What a Year

Today is the one year anniversary of my father’s passing. The anniversary effects have been working on me this week. I have felt anniversary effects from many traumas and losses. It took many years to realize that my August sickness, some malady or other that disappeared after the 11th passed was my body holding the trauma of rape and the onset of my first period.

Losing my mother in 2002 gave me another anniversary to acknowledge and remember. Now I am remembering my dad. This week has been rough. Anxiety has never been a major symptom until now. Breathing through what felt like the onset of panic attacks is how I have gotten through each day this week. Fuzzy-head and slowed word retrieval is more common for me under stress.

My father’s decline and death was relatively rapid. He was under hospice care for less than a week. One month to the day of his death, my sister-in-law, Peggy was diagnosed with AML (leukemia) and died nine months later.

It feels like my job this past year was to deal with Dad’s estate, what there was of it. I was the executor so it really was my job. I did not anticipate the emotional difficulty, the guilt, regret and sadness I felt over and over. Too many decisions. I had a standing weekly date with Reggie from Objects Found in Catonsville for her to come with a van and some weeks a van and truck to take items for resale. I gave metal objects to my friend Dottie for her folk art and vintage items to my friend Vanessa for her shop in Federal Hill. Thankfully, my husband took charge of some major cleaning out. Two dumpster later, four trucks of donations, freecycle give-aways and scrap metal pickups, the house, garage and out buildings are empty. Repairs are complete. The house is ready for a new family.

Dad’s death marked the beginning of the year in which the most difficult work was supporting Peggy, my brother Dan, and their adult daughters. I had helped my mother, my aunt and my dad in their dying. I spent a lot of time with Peg in the beginning, in the hospital right after her diagnosis when the reality of limited time was present but there was hope of additional time if she could receive a bone marrow transplant. Once the possibility of more time faded and the discussions shifted to quality of life, I said what I thought Peggy needed to hear and focused on Dan and the girls so they could do what they needed to do during Peggy’s final weeks.

And life continues. We had two bathroom remodels for our hundred year old house. We took a fabulous trip with David’s family in and around Italy. My sons, Anton and Sasha are finishing their degrees and interviewing for jobs. David was able to check off ‘seeing the Northern Lights’ from his bucket list. Birthdays, Christmas, Mothers and Fathers Days celebrated in a different way. Keeping some rituals, letting go others.

A year filled with receiving diagnoses and learning how to cope and manage, getting loved ones through broken bones, surgeries, betrayals and heartbreak. Normal life. Learning to navigate each year and each day as the new normal. Life without parents, life with loved ones creating their own lives and others coping with their current lives with diminished capacities and capabilities.

This indeed has been some year.

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