my tearful blurred vision. He was always there for me and he will always be there. I may not see him but I could sure feel him.
I have so many more things I want to say. So many more things I want to talk to him about. So much has changed in my life in the last 6 months since he passed and boy could I use a hug from him. No matter what was going on, my Dad always made my problems seem so small. And right now, they seem bigger than ever and I could use his quiet encouragement. Well, that ride showed me I have it. (Read more on my Dad here.)
God does not always give us what we want but he always gives us what we need. And yesterday, I needed my Dad and he was right there with me. It is hard to see through the turmoil and find that the light. It is hard to know when things get better but I know they will. It’s hard to remember, but I will remember, that, in the midst of chaos, you must sparkle. I can’t let life dull my shine.
The Manicured Mom