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Category: Grief

Okay, Then

When my grandmother passed away this past December, we prepared to take the girls to Maryland for her wake and funeral. Saoirse just happened to have a doctor’s appointment around this time, and I asked her pediatrician for advice on explaining what we were about to do. He told me simply, “You don’t have to explain anything to her. If she asks, just tell her that Grandmom went to heaven.” I remember looking at Saoirse, then back at him. But she’s only three, I told him. Isn’t that sort of an abstract idea for a three-year-old? The good doctor shrugged before he replied: “Isn’t it an abstract idea for any of us?”    Flash-forward to today. We were at Arlington National Cemetery paying a visit to the grave of my dear dad (who’s parked right next to the visitor’s center, by the way. Cannot imagine a more appropriate place for my über-friendly father). Saoirse spotted the powerful Air Force Memorial as we moved through the cemetery. “I remember that!,” she exclaimed, eyeing the soaring spires. &#8220…

Three Years

It was three years ago today, around 4:16 in the morning (yes, 4:16 on 4/16. We really should play that number in the lottery) that my father died in an ICU at Hershey Medical Center here in Pennsylvania. I don’t say “passed away” or “passed on,” or some other tidy little term for the ending of his life, because he didn’t just fade away. He died. Pancreatic cancer got its gnarled, evil hooks into him, and even though he fought it–fought it hard, fought it gracefully, fought it with more strength and class than I can wrap my head around yet–the cancer won. I watched my dad die. I wouldn’t recommend it. It was kind of hard. I miss him. Every day, I miss him. My dad and I butted heads a lot (any of my family reading this right now probably just snorted their agreement), but my gosh, I loved him. He was my go-to guy for books, for talking about writing, for cooking. I remember what a hard time he had when I decided to turn vegetarian at the age…

How Pumpkin Pie Makes Me Miss My Dad

Today was the third Thanksgiving we’ve had without my father.  Pancreatic cancer took him from us about two and a half years ago, and even though we’ve celebrated–celebrated?–a significant number of holidays without him now, they each pass the same exact way.  We go through the motions of greeting relatives we haven’t seen in a few months, commenting on how much the kids have grown, trying to grab something to eat while keeping account of one child and feeding another, laughing and drinking and thankful that our daughters have so many cousins who love them.  But the whole time, it feels like I’m choking down a lump in my throat.  Like when I was a kid and about to barf, and I felt like I could keep it down if I just sort of closed my throat.  I ignore the feeling, and it sort of passes, sort of, until I can shove it so far away it’s simply hovering over my shoulder like a ghost.  But inevitably, later that evening, on the ride home in the dark car, or in a silent bedroom as I try…