Blue Christmas…One Year in Virginia.

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Christmas 2013

 

 I see an empty place at this table. I see a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved.

That empty recliner.

It hurts my heart.

On the night of December 19th, 2012…we arrived back home in Virginia. On the 25th of December 2012, my Daddy had sat in that chair, ready for Christmas. Now, here we are one year later. And that chair is empty. I suffered three losses this year. All of them major. Two are private and I will only share them with family at this point. But one…one I will share with you all.

This year was a year of many things, all jam packed into one fast paced year.

I took him for his first hair cut in months, that’s his (our) Redskins jacket hanging on the coat rack by the door.

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He taught Bear how to use the Snow Blower…from the comfort of his recliner inside the house. Bear would have to run inside to asks questions.

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Dad would say “You’re doing a great job, buddy!!” and mean it.

We took my Dad to see the Nationals, the Baseball Team for Washington DC and the surrounding areas.

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President Washington wins the base race!

He would spend a couple times a week at my house, enjoying the scenery and being waited on hand and foot. 😉

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We would go for drives, his favorite thing in the whole wide world to do.

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We would go grocery shopping together, and take a moment to stop and enjoy a particularly gorgeous VA sunset.

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He would laugh at me when I asked for change to ride the horsey outside the Grocery Store.

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Sometimes, he would be too weak to go inside the store. So I would leave him in the car with the windows down and tell him “Now, be a good boy! Don’t bark at people!” and he would make mad barking noises as I walked away.

And then…it all stopped.

My Father, the greatest man I have ever had the privileged of knowing (outside of my loving husband), passed away on September 5th, 2013. The family was by his side as he passed. My Step-Mom held his right hand and I held his left. My husband by my side. My little brother and his wife sitting next to me, my Step-Sister-In-Law by my Step-Mom and my Aunt at the foot of my Daddy’s bed. My Brother-In-Law was five minutes late and to this day…his heart breaks with the loss of not being there to say goodbye.

My Daddy was put in the hospital at the end of June. Eight weeks later, he was finally well enough to be transferred to a rehabilitative therapy center. He was on dialysis. He had lost too much weight. He still had moments of delusions and hallucinations. The chances of him making a full recovery were slim, the chances of him going home ever again were even less.

My Daddy put up a huge fight. He stayed as long as he could. In a moment of clarity, he even declared that he needed more time.

But he had been sick and in pain a long time. It was time for him to rest.

I spoke at his funeral. As did my little brother and my Step-Brother. I’m going to share what I spoke with you all, I’m removing his name and replacing it with ‘Daddy’.

Once Upon a Time…

That’s how most of my Daddy’s stories began. From as far back as I can remember, to as recent as a month before he died.

I could stand here and tell you a great many things about the man who was my Father. Many of them you would know, some you may not. But to me, the most important thing about him was his heart. I feel it was most easily seen by the stories he would tell. Sometimes they were for fun, maybe they were to make a point, and other times they were to teach. But every single time, they showed his depth of his character and his great gift of love.

The one he told me the most often was one about me. I used to think it was just an amusing story. A remembrance. Now, looking back on his life and how many people he meant something to, I realize it was much more than that.

Here is that story…
Once Upon a Time there was a NOISE.
When “Gori Rajkumari” was just a little girl, with hair longer than her dress, she decided that she was mad enough at us to run away.
So she packed her little suitcase with her favorite pajamas and stuffed animal and walked out the front door.
But I ran out the back door, to some trees between our house and the neighbor’s house.
When “Gori Rajkumari” arrived, I said quite loudly “OOOOOOooooo”…and she slowed down.
Again, I said “OoooooOOooOO” and she stopped.
Once more, I said “OOOOoooOOOOO!” and she ran for home.
I beat her there and was waiting at the door when she said “I’ve decided to give you another chance.”
And I replied “That’s probably a good decision.”

You see, my father was wise enough to know that he couldn’t force people to change their minds but he might be able to influence them in different ways. No matter what, he was always proud that you had come to the decision on your own, by your own volition. I could have kept walking, straight to our neighbor’s house…and I believe he would have been just as proud of me for that as he was for me coming home.

His life. His purpose. His morals. They all touched so many of us, in our own unique ways.

No single story belongs to just one of us. We all have an “Daddy” Story to tell. But as much as we have an “Daddy” story, I know that we also have an “Daddy” lesson.

Somewhere, at some point…he gave us more than a smile and a laugh. He shaved off a piece of his wisdom and shared it with us. To carry on.

“Daddy” loved many things in life, his family, his work, his sports, and his causes. But I think one of the most important legacies he gave to us, were the stories he told. These stories taught us something without us even realizing it.

The stories showed his love for life. They showed his love for us and ours for him. When we tell others, he will live on through us.

These stories are what make my Daddy immortal.

So….Once Upon a Time, there was a man named “Daddy”…

There was also a poem that one of my Father’s good friends read at the service. It was one that had comforted my Step-Mom and when she had shared it with me and asked me if I thought it would be a good verse to use at his service and on his memorial cards, I wholeheartedly agreed. It speaks to me.

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads his white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. he is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch him until, at length, he hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, he is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. he is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as he was when he left my side.
And, he is just as able to bear his load of living freight to his destined port.
His diminished size is in me — not in him.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, he is gone,”
there are other eyes watching him coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “here he comes!”

And that is dying…

For years, my one greatest fear has been what would happen to me when my Daddy died. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend it. He had always been my best friend and my first love. He was my moral compass, my sounding board, my biggest fan, and the character in which all other’s were measured.

I felt like a little lost child, left out in the rain.

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How was I to possibly live in a world in which he didn’t exist?

But so far, I am existing. It’s a different life. It is not an easy one by any means. I’m anxious and on medication for panic attacks which I had never had before. Depression lurks around every corner…I stave it off with light and laughter. But I also fear that I am holding off the heart breaking task of mourning for my father. My Step-Mom says that I must be patient with myself, that everyone grieves differently. To let it come as it comes.

But I fear I am not doing it right.

My Doctor says that my anxiety is coming from pent up emotions.

So obviously, my grief is mashed up inside there, cramped and shoved down…

Christmas.

This year I was manic in my shopping. I adopted a senior and a child in need and spent the love and money on them that I would have bestowed on my Daddy.

I spent the day with my family. My Mom, my Husband, my little Brother and his Wife, my Aunt, my Step-Mom, and my Step-Brother and his wife.

I did not cry.

We all recollected stories about my Dad. The funny things he said and did. The Christmas Gifts we had surprised him with over the years. A saw, a coat, a pair of glow in the dark crab boxers.

We shared love with one another.

So…this is my second post this year. It is also my last for 2013.

I hope next year is better. I hope I can come back and write more. Share life with you all. Inspire. Challenge. Grow.

Till then….

Happy New Year my friends and loved ones.

Till we meet again….

©2013 Gori Rajkumari

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15 thoughts on “Blue Christmas…One Year in Virginia.

  1. Hi,

    I dont know you…and I am at some corner of world. But you put tears in my eyes. You made me to care about my parent more than before.
    What else I can say…

  2. Hi,

    I dont know you…and I am at some corner of world. But you put tears in my eyes. You mafe me to care aboyt my parent more than before.
    What else I can say…

  3. So sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine. Grief is all-consuming, and never-ending…there is not much you can do but just keep moving, and appreciate the little things. It was beautiful what you wrote for your dad.
    What a rough year you had. Wishing for a better year ahead….take care.

  4. Hey.

    How are you holding up?

    My heartfelt condolences to your losses.

    Virginia…. when I first came across that word, it was from a half-torn fantasy book about green men, Barsoom, and I was eleven. Even then, it gave me an impression of a country open and wild with bright hot summer sun and cold, snowy, tall winter mountains and strong, tall men who lived making their own way, with honour, whatever may be their fate….

    As I grew up, I realised that people are just people, some types are the same everywhere and most follow a similar mould, despite their physical differences….

    Yet, over the past few years that I have learnt of your father, through you, my childhood memories of the Virginian man were stirred anew and I now know that he was such a man, only better and more real than any I could imagine.

    The Virginian of my childhood fantasies, John Carter, was a near immortal man who lived through all that Life threw at him, his ever-young head held high.
    Of course, that was a mythical man, yet a man may yet grow up to be immortal, and still escape the circles of this mortal World, such as your father lives on through his stories, his deeds and through the chief torchbearer of his ideals and values, you and your family.

    So, yes, let grief come, let it consume you in its heavy embrace, and you withstand its cold, sharp blade through your very heart, so you may begin to heal yourself, through the dark, cold winters into warm summer sun.

    Remember, even this, too, shall fade….

    (Here’s a song that I know you know, too.)

    Home is behind, the world ahead
    And there are many paths to tread
    Through shadow, to the edge of night
    Until the stars are all alight

    Mist and shadow
    Cloud and shade
    All shall fade
    All shall fade

    You will wake up to a brighter day.

  5. I have been thinking about you and wondering how you’ve been. We both had a rough year with our Dad’s and I am sorry you had to spend Christmas without your father. I can’t image what you’ve been going through. Thinking of you and wishing 2014 brings you peace.

  6. So sorry to hear of your losses, my deepest condolences.
    My father too suffered esophageal cancer.
    He survived multiple surgeries & several rounds of chemotherapy. It was thought that he was in remission but the cancer had metastasized to his brain & was inoperable.
    It was a long suffering, painful death.
    He fell into a deep depression & never recovered.
    Take care of yourself & give yourself lots of time & a ‘wide berth’ so to speak.
    Love,
    Bibi

    • Thank you for your kind words Tamasha. They are comforting. I’m very sorry what happened to your own father. Esophageal Cancer is a horrid thing. My Daddy didn’t die of it…but I do think he died due to it and the curing of it. I am blessed that he hung on for three years to give me a chance to come home and spend some beautiful and happy times with him. My condolences and love to you and your family. Please take care of yourself as well. Comment here whenever you need. HUGS.

  7. This is very beautiful. I remember suffering a catastrophic loss myself a long time ago (24 years!) and I still to this day have some issues dealing with it. But, on that same note, it taught me a lot about myself. Back then I was too young to know how to hold much in but somehow I just couldn’t talk because I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t put words into what I was feeling. I think you’ll release all of these feelings when you’re able to. Things will get better. One day, you’ll remember the happy memories more than the pain you’re currently suffering. I promise.

    Make sure you don’t blame yourself in any way for not being able to release these feelings. It’s very scary and quite difficult to let them go.

    You were very fortunate to have known such a wonderful, loving father and to have been able to spend his last year with him. I know you gave him great comfort and probably helped him through a lot more than you realize. Someday you will be able to hold onto that and know that when he needed you most, you gave him the most precious gift and that you made his last year better than anyone else ever could have. You’ll find peace in knowing that you were his strength just as much as he was yours. He has only left you in body. His memories, his spirit, his love all still live on and will be there to guide you through the rest of your life. Think about what he would say to you about how you feel and honor his memory by following his advice. It will help you more than anything. >Hugs!<

    • Thank you American Punjaban, a truly beautiful sentiment expressed perfectly. I often think about what he would say or advise me to do…but here come recently those thoughts come at the most inopportune time. Like when choosing eggs in the supermarket or standing in line at the library. Daddy always did have a sense of humor and I imagine he would find these situations funny. But I think he would also be very upset that these seem to be the only times that my subconscious is willing to let me ponder them or attempt to cry. That is, essentially, what I need to work out.

      Otherwise, in my other moments, I’m happy. Being back in the US has made a huge difference in my outlook on life. I’m not nearly so negative and judgmental anymore. Although, I fear that India herself instigated those feelings in me with the constant litany of tomfoolery Bear and I endured. Time will tell for sure, but Bear is much a happier, content, and relaxed person here than I ever saw him in India.

      Hugs to you and yours. Happy New Year.

      • I’m glad being home has helped you so much. I too feel much more at peace here for similar reasons. So much less negative energy here. I think I know something that might help you. I listen to Dr. Ellen Kenner a lot, she’s fabulous! She has this woman come on fairly regularly who promotes active thinking. If you need to focus the times you think of him, maybe her website can help you.

        http://thinkingdirections.com/

        She has some ‘thinking on paper’ techniques that I just love! It’s extremely helpful for clearing your mind at appropriate times of the day. Good luck and hang in there!

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