It Happened to Me: I Lost My Father One Year Ago Yesterday

Then lunch time will come, but you won't feel like eating. You will instead feel like turning off all the lights and burying your face in a pillow for an hour, not for a real nap, but just to turn everything off.
Publish date:
April 18, 2012
death, grieving, family drama, fathers

You've had a rough year

Here's what happens on the one-year anniversary of losing your father:

You will maybe spend the day before shopping with your mom, enjoying her company, not losing your patience with her as quickly as you ordinarily do, not reading into every little thing she says like you ordinarily do, since you've moved back home with her in the wake of your dad's death. Almost as if you know, subconsciously, what is coming, and you just want a day of good before whatever is to come tomorrow.

You will say to yourself, "I feel like I'm in a pretty good place right now," because you went on a couple nice dates recently, and because you got a new tattoo that you're kind of in love with (and that may be, in part, sort of a tribute to your father), and because you've been working out, and because you've been meeting new people.

You will notice your mom go to bed earlier than usual that night, and when you wake up the next morning, on the one-year anniversary of your father's death, you will notice she has stayed in bed later than usual. Though you work from home and usually jump immediately onto the computer, today you will take some time to empty the dishwasher for your mom while she gets up and showers, and you will make a pot of coffee and leave the zucchini bread out for her.

You will begin your day thinking, I'm going to handle this day like any other one.It's no different; no better, no worse. I will be fine. And you will post a Facebook status saying how you miss your dad every day, and you will think that this is the only real moment you will allow yourself to fully acknowledge it all day.

Then work will become disastrous, today of all days, because that's what life does. And you will feel that everyone hates everyone, and you will feel in part that it is your fault somehow, that you've fucked something up or that you're not doing your job of keeping the peace. And you will feel, at the same time, that you don't care, and don't these people recognize what day it is, and can't they all just give you a break today?

When a co-worker goes a bit too far with his complaining, where you'd usually combat it and get defensive, you will find yourself just letting his comments lie and not responding at all. Because that takes effort and energy and a general wherewithal you can't seem to muster today, for some reason.

Then lunch time will come, but you won't feel like eating. You will instead feel like turning off all the lights and burying your face in a pillow for an hour, not for a real nap, but just to turn everything off, please God, just turn it off for five fucking minutes, please. You will wind up falling asleep, and you will wake up clutching your baby blanket.

You will feel a bit sick to your stomach upon waking. Your mom will bring in a plate of deviled eggs, because she knows you love them, and you will turn her away and tell her you don't want them. And you will see a flicker of something in her eyes as she walks out that breaks your fucking heart. And then you will put your head on your desk and cry, and you'll wonder why you're crying over deviled eggs, until you realize it's obviously not deviled eggs that you're crying over.

After work, you will drive to the bank, drive anywhere, just to get air. You will skip the gym and not feel guilty about it like you usually do. You will smoke a cigarette and it will make you want to vomit in the parking lot. You will start to drive home, turn on the radio, then immediately turn it off because you can't stand the voices. You will turn back into the parking lot and call your best friend since training wheels, who recently lost her mom and gets it. She will pick up the phone, and instead of saying hello, you will begin to sob and say, "I wasn't prepared for today." She will say what she can, but there's not much anyone could.

You will suddenly become aware that you have been getting by solely on shock for the last year.

You will continue to sit in an empty parking lot, trying to cry it out before you go back home to your mom. You will feel like the wind has been knocked out of you all over again. A year later. You will simultaneously look forward to and dread the future anniversaries where maybe you will just get blackout drunk and aggressively ignore the feelings. Because for these first few years, it seems passively ignoring these feelings is not going to work out so well. These feelings are resilient, and your brain can't beat them.

You will finally drive home, and you will run into your mom at the top of the stairs, and you will hug one another and say "I love you," and then you will both walk in different directions.

You will head to the shower, where you will wash the salt off your face. You will slather on eye cream. You will then sit in your bedroom staring at the floor. You'll go back to the bathroom and pop a Lorazepam. You'll spend the rest of the evening sitting 10 feet from your mother, feeling like a blank slate while she occasionally wipes the tears from her eyes, and you will feel guilty and sad but calm, and you will wonder what tomorrow will feel like. And the day after that and the day after that and the day after that.

You will wish you were back here