On my Timehop ever since the end of April, when it was my first emergency surgery, I've been looking back at the pictures from a year ago & thinking, "You had no idea what was ahead".... & then as I get past the surgery pictures.... it really has hit my emotions this past week. Knowing that time was limited with my time with my daddy.
He had no idea... but the countdown to the end of his life was on.
It's crazy to look back at that now.
It's choked me up & just been the most surreal thing to look back on.
"This is the last picture my dad posted on Facebook" (it was of me after my surgery)
"This is the last email I got from my dad"
"This was the last comment my dad made on my blog"
"This is the last time I saw him with his horse"
"This is what I looked like the last day I talked to dad"
... & then the 14th comes & its the one day I didn't talk to my dad. I dont know why... I talked to my dad every single day. Either on the phone, or through email - but I always had some contact with him... & for some reason - last May 14th, I didnt.
& May 15th, he was laying in a hospital unresponsive.
I dont know how or why some things work.
Did dad not feel good that day?
Why did he call other people he didn't typically talk to, but not call me?
So many questions go through my mind....
& yet, here we are. One year later.
In true Wood fashion, we don't do anything normal or small.... & the 15th is the day my dad's body turned on him. The day we lost him - I always say the 15th was when his spirit left him.... & yet, his body gave out on the 16th, around 5am... so his death certificate says he passed away on the 16th, but to us, he left us on the 15th.... so I always say that my dad passed away on 2 days. See, the Woods dont' do anything usual or ordinary.
|The picture on the left... when we had to let go & say goodbye|
The picture on the right was when we first got to see him after getting the news of the dire circumstances
You can see what the toll his body went through those 19 hours
Over the past few weeks, so much has been brought up to my mind - things I think about over & over - the things I can't shake some days. The things that replay over & over. The things that define grief to me.....
So todays post isn't cheery & rainbows & butterflies, but on the one year date where we lost dad, I'm just going to put them out there... call it therapy 101.... I call it reflecting in utter shock that I've gone around this world in a complete rotation, 365 days, without my daddy......
I always hear if you are ushered into a little room in a hospital, to be nervous. When I called my brother & told him I was at the hospital, he said to meet him at the room at the entrance. I walked in & it never clicked to me we were in THE "room".
It was all just crazy timing too because when I got to the hospital, I just told the receptionist, I'm there to see Tom Wood - & they let me go back. I didnt see my brother so I just walked around... unknowingly, I was standing right by dad's room & never looked in there. I'm so glad I didnt because I'm sure the sight of what was happening before knowing the circumstances that lay ahead may have made me pass out.
But the even crazier thing was my brother said he just KNEW I was there. He said he told his wife, "Rebecca is here - I can feel it" & that's when I called him & told him I couldn't find him... & he met me at the room.
As soon as we walked in & Tony told me, the doctor told us to wait here (why didnt I see red flags????), the doctor ended up walking in the other entrance to the room & delivered the news to us that dad would not be waking up & his brain was 75% full of blood.... then mumble mumble mumble... everything else was just sort of mumbled to me. Enough so, that I looked at my sister in law & said, "What did he just say?" - like she could talk clearer.... the doctor then repeated everything word for word what he just said previously.
.... people talk about moments in your life that stand out in a memory as a moment that changes your life.... this was that moment....
Now, every time I'm in a hospital, I look for these "little rooms" everywhere. & let me tell you, being in the ER a few more times after dad has passed away - with my own surgery & taking mom there, I pass that room on the corner every time & just want to throw up.
I had left my house on the 15th at the usual time - 6:50am. Got the text from my brother they were going to the ER around 9:50am... got to the hospital & stayed there till 6:30am on the 16th. I still can remember how tired I was driving home, in pure shock of what just happened & also just numb. I honestly thought I was going to fall asleep behind that wheel, in the car alone. Ricky was driving his car behind me & had me on the phone to keep me & himself awake.... but man, what a long drive. A country road is long anyways on a good day - but on a
When I walked into the house, I literally just shed my clothes. I wanted the smell of that hospital off of me. I wanted to just lay down.... & I threw my dress in the bottom of my closet & threw on a robe & instantly fell asleep.
Do you know... we are at 1 year & that dress is still in the bottom of my closet.
I just can't touch it. I haven't moved it - I've thrown things on top if it & have picked those up - but I just cant touch that dress. I've thought about getting it up & dry cleaning it & using it for a celebration of some sort - even thought about wearing it to the Steven Curtis Chapman concert tomorrow night.... but I just can't.
I love that dress too... but the memory of it now & what it represents to me...
I'm not sure what to do there.... leave it? Have someone pick it up for me?
I dont know how to handle this one...
It honestly freaks me out & blows my mind that my dad passed away around 5am & we were sitting in a funeral home making decisions at 12pm. 7 hours later.... on 2 hours sleep.... making these huge decisions. It just gives me such anxiety thinking about it. Even more so - I think, my dad was alive 24 hours ago & we're sitting in the funeral home picking out his casket. There has nothing that has been so surreal to me. Planning how you want to handle such a big event - & you do it in such a rush. I mean, look how long it takes to plan a wedding & that's basically a few hour event. A funeral? That's what they're clothed in forever. That's what they lay in forever. It's where their body rests forever. & let's make this decisions quicker than I make my grocery list.
I think we handled it incredibly well... people STILL talk to me about how beautiful the service was & the way we did dad's funeral.... but man, the pressure. The thinking if it could have been better if we were able to even get a good night's sleep.
People ask me all the time how did I speak at my father's funeral.... but I felt like I had to - & I dont know if I was just "Misison minded" because I didn't cry... at my father's funeral. I'm not even sure I really cried during the whole day before at the funeral home. I think I was so shocked, I honestly COULDNT cry. I've always had thoughts on what it would be like when/if my dad passed away & I just envisioned I would be inconsolable ... & yet, I stood up in front of people & spoke. I was the one who comforted others, hugging them telling them it would be OK.
I always thought when I saw my dad laying there for the first time in that casket, I wouldnt be able to handle it. What happened? I helped my mom fix his hair, helped organize flowers, helped get everything ready for the opening to visitors.... get the job done, make sure everything is just right, work, work, work.
I think I've always been a kind of person that when tragedy happens, I'm the tough one. I am the one who feels like I need to hold it together for everyone. I'm the one who wants to help in these situations. I seriously entertained being a church chaplain at one time in my life because I felt like it was a gift God has given me.
Which is kind of crazy because I'm typically the one who freaks out over small things & gets anxiety about simple issues & emotion? I'm crying over Sarah McLachlan commercials .... but my own father's funeral? It still just blows my mind the way my mind handled it. I still struggle with emotion when it comes to his passing. Crying in front of anyone about it? No... but let me drive down the road & have some sort of memory of dad & I'll bawl my eyes out till I can't breath. Being alone & think of him or run across his picture? I feel like someone has punched me in the gut & I literally can't breath. But if someone is there or someone asks me about him .... that "I'm good - I can handle this" emotion comes back into play.
It makes me even feel bad. Like an awful daughter. I mean, I couldnt even breath from crying at my best friend's funeral... ... & when our dogs passed away? Forget it, I couldnt move out of my bed for a week....
In my mind, I just feel like it's the living out of the scripture of leaning into God for HIS strength & not my own. I have to feel like this was God's protection of my heart in all this.... no other way I could have made it through.
.... I dont think I ever told this story... but me & my mom laugh about it.
On the way to the funeral home the day of my dad's funeral, I had a case of sparkling water in the back of my car. It wasn't hot - it wasn't cold. It was just a cool morning, cloudy, nothing special about the weather. All of a sudden, a can of my sparkling water explodes in the back of my car. Scared us both to death. Next thing - another can. Now, the drive from our house to the funeral home is about a 30 minute drive & do you know, the ENTIRE drive up, a can would explode.... when we pulled into the parking lot, one last can exploded. I got out & opened up the hatch of my car & that was it - every single can had exploded. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? I mean, if I've ever had a can explode in my car, its because it was hot, or extremely cold. & then, its usually ONE can .... not the entire case.. & it wasn't even like the cans were distorted from a pressure of any sort. It was the craziest thing. I'm glad my mom was in the car with me to attest that it happened. We both said it was just dad poking us to let us know he was near on this day we were so lost without him.
So we had found a note my dad had written before (We estimated it was years before because he referenced the twins being little) but he had said when he left this world, for us to keep an eye out for white horses & the number 444 & for us to know he was near..... OK, so on the morning of his funeral, it was the royal wedding of Harry & Meagan. I am that person who got up to watch Princess Di's wedding when I was little. I watched William & Kate's wedding... so I was used to going witout sleep in the week dad passed away so got up early to watch this wedding. & didn't think anything of it - until someone who knew about my dad's note said, "You know your dad just gave you his first sign, right"... what in the world? ... she said, "All morning long, I just kept thinking, look - there's white horses everywhere.... & 4 of them driving the bride & groom... on the day of his funeral"....
I didnt even think about it... but that's pretty cool, isn't it?
You know, its weird to hit that one year mark. I mean, I know none of us are making it out of this world alive (dad used to tell me that ALL THE TIME) but you just dont really think its going to happen. You never focus on it. & it did indeed happen to us. In a blink of an eye.... & it still feels unreal.
I still have those moments of thinking he's a phone call away. Ricky wanted to call him when he watch a western movie the other day & thought, Oh, wait. When we found some old slides with pictures of dad with his grandparents, I instantly thought, "Dad is going to be so excited to see these pictures". Dad's presence is still so much around.... & yet, I still can't believe he's not.
I'm hoping as we get past this year mark, I start focusing more on the fun memories ... the good memories... instead of focusing from the moment I was rushing to the hospital, up to the pain of knowing we've 'survived' one year without him....
Grief is just a funny thing... the way it makes you feel... the memories it brings to mind....
& I know that every year, I'll still think back on where we were - how it played out - how unbelievable it was ... & I'm sure that pain will always be there & the emptiness that is our life without my daddy. But I'm also praying that it gets a smidgen easier too.
You are missed dad.... our world just isn't the same without you.... never will be....
We are doing our best though. Trying to find the joy in a day like you always did. You definitely taught us that.... live for today, love forever.