The Box — Day 3

Another day, another question in my 10 days of self-evaluation and reflection, aka faux Rosh Hashanah.  The first two questions invoked some strong emotions as I answered the questions.  But, I suppose it wouldn’t lead to true reflection if the questions were soft ball questions.  Asking things like, “Where do you like to eat lunch?” doesn’t really make you think….or maybe it does if you have strong feelings about lunch, lunch foods, lunch habits, and / or lunch places.  I don’t, so the questions that the website 10Q sends are more in line with my expectations.

Question:  Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?


 

It took me awhile to think of an answer for this question because my first inclination was to try to think of milestone birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, etc. that took place this past year.  I couldn’t think of any that I would consider a major milestone.  But it was the 5th anniversary of my father’s death this year, and I relive that milestone each year.

My father’s death marked a major shift in the lives of my family, especially my father’s side of the family.  And while there has been healing, there will never be full recovery.

When I moved into my new house, I also moved a box of files that I brought home with me from Mexico, where my father had been living when he unexpectedly passed away.  Since the time of his death, this box has been sitting in closets, or workshops, or man caves.  Since we closed his estate last year, I had started to finally go through the box and decide what could be shredded and what needed to be saved.  After I moved, it was a project that I took on one weekend.

I only wish that my dad’s box looked so well. A trip from Mexico meant that it was very beat up.

I had looked through this box of files many, many times after my dad first died in an effort to find answers about his health and about his finances.  I knew that the box was a duke’s mixture of items — all the information on the house that he was in the process of buying when he died to a list of the #1 songs on the Billboard chart in 1965.  A single file folder could be a lot of nothing, or it could be full of valuable information.

I hadn’t gone through that box in a couple of years until this year.  And the simple act of cleaning out the box and sorting through his files had a deep impact on me.  I laughed out loud at some of the items that I found, like his application to his 50th high school reunion that took place a couple of months after he died.  On his application, he was asked to answer the question “What have you been doing the last 50 years?”  His response “Living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Yep.  And he answered the question “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” by saying “Being the best at living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Double yep.

I also felt incredibly sad as I found record of some of the times that he struggled, trying to make ends meet, and sometimes finding it hard to do.

Revisiting this box and its items, without the overwhelming grief that accompanied my first forays into its confines immediately after his death, allowed me to feel like I had spent the weekend communing in some small way with my dad.  That is a major happening, whichever way you look at it.

A New Year

We’re halfway into a new year and I have spent a long time thinking about the year that has just passed. What makes a year a “good year” or a “bad year”? Wines have good years, i.e. “Oh, the ’92 pinot was outstanding”, but I think there might actually be criteria used to in bestowing that label. How do you decide if it was a year that you are glad to see end? Can a year be full of fun trips, time spent with family and friends, quality interaction with your spouse, etc. and still be a bad year because of one large devastating event?

I spent the last five months of 2009 just wishing to get to the end of the year. After my dad passed away in August, the year became a “bad” year, perhaps one of, if not the, worst of my life. But up to the point, eight months had passed with what I would have judged to be great events: I sold my house, Matt and I finally were able to live together, we started remodeling our house, we took a great vacation to Playa del Carma in February, and neither of us lost our jobs in the middle of the economic downturn. We were blessed and felt blessed.

One phone call changed that stable feeling for me. One call that informed me that my dad was gone. And with that, eight months (actually 39 years and 3 months) of being Cristy disappeared. What was left was Cristy, but one that was different than before, and 2009 changed thenceforth.

So, I looked forward to 2010 with great anticipation, expecting to feel somehow fresh and new on January 1, maybe not as heavy. The truth was that I didn’t feel much different than I did on the day before, or that I did two weeks before. I have decided that 2009 was a life-altering year. There were good things that happened to me and mine in 2009–Matt and I made our marriage “official” by finally being able to live together (and living together is certainly life-altering!) and I moved to a new town to do so. I also lost a parent in 2009, and nothing can prepare you for the change that takes place from that event. I will never be the same person I was because he is gone — I do not have a earthly father anymore and as such, I am altered irrevocably.

Was it a bad year? No, it wasn’t a bad year, but it will forever be linked in my mind with my dad’s death. As such, it will always be remembered as a bad year because I was forced to face the reality of losing someone I love. I am surviving, though, so I will continue to have hope and faith for the new year.