Monday, May 5, 2014

Breathing

**Sorry, the following is not jewelry related. But it is part of my life, along with my creations.**

My heart is heavy. It is said that every 41 seconds, a person is notified that their loved one has taken their life. On March 23rd, I was one of those people. I am an official statistic. My father took his life. Just like that, I'm fatherless. My sister and I no longer have a Dad. What led him to do this? I will never know.

By now weeks have passed and the wound is still fresh. Two Saturdays ago we celebrated his life in a bittersweet ceremony in McKinley Park. It's a complete whirlwind to me. I saw many familiar faces that greeted me with love and affection. I can't even remember what was said. All I can remember is a hundred hugs, hugs that try to express love and sadness, and words that cope to find meaning. I am grateful for these hugs, but they can't give me the one hug I long to have.

I saw my Dad for the last time the week before it happened. He came to pick up his mail. We chatted for a short while, then he was out the door. His last words to me were "I'll see you later, Mija" as he waved goodbye. That was all. Short and sweet. He seemed to be in a good mood. But what do I know?

I don't know his inner struggles or demons he was coping with.

My head keeps buzzing. Each time I sit and try to comprehend my Dad, my entire head buzzes. From the back of my head to the front electrons are firing, trying to make sense of it all. I can remember hearing the words "Your dad shot himself", understanding what those words mean, yet still not making sense. It's out of my grasp. I can't make it tactile. As an artist (of sorts), I like to feel things with my hands to get a better understanding. Many times I use my eyes to get up close to a painting or sculpture (especially at a gallery or museum when I can not use my hands) to see the brush strokes or indentations another artist poured into a piece of work. I have not been able to touch, see or feel my father to make this real. Sure, I've sorted through his belongings. Hugged his sweater, worn his rings.  But I haven't touched or seen this end result to make it real. Not that I would really want to...I've already been traumatized enough. The closest I've gotten is to the police report. To read the encapsulated, vivid picture written by a police officer. That, and the box that now house his remains.

And my head keeps buzzing. I listen to the music he shared with me. Nights he allowed us girls to stay up late so that he could share songs and the stories and years associated with them. Concerts we went to together. I've scoured hundreds of photographs looking at his face - deep into his eyes. Attempting to manifest his being into reality.

As someone who has fallen away from the church, I was surprised to find myself in the church I grew up attending, begging and pleading for answers. For strength and guidance to lead me through. Searching for an understanding.

I've talked to friends and family. Being comforted by some and annoyed by others. I've taken walks with some, meals with others. I found myself kissing an old friend for hours. That eased the pain for a couple days. I even went on a trip to the coast with another friend, which was a fantastic source to replenish the internal batteries that had been drained! I actually have started to feel more like myself since last weeks trip. Then I suddenly found myself feeling guilty for finally starting to feel better.  In all my reading, it is a common affliction that happens to people who are grieving and mourning. I've tried to knock this guilt out of my being, and found myself actually writing these words in front of me right now.

I know this is all a journey. Sometimes it's hard to believe that the world keeps spinning. At times it forces me to move, reluctantly. So I keep breathing and crying and listening to songs to make me feel "better".

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I say these words, not from a religious standpoint, but as a mantra to get through the unbearable moments that are sometimes longer than others. Breathe.
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