December 11, 2017

When the Walls Came Tumbling Down



I used to write. I loved it. I had so many thoughts in my mind and I’ve always found it sort-of therapeutic to get them down on paper. Sometimes I’d shared my words publicly on my blog, or in a Facebook/Instagram post, and sometimes I just wrote for me. It happened in journals, in pages/word documents, in my iPhone notes app… the sentences seemed to overflow out of my soul on so many occasions, and letting them all spill out onto the pages made my heart relax, my anxiety ease, and my inner being feel at peace again. It’s been months since this has happened and I sit here today finally able to let some of it start to seep out.

It’s been a hard ‘heart’ year and my thoughts seem too much to bear at times. Resonating on them by unloading them onto paper has made me anxious, unsure and afraid. I often find myself just plain old avoiding them. But here I am on the brink of the Christmas season that I love most and the sadness, anxiety and fear of the year is looming over it all making it a struggle to embrace the way I always have. Have you ever felt like one of the things you love most is impossible to enjoy right now?

I’ve spent the last several months breaking down into tears at random moments. It’s happened at the grocery store, at the gym, in the office of my children’s school. I stood even just yesterday during worship at church and as I tried to sing, I just sobbed. I sit here in my studio, my living room, and my car often still in disbelief at all of it. The ache of the loss doesn’t seem to lift. The world continues to go on with people hustling and bustling all around me, yet I feel like I’m still where I was days, weeks, even months ago. I can’t seem to move forward sometimes. It feels like I’m living my life under water.

I’m writing this today fully intentionally, and it is uncomfortable. I didn’t know if I would share these words. I’m still uncomfortably wondering if I should have. It’s hard to be vulnerable. I’ve spent the last several months locking my emotions up, trying to be solid and steel-like proving to those around me that I can get through even life’s most difficult twists with a positive attitude and firm faith, but the truth is that it’s been complicated. The grief. The mourning. Things have been messy over these last several months and I’ve often felt lost. I haven’t wanted to unleash the feelings that are hibernating inside my chest. I’ve been resisting acknowledging them even myself. Perhaps I’m just holding on to them because this is all I have left holding me together.

It’s been the hardest, saddest and most uncomfortable year of my life. And in saying this, I look back and realize it hasn’t even been a year. It all started in June – 6 months ago. My life, and a big part of the person that I’ve always known myself to be got left back there. Everything changed quickly when we found out that my father was ill. Within moments, a phone call was received and tests were completed showing us that the strongest, most loving man in our lives could be leaving us much too soon. Although we remained hopeful through his quick and unsuccessful battle, the blow to my heart began right back then.

I lost my father to liver cancer on October 3rd and it hurt deeply to watch him slip away from us so quickly. It hurt more than I’ll ever be able to put into words. My heart aches daily for the loss of this inspiring man. It still hurts so much and I’m not sure that will ever go away. Then it was only three weeks later that we also lost my Grandmother. Watching my mother say goodbye to her husband and her mother within a 3 week period of time was almost unbearable. Helping my children to cope with the loss of someone they love so much is heartbreaking.

Through the weeks leading up to all of this, my children were rarely seeing me. I spent almost all of my time at my dad’s bedside. My husband, although incredibly supportive, was beginning to show symptoms of exhaustion and resentment for my absenteeism in our family life. I had somewhat disappeared from the home while trying to manage my busiest work season, and my need to be with my dad as much as humanly possible. Things at home weren’t great. I began to wonder whether my husband would forgive me for being away so much, whether he would still love me after this season had passed. Of course he did/does, but everything, every emotion just seemed to be amplified for a period of time. This has certainly been one of the darkest times of my life. So many nights I spent sobbing myself to sleep, almost choking on my own breath as I wept, and then come the morning I would pull my puffy eyes out of bed and just keep going. I would paste that smile back on my face and get myself out the door to do it all over again. Can I just put it out there and say that those months flat out sucked?!!!

At times this holiday season seems almost too difficult to endure. Yet, I will keep moving forward. I want to live well. I want to heal. I want to celebrate my father’s memory by celebrating his favourite time of year. I need to acknowledge the loss I’ve had in my life, but I also want to honour all the good that I have been given.

I have the great privilege of doing something I love and being invited into people’s most intimate moments. This has definitely helped to pull me through. I’ve built genuine relationships with so many people through this job of mine. I’ve received countless cards and flowers from clients, meals delivered to my home, endless hugs and meaningful messages from people that I barely know. I’m assured that there is so much love and support out there. I’ve been so blessed to be able to celebrate in my youngest sister’s wedding a few weeks ago. A beautiful, and happy celebration of love has been such a gift for all of us to focus on.

I know it’s been quiet around here. I stopped recording my live videos, I struggled to get blog posts up at all, I rarely post on social media anymore, and all the goals I had planned on accomplishing this year just seemed to go by the wayside. I’ve gone through moments of despair, times of hopelessness, and have questioned so much. I want to sincerely thank all of my clients this year (you know who you are) for being so VERY patient and understanding over this 2017 Summer/Fall. I know that I’ve missed an email or Facebook message here and there, and my response times haven’t been to my own standards many times, but the people I’ve worked with this 2017 season have made the hardest year of my life so much more manageable.

My hope is to keep moving forward with the plans & initiatives I set for myself earlier this year. I’m doing my very best to get back on track with these. Living under water (at least that’s how it’s felt) certainly brings productivity levels down a bit. I have to be honest and admit that I still feel broken even now. I’ve been numbing myself from the pain in my heart, but as this year comes to a close and my busy season tapers off, I’m confronted with all the emotions I’ve been pushing aside for months. I’m still grieving the loss of my Dad. I miss him so much every day. I keep waiting for him to walk through the door, or pick up the phone when I call. I know it’s crazy, but I still just don’t believe it can be real.

Focusing forward, I know I need to start setting goals again. 2018 will be a year of healing and growing. I have many ideas and initiatives I’d like to spearhead in the coming year. Not only professionally, but personally as well. Thank you for sticking with me through this friends, and for not giving up on me. Thank you for being supportive and for loving me through it. I know I am blessed for every one of you. I hope you have a Christmas season filled with love and joy, and that you are able to make intentional and beautiful memories that you can cherish and celebrate in the years ahead. Love you all.

Jillian : 16:01 December 11, 2017
Thank you for Sharing your story. I just read this post as I sit bedside with my Father who is dying of Lung cancer. He was diagnosed August 2nd and today we are in the palliative unit of Credit Valley hospital soaking in every last breath. Christmas is around the corner and I feel completely empty. But everyday I wake up and keep going for my kids. My mother. And my Father until the end. Strength to you. I know how much it’s needed. xo
Kathryn : 16:55 December 11, 2017
Oh my - reading your story brought me right back to my own season of living under water. Like you, my Dad passed in the fall (September 27) and like you, I was anguished during the season that I loved and anticipated. I was 16 - funny how that ache can rise up again these 35 years later. One thing I can absolutely promise you - one day, not long from now, you will remember with a smile instead of a tear. The ache will linger, but the love will surpass. To everything, there is a season, even for grief - allow yourself to grieve the loss especially at this most blessed of times, safe in the knowledge that your memories will become like warm blankets on those dark and cold nights. You father sounds a wonderful man - and I am certain the memories that he left for you will sustain you. Many blessings to you, sweet lady. And thank you - for reminding us of the goodness of humans all around us.
Dianne : 21:38 December 11, 2017
Let the love and peace of the season wash over you- I lost my Father 4 years ago to,cancer and I still carry him with me everywhere I am-- you don't stop loving just because someone stops living. Take your time and be kind to yourself.Pass through the grief-- don't get stuck in it. Find your way back to happiness and love those that help you walk the path. ??
Katie : 22:44 December 11, 2017
Reading this makes my heart hurt so badly for you and your family. Just remember that you had your dad with you for your whole life - it is going to take a long time to adjust to life without him here, and also to deal with the horrible sights you must have seen. It has only been 2 months, and you lost 2 people in that time. Cut yourself some slack and be proud of the things you have been doing because even getting out of bed is an accomplishment during times like these. I remember reading this shortly after my mom passed and I still feel that it is true and gives some hope that things will be more manageable in the future. Maybe it will bring you some comfort
Lorraine : 23:55 December 12, 2017
Andrea, it has been a long time since we’ve seen each other but I feel a closeness to you, having read your story. 25 years ago I was celebrating my last Christmas with my Dad, having no idea at the time the impact this would have on the rest of my life. I still feel the pain, especially at Christmas. The one thing you have is that your children got to meet and love him, and he met and appreciated your relationship with Chad. I have lived longer without my Dad than with him, but I miss him every day and know he is watching over me. Sending much love to you, Lorraine
Andrea : 21:53 December 31, 2017
Thanks so much for sharing Lorraine. It's honestly so comforting to know that others out there understand. You are so right... I do have many memories to be thankful for! Thanks for reaching out and sharing friend??. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season this year.
Andrea : 21:55 December 31, 2017
Thanks so much Katie. I will definitely read this. I really appreciate you taking the time to reach out??.
Andrea : 21:57 December 31, 2017
Oh... I'm so sorry you are going through this as well Jillian. It's an incredibly emotional journey. Sending so much love to you??.
Andrea : 21:59 December 31, 2017
Thanks Dianne. Amazing, encouraging words. Thank you for reaching out.
Andrea : 22:03 December 31, 2017
Thank you Kathryn. Your words bring so much comfort. I know that things will get easier. I'm so encouraged by your story:). Thank you for sharing. Im blessed to have the memories and the gift of knowing we Wilma be with him again one day. Thank you so much for reaching out:).

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