I did not expect to lose it in the shower. I was fine before I got in. But as my hands gently scrubbed my scalp and my mind began to wander, I considered all the tasks I needed to get done on this day. And that is when it came to me; this is…hard. It was then that my salty tears mingled with the cascade of hot water pouring down from the showerhead and put simply: I lost it.
Crying unexpectedly; this is what people mean when they say grief comes in waves.
My brother and I are cleaning out my father’s house. Because my mother passed away earlier this year and because Dad no longer lives there, we are going to rent his home (Dad doesn’t want to sell it). And so we are cleaning and sorting and selling. We are going through old clothes and old photos and old memories. We are deciding what to keep, and what to let go.
Letting go, both physically and emotionally is tough.
And so on this day I am grieving my loss of what was and what is no more. It has hit me hard but I am searching for the good. I am looking for the silver lining.
As a Christian, I know I can count on silver linings. I know there is good behind what I sometimes perceive as bad or sad or difficult. There is purpose in things I do not understand. There are countless verses in the Bible to remind me of these truths. In Proverbs 3:5-6 I read that we are to have faith, even when we do not understand. In Jeremiah 29:11 God tells me he has plans for me and his plans are prosperous plans, plans to give me hope and a future. All things, God tells me, work together for my good, the good of all those who love him (Romans 8:28).
As a Christian, I am asked to have faith: I am asked to love and trust God regardless of my circumstances. And so, I will.
So what is my silver lining in this year of change and grief? It takes a minute, or thirty, but eventually it comes to me. My silver lining is…My father.
My father, who lost his wife, who spent his own time in the hospital dealing with issues related to Parkinson’s, who had the rug pulled out from under him when he suddenly had to move into assisted living…My father, is doing well.
He is coping with his grief.
He is making a new life for himself in his new home. He smiles, he laughs, and he accepts the changes that have come his way.
He is doing new things. In fact, the truth is, my father’s social calendar is much more exciting than mine.
While I’ve been worrying that my Dad would sit around his apartment all alone, I’ve discovered he’s never in his room when I call.
While I’ve worried he might lose interest in his hobbies, I’ve discovered he’s still excited to go to every Colts game, every tail gate, every soccer game and cross country meet of my daughters (how did I ever think he’d lose interest in sports?).
While I worried he’d become bored, my dad has been filling his time doing things he’s never done before.
In August he went to the fair. He stuffed himself with fair food and rode the giant slides.
In September he went fishing on a local lake. Two pontoon boats filled with senior citizens catching largemouth bass. #prettycool.
In October he called to tell me he went zip lining. ZIP LINING. He even made the local newspaper with that one.
And this month, I found a picture of him on Twitter. TWITTER. He was posing at the resident Luau party.
In a matter of weeks my dad will accompany my family to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. Due to mom’s illness, he hasn’t flown in a number of years; it will be good to see him put his toes in the sand.
It has been a rough year for my family for sure. Things are now different, they will never be what they once were. But if my dad can cope, than so can I.
Cleaning out my dad’s house? Not particularly fun. But I will remember it as a house that was well lived in, a house once filled to the brim with laughter and love. I can be grateful for that.
And besides, my Dad may be giving up his house, but he isn’t giving up on living. It’s exactly what my mother would have wanted for him. It is my silver lining, and it’s a good one.
It did my heart good to see the photos of John, and to know that he is still finding joy in life. I, like you, have had my moments of unexpected crying and grief overtake me. I admire your dad for meeting his new challenges in such a way. It is what Sue would have wanted. He loved her and cared for and stood by her through her illness. I am sure that was a stressful time for him while dealing with his Parkinson’s. Thanks so much for this article, it meant a lot to me. I know it is hard to go through the house and have all those memories triggered. My prayers are with you.
Thank you. 🙂 I am proud of my Dad, and you are right, it’s what mom would have wanted for him. He and Mom both never complained about her illness, they were always very brave and positive. Great role models for me.
Tracy…your insight and timing is a Godsend. This article is ‘right on’ for myself and I especially see that Joyce needed this for her life right at this moment. She is such a resilient individual and so strong (typical of all the women in your family) However she has much more on her plate than anyone should have to endure. I know she misses her mom and your mom tremendously. I am so grateful to you for your words, your mother for her shared kindness and Joyce for her loving heart. I am so proud to see that your Dad is handling his Parkinson’s with fortitude. My father also was a victim of the same disease and faced it as your father is doing. Thanks once again for your understanding nature. You are a treasure! Janice
Thank you for your very kind words Janice, they mean a lot. You are so right about Joyce, she is strong, caring and kind, and a blessing to her family! I am sorry to hear your father too had Parkinson’s but glad to know he faced it well. Attitude is so important.
I can relate to those overwhelming feelings of sadness that come on without warning. When we closed down my dad’s business after his death every little thing reminded me of him. His shop had a certain smell, and sometimes when I come across a tool that was his or something I brought home, that smell can bring tears to my eyes.
How wonderful that your dad is enjoying life to the fullest. I’m really impressed! And yes, what a blessing! Praying all of you will have a wonderful time together as a family in Florida. And may the Lord give you His incredible peace and comfort and the blessed perspective of seeing the silver lining. Hugs!
Thank you for your comment Sabra. Yes, the sense of smell, amazing how much memory is tied to it, isn’t it? Thank you for your wisdom, perspective and virtual hugs! 🙂
My name is Ashlee. I’m co-founder of The Youshare Project (and fellow Hoosier!), with the mission to connect people around the world through stories. I recently stumbled across your blog and read the post entitled “Finding My Silver Lining.” It’s beautifully written with a strong and inspiring message. I believe it would make a wonderful youshare, because perhaps it could help others going through similar or other trying experiences to find their own silver lining. If this sounds interesting to you, I would love to email you directly with more information and formally invite you to share your story with the project.
You have my email address and website (although please note the site is still under development). I hope to hear from you soon!
Thanks for your email. Yes I am interested in hearing more about Youshare, I love the idea behind it. Please feel free to email me further information at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would want to maintain rights to any work as I am working on a book and some blog content may go into it. Thanks and look forward to your email. -Tracy
Tracy, All I can say is that what you said about your Father is one of the most beautiful writings I have ever read. I would only hope that someone in my family could write just a fraction of what you said about John. Knowing him as a close friend for over 50 years I can certainly say that he epitomized all that you wrote. Thank you for sharing your words with Patty and me. Uncle Rick
Thank you Uncle Rick, that means a lot. I’m sure the all the changes and grieving have been hard for Dad, yet he has done so well and he truly seems content and is enjoying his new adventures. I’m so very grateful for that!
Oh, Tracy! What a fantastic writing!!!How proud your Mother must be of you!!!and….your grandma!!! Bless your heart!!! I know the holidays have probably been very hard for you…the 1st is always the worst i think..plus..i saw on my calendar your mother just had a birthday recently….she sure was a wonderful person….and..even though i haven’t had the privilege of really knowing you….you must be pretty awesome also!God bless you!Diana Lorenzen
Thank you Diana, I appreciate your comments. Yes, mom did just have a birthday, she would have been 74 last Monday. Sometimes it is still hard to believe she is gone. Mom always enjoyed your company, she talked about you a lot. So even though we don’t know each other well, we are connected through her. 🙂
Tracy, You know, my mother has been gone for 10 years…and..it is still hard to believe she is gone also….your mother talked about you alot also:)))and..Brown county…I am so happy that your Dad is doing so well!How was your trip to Florida for Thanksgiving with him?
My daughter, Jennie[she was born on your grandma’s birthday:)] had open heart surgery 7 years ago..and..your mother was so awesome and took her homemade soup and checked on her often…Jennie lived in Indy then..now she lives in SF.Take care, Tracy…..Love, Diana
Our trip to FL was good. I think Dad really had a nice time. Thanks Diana, you take care too! 🙂