The End of 2012

Less than three weeks after I posted last, Jesse’s dad lost his battle with cancer. He passed away on November 27th, a Tuesday, about a year after his diagnosis.

This past year has been difficult, to say the least. I haven’t written here much. How do you write that your father-in-law is dying? How do you say your husband is losing his best friend? I never found the words for that. So, I stayed mostly silent. Posted a lot of cat pictures. What else do you do?

We spent Thanksgiving with Jesse’s family. After Thanksgiving, Tom wanted to go to Key West, and we somehow made the trip south, got to the resort, which Tom had selected and booked, and tried our very best to have a good time. We smiled in all of our pictures.

See?


We did our best impersonation of a happy vacationing family. We ate Cuban food. We lounged on the beach in hammocks. Jesse, Becki, and I walked Duval Street. But we weren’t just a happy vacationing family. We were taking Tom on his last trip to Key West, and we knew it. We knew the end was approaching; we just didn’t know how long we had left.

The stress was unbelievable. But, the oddest thing is when I look back on that trip, it’s mostly happy memories I have. Tom was able to sit in a hammock, smoke a cigar, drink a pina colada, and eat Cuban food. One more time. And that is what he wanted more than anything else.

We came home on a Sunday. Jesse and I left for North Carolina that Monday. And on Tuesday, he died.

The first two weeks after his death were hell. I don’t use the phrase lightly.

I don’t want to write about those first two weeks.

There were bright moments, too. Our friends brought us food and kept us alive during the worst of it. We had a wonderful visit from Simona and Darren, two of the dearest people in the world. We received several amazing care packages. My students were incredibly supportive and understanding.

So now, we keep smiling for pictures. We have gotten good at it. It’s amazing how much pain you can be in and still manage to smile for pictures.

I guess, in a way, that’s what life is. Finding joy in pain, looking for beauty in darkness. Squeezing every tiny bit of happiness out of a bad situation. Enjoying the sun on your face and the sound of the waves hitting the sand, even when you know your world is about to come to an end.

So, I leave you with a picture and a quote. Goodbye, 2012.

“Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.” – Terry Tempest Williams

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