Jeff and I finally decided to tackle cleaning out our bedroom today (Well, it was on my to do list but Jeff started without me and when I realized what he was doing, I pitched in). We are living with my parents and we were living amongst boxes and boxes of stuff (some of it ours, most of it theirs...) and way too much furniture for one small room to handle.
We knew that we needed room for the baby in our space and we knew that the only way to do it was to clean up and out. We had to go through each box, every cabinet- making sure to note what we found that was worth keeping, what to DI or yard sale, and what to throw away.
I swear Jeff must have taken 3 or 4 VERY FULL trash bags to the dumpster today.
There was more than just the physical clean up of our room that happened today...I think some emotional cleaning happened too.
We were in the middle of emptying the giant wooden cabinet that resides in our room (filled with stuff that I'm sure my parents haven't looked at in years) and Jeff pulled out a set of scriptures. I didn't think much of it until I looked down and saw the name that was embossed on them:
Michael Ray Winberg.
I haven't made it any secret that my biological father passed away when I was young. About a week after I turned 12 he was gone and shortly after my mom met Parker and eloped with him..it was a lot of change to deal with in a short time and I will admit that I don't know if I've completely healed.
I looked down at the brown set of scriptures tried to shrug away the lump in the back of my throat. A wave of mixed emotions began to rush over me and I pushed it away and back...pregnancy hormones...gotta love 'em right?
Nothing could have prepared me for what Jeff would pull from the confines of the cabinet next...a large leatherish looking satchel zipped up that said Wood Funeral Home on the front. I knew immediately what it was. I tried to non chalantly tell Jeff that the satchel contained the remnants of my dad's funeral and what was left of any belongings that my mom had decided to store with them. Jeff unzipped the satchel and looked inside. "Yep, you're right." He said noting that there were pictures and what appeared to be sympathy cards inside.
I struggled even more to push the tears back. They sat pooling in my eyes, but I didn't want them to fall. Jeff left the room and curiosity got the best of me. I opened one of the packages of pictures and found what was left of the memories of the 2nd honeymoon my parents had taken to Florida a week before my dad died. I opened another package of pictures and saw a picture of my sister Amber, but upon closer inspection I realized why she didn't look happy...in the background was my dad's open casket. There was his body looking pale and foreign.
I quickly put the pictures back in the sleeve and zipped the satchel back up. I was not prepared to see that picture. I was not emotionally ready...and then the dam burst and the flood of tears started to fall. Jeff came back in the room from moving some boxes out into the hall. I quickly turned away and kept working but it couldn't be helped...Jeff knew I was crying. He asked what was wrong and I finally completely broke down.
With what little strength I could muster I pointed the satchel sitting on our bed and said, "That is all that I have left of him. He's gone and that is all that is left." I became a wet sobbing mess. Jeff whisked me out of the room and took me to the living room to sit on the couch. I sat and cried for what seemed like forever. There were so many emotions I couldn't just pinpoint one...
Years of pent up sadness, frustration, and fear came welling up. My thoughts went to everything that he hasn't been here physically to see and be a part of. I started to wonder if he knew my daughter that is on her way to this earth. I wondered if she loves him as much as I do still. I wondered what he would say and do if he were here.
Jeff snuggled me and wiped my tears. I looked up into his blue eyes and thought about how much dad would have liked him. He is definitely dad's type of guy. Smart, technologically savvy, and funny. I started to wonder what their relationship would be like if he were here in person to walk and talk with Jeff and another flood of tears came out.
Finally, after crying for what felt like forever I finally was able to form a sentence.
"I guess we just try to allow ourselves to forget how much we miss people after they are gone."
I do miss my dad. I miss him every day... but its a thought I push to the back of my head. I know my siblings at one point wondered if I even missed him...I cried very little at his funeral, I think I felt like I had to stay strong, I felt like dad would have wanted someone to be there for everyone else...they even thought that I was somewhat of a traitor for being so welcoming and open to Parker as a father figure when I finally realized he was here to stay. I can honestly say that I will never forget him. I will never stop loving him. I will never stop missing him.
As I sat there crying in my sweet husband's arms, I made another realization. I admitted to Jeff that it frustrates me that when I try to relive a good memory of my dad other people twist it and try to turn him into a bad guy...
My dad was no saint...no one is perfect...but I want to foster good memories, and it hurts that some people choose to deal with their own grief by trying to paint a picture of someone who was mean all the time...someone that I never saw or knew. I know that it makes it easier for them. It helps them to feel okay about moving on with their lives. It helps them to feel justified in their anger about him leaving this life to move on to the next all too soon...but in reality, the man that I remember would have wanted them to move on and move forward. He would have wanted them to be happy, and if it hadn't been his time to leave us, if his mortal testing period wasn't complete, he wouldn't have chosen to go.
Its hard to feel like you have to keep memories all to yourself. Sometimes I feel so alone when it comes to missing him. All I can do is thank my Heavenly Father for such a wonderful husband who lets me babble on when I do have something silly, something sweet, or something crazy to share with him about life with my dad. He was the funniest guy on the planet ( my brother is so much like him.) and he tried to be a true and good friend to all that came in contact with him.
I even find myself crying a little bit as I type this.
Obviously, the hurt and the grief will never go away completely. I've accepted that. I just find myself way more emotional and prone to breaking down over it these days.
In the end, I know how lucky I am to have had such a wonderful, loving biological father and to have such a great and loving step-dad who has come so far and become a new man through the love of my mother, my siblings and me, and God. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband who will be a fantastic father to our daughter when she finally gets here.
I am so lucky to have been made so much stronger. Few people know what it is like to cope with grief on such a level at a young age, but I truly believe that without having experienced the loss of my father I wouldn't be who I am today. Who knows where I would have ended up...but I know my testimony of a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for all of us has been strengthened throughout the years, and that my testimony of the wonderful, glorious powers of the temple has been impacted in a way that few can fully fathom.
Jeff mentioned as I was crying that it was okay, because I would see my dad again someday.
It is so true...because of the wonderful sealing power of the priesthood I am bound to my dad for eternity. I will be able to see him again, and until then, he is always there. He is just a dream and a prayer away.
Hugs and loves darlings!