Tuesday afternoon I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers arranged in the glory of fall colors, perfect to dress my Thanksgiving table. I set them on the kitchen counter and immediately felt the prick of tears at my eyes. The card read exactly what I knew it would: "Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Dad"
My dad loved to send flowers. An evergreen wreath on December 1st, tulips to mark the Easter season, pink roses for the birth of each of my babies, glorious red ones for Valentines day, fragrant lilies when my heart was breaking. Always thoughtful, always present. I'm sure I came to expect it, maybe even take it for granted.
So constant was he in his practice, that his flower shop of choice sent him a large arrangement upon his death. He was probably one of their best customers.
The Thanksgiving flowers, a sweet gesture from my eldest brother, in memory of our dad, left me shaken for the rest of the evening. Some days seem almost normal as I occupy myself with the busyness of my life. And then there are small and simple things, like fall hued flowers crowding an amber colored vase, that crush me with the weight of missing him. It is a heaviness that I was not prepared for, even though I thought I was ready.
It has been six weeks since I held dad's hand and whispered my good-byes in his ear, resting my cheek against his own. Six weeks since I heard his voice or felt his arms around me. Six weeks since I've been warmed by his smile and enveloped in his spirit.
In six weeks, I've grown into maternity clothes. We've celebrated three birthdays, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Cole's football team made the playoffs, Rachel mastered her power round off back tuck, we had two straight A report cards, and Miles gave up his bottle. The Utes are BCS bowl bound (I know dad is smiling from ear to ear at their game against the Cougs), we've elected a new president, and had the first snow of the season. Life is in constant forward motion, as are we.
I know dad would expect us to move forward, would want us to get on with the show, continue to progress, succeed, press on. But did he know how hard it would be without him here? Did he realize how many things, big and small, remind us of him? Perhaps it was me that didn't realize the magnitude of this loss until I experienced it, didn't realize what an integral part of my life he was, until he was gone.
"Grief is a most peculiar thing, we're so helpless in the face of it. It's like a window that will simply open of its' own accord. The room grows cold and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time and a little less and one day we wonder what has become of it, only then are we left with our happy memories in place of the sorrow."
I look forward to the next six weeks, to learning the sex of our baby, to serving the homeless vets in honor of my dad, celebrating the Christmas season with my family, to entering my third trimester and taking a holiday vacation. I know there will continue to be moments of heartache and the heavy toll of missing him. But I also know that it will all be okay....eventually.