Before I begin this post, I wanted to take a minute to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your comments, emails, texts, thoughts, and prayers. My family has been touched and renewed by your presence in our lives this week. You will never know how important every single kind word has been in the midst of our grief. Thank you, dear, dear imaginary friends.
I went back to work today. On Thursday night, Chris and I are going to Atlanta to be with my sister and mom for the arrival of Ginny’s baby, so that leaves me with two days of pre-planning to get my classroom set up and my teaching materials together before the beginning of another school year. I worried that it was too early to go back, but I also didn’t know what I’d do if I stayed home. Besides, my dad was never one to sit at home. “Up and at ‘em!” he’d yell.
So, I went to work. It was hard. I didn’t cry, but I couldn’t really focus on anything either. For the first two hours, I used my label maker to redo any label that already existed in my classroom. I literally typed, waited for it to print, and stuck the label on the folder. Type, wait, stick. Type, wait, stick. No brain work needed, but it was nice to be able to focus on something. I had a few meetings, but I have no idea what we talked about. I think I took good notes, so those will hopefully suffice.
I cried this morning when my alarm went off. I rolled over and snuggled up to Chris and said, “I don’t want things to go back to normal.” He sat there for a minute holding me and then said that he didn’t think things would go back to the old normal. Things will never be that old normal again. But we had to start making a new normal, and that it was okay to be sad about that.
The sadness is dulling slightly, but my heart is getting heavier. Sometimes it literally feels like there is something sitting on my chest. I’ve talked to some friends who have lost a loved one, and they all have said that that heaviness doesn’t ever go away, but you feel it less and less frequently over time. That makes me panic a little inside when people say that, though. I like the heaviness. It reminds me of Dad.
My sister’s doctor has decided to induce her tonight. She is full term, and there is no reason for the baby to sit inside through all this stress. Mostly, though, they are inducing her so that she can have the baby and still be able to attend the memorial service, which will be not this weekend but next. I’m thankful for her doctor and that decision.
I am so excited about meeting this new baby. I’ve already decided that one day, in a few months, Ginny and I will sit together somewhere with a couple glasses of wine and we will talk about my dad’s passing together. We’ll grieve together, hand in hand, which we haven’t been able to do yet. But not this weekend. This weekend we will laugh, dance, sing, and celebrate God’s grace through the arrival of her sweet baby boy. That’s what my dad would have wanted. That’s what he would have done. He would have laughed his booming, loud laugh, and then lowered his voice so that he didn’t scare the baby, all while saying, “I think he’s going to be a golfer!”
And so, a new normal for my family begins today. It’s a normal where my dad isn’t physically present, and if I stop and think about that for too long, it breaks my heart all over again. But it’s a new normal where we are instead charged with carrying my dad’s spirit with us as we move forward. And by tomorrow afternoon, it will be a new normal with a precious baby boy who will carry on my dad’s name and help soothe all our souls.
There is nothing bitter about that sweetness.