My husband was out of town for work, leaving me home for a few days with all 3 children. When my dad heard this, he immediately told the kids he’d be coming up for a slumber party. The kids were overjoyed. It’s not often that you get a sleepover on a school night. It was a win-win. It would provide help with the chaos, and the kids would have a blast.
Just as he promised, my dad ventured to Lawrence for the evening. It was a fun-filled night with Papaw: dinner, movies & popcorn, card games, and eventually a bunk-bed sleepover. The next morning, the kids woke up early and Dad was busy downstairs making breakfast. I didn’t think anything special of the morning routine, still half-asleep and trying to remember which forms and papers the kids needed for school.
To my surprise, I came downstairs to some very excited and proud children. They made me breakfast. The menu: cinnamon-sugar toast, courtesy of Papaw. This simple moment brought back memories. It had me more emotional than I probably should have been over breakfast. You see, this was something my mom did. She’d make her famous cinnamon-sugar toast. My sister and I loved it. I can still remember the little bowl of cinnamon and sugar that sat next to the toaster. It was small and simple, nothing fancy, but a tradition.
All of a sudden, cinnamon-sugar toast had me thinking. A simple breakfast had given me an “AHA” moment! As I watched my dad leave, I immediately felt guilt and sadness. I thought about the fact that I’ve been telling him for the past year how much I miss mom. I’ve been telling him how much I need her here and how much I don’t understand why she’s gone. But HELLO! Have I ever stopped to tell him that I’m glad he’s still here? That I’m thankful for all he does for us, all the traditions he keeps going, all the new traditions he’s begun? The truth is, I haven’t, and if I have, probably not as much as I should!
My grief has me telling everyone about my emptiness and forgetting to thank the ones that are still here blessing me with their love, their time, and their support! Is your grief causing you to forget the ones still here? For me, today was a wakeup call. I’m still going to miss my mother more than ever. I’ll probably still talk about it daily, but I’m also going to find the time to tell those still here how much I love and appreciate them. From now on, I will make it a point to tell my family and friends that I see them, I see their support and love, and I appreciate them with all of my heart.
I’m starting today. Dad, this one’s for you!
Thank you for everything you do. I’m sure it’s tough being the one to pick up the pieces after mom passed away. I can’t imagine the weight on your shoulders. I can’t imagine the stress of trying to ease the pain of those around you. I can’t imagine the pressure to try and fill both roles: mother and father. I can’t begin to comprehend the pressure of trying to be both grandma and grandpa. But here’s the truth, you don’t have to be both. Being you is enough. Mom has an unfillable spot, but the spot you fill is equally as important and equally as cherished.
Your strength is admirable. You’re stronger than you probably realize. You stay strong for us, even when I know it’s exhausting. You’re always there, wiping the tears. You’re always there, reminding us of mom’s wishes. I hope you know how much we appreciate this. I hope you know how much we appreciate you and your love.
I’m certain I’ll still cry and tell you how much I wish mom was here. I’m also certain of how grateful I am for your love and support. You are a one-of-a-kind father and grandfather. We love you to the moon and back.
Friends, I’ve learned that grief is debilitating. It has a way of pushing everything else in your life to the side. Today, stop and think. What is your grief taking from you? Are you forgetting the ones near you because you’re deep inside your heartbreak for the one who isn’t here? If so, know you’re not alone. I’ve been there with you. If so, know that now that you recognize this, you’ll be different. If you’re like me, you’ll use this to be more present and more open to those around you. Grief is a roller coaster ride in the fog. It’s unpredictable and it’s never-ending. Your heartbreak will be there tomorrow, but those you love might not be. Be present with those still here, you won’t regret it. xox
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.