This week’s Remember the Time theme is last days. We’ve intentionally made this prompt really broad because we don’t want to hem you in to talking about an incident we specify. In fact, we always want you to take liberties with these prompts! They are never hard and fast. Interpret them as you will; we love seeing how they can be explored.
I want to send a special thank-you to Dawn from Tales From the Motherland. She is substitute co-hosting this week for Kelly, and I am thrilled to have her as a RTT pinch hitter. Be sure to pop by her blog and give her some love. That will be extremely easy to do, as she is a wonderful, rich writer and a lovely person to boot. Thanks, Dawn!
This is the first blog post that I ever completely deleted.
I started out wanting to write about my last day in Korea. 660 words in, and I couldn’t tease out anything good. I talked about everything but Korea. The Simpsons, Aziz Ansari, memories, and pregnancy days. I think Kanye West even worked in a mention in those 660 words. But they were sprawling and unwieldy. My mind was caving in on itself. I kept telling myself to get on with it. What’s the point? Get to it!, I told myself.
There was an elephant in the room.
So I deleted those words. And now I find myself oddly ready to talk about a last day that I always said I wouldn’t blog about because it seems to deserve more than I can give it here. It deserves to be in a book somewhere or a special, private place that smells like a pine forest and your grandmother’s house.
Do you believe that, that a blog isn’t reverent enough?
My dad died at the end of the summer. It was hot in Memphis but I don’t need to tell you that. That day I had been sitting on my parents’ patio all morning with 30 SPF sunblock on and Medieval In LA by my side, never getting past page 40 because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I think I wore a halter top and sunglasses, which is funny because at that time I hadn’t read Lolita yet.
My dad called that morning to say hello from Canada. He and my brother had been there for two weeks on a Boy Scout trip, exploring the Northern Tier. He called and talked to my mom and she offered the phone to me but I didn’t take it because…I don’t know. Maybe I had to go to the bathroom? Maybe I just didn’t care? I couldn’t have known, but that doesn’t make it easier. That actually makes it worse. I didn’t know. With births you have an idea about when they’re going to happen. Death isn’t so gracious. You can’t plan for it.
I went to work at the Gap that afternoon. I worked a short shift, 3 to 8. This was my second job that summer. I had started the summer working at Hobby Lobby, but after only being there for a month, the Gap called about a job I had applied for at the beginning of my summer job application blitz and I obviously took it and quit Hobby Lobby because I had already acquired a boyfriend at Hobby Lobby and why would I stay if I could get 50% off on jeans?
That day at the Gap I wore khakis and a sleeveless top and a headset that the Gap provided. Pro-fess-ion-al. I greeted some people and folded some jeans. I don’t know why I remember this.
I drove my brown Mercedes home from the Gap and when I got there I noticed that there were many cars parked in the street in front of my parents’ home. It’s so funny where your mind goes. When I saw the cars I thought my dad and my brother had come home early as a surprise and that everyone was celebrating. My mind went to a place of surprises and fun.
Before I had even pulled all the way into the driveway I could see my mom and my aunt. They walked to the car and I could see several members of our church too. All I heard was
The word dead was not spoken but it filled my brain, literally taking every spare corner and rudely shoving everything else out if its way. Dead was in big white all-caps block letters and it pulsed through my veins and belittled and bullied everything that wasn’t Dead. Dead was like a drug, and in that moment in the driveway I was under its influence. I immediately wanted to barf.
Instead I cried.
I think I cried for about five hours that felt like 10 minutes. I fell asleep later that night in my mom’s bed and could not believe I had spent the day sunbathing halfheartedly and folding jeans.
Does this day deserve more than a blog post? Probably. It is too big and sacred and private. It is part of my story. It was a day that each member of my family interprets in different ways because of the roles that my father played in their lives. Are these things too big for a blog? Maybe.
It just seems oddly fitting that the day I spent sunbathing and working at the Gap should be the day that my life changed forever. So maybe, a blog is the perfect place for this story.
Link up with us! Here’s how to do it:
1. Write your post. Remember, it can be ANYTHING about last days. Just try to stick with the whole “back in the day” vibe ;D
2. Grab the badge and place it at the bottom of your post.
3. Add your link below and come back to see all the other great posts your blogging pals have written! Comment on them and tweet and share your favorites using the hashtag #RTTbloghop. The link-up closes at midnight EST next Wednesday, so get your link in before then.
I don’t think there’s anything too reverent for a blog, it is writing and baring our hearts and souls some times. From my perspective as I sit here with tears in my eyes, you treated this with honor. I lost my brother when he was 18, and we did know that death was coming. My whole family was able to be there. I have always thought that the unexpected loss has a whole other level of cruelty. I am so sorry you went through this, I hope that writing about it is helpful in some way, I know for me it has been my therapy. This was beautiful….
Thanks, Gretchen. Writing about these things always lessens the load a little. Well, maybe “lessens” isn’t the best word to use; I don’t think the pain ever goes away, but writing about these events – even on a platform as transient as a blog – definitely makes me know that pain better. It gives me some control over it. Thanks you for reading. I’m still feeling kind of weird about this post and your words are really encouraging.
Where better to share your stories than here with us perfect strangers? Since I don’t know you from Adam, I hugged the smelly lady on the bus next to me believing it was you while saying, “thank you for sharing your sad story. ” Death is most unfair when it comes with no warning or notice to friends and family to make sure that the person who died got to know exactly how much we love/value them. I’m sorry this happened to you with your dad. As a dad to a daughter, this punches my gut real good.
Hugging the smelly lady is EXACTLY what you should do! That’s the kind of pay-it-forwardness that I love. BTW, it wasn’t me, but I accept the hug on her behalf ;D Thanks, Don.
I figured it wasn’t. She wasn’t wearing anything red and when I asked her about her favorite part about Korea she responded, “My cat’s name is Sparkles.” Oy….
Is there a word limit? And am I allowed to link up a post I wrote 2 days ago?
No word limits, no time constraints. Just as long as it goes with the theme, you’re in! Please link up with us! We’d love to have you!
Oh my sweet Emily. I have never heard the story of the day your Dad died. The story is too big for our hearts but it there nonetheless, right on top of our hearts.
That’s a beautiful way of putting it.
Thanks for sharing your story. It is a very profound one and makes me reflect on grief in a bunch of different ways. You have a way with words that touches peoples hearts and that’s important…and not ‘too big’ for this blog at all.
Thank you, Holli. Sometimes I get really apprehensive about what I share here, and I felt like this story kind of crossed the line that I drew for myself at some point. But I’m glad I wrote it. It’s a good step in understanding that event and the feelings I associate with it a little more.
Wow, Emily. Can you see what is happening here? Every time you push yourself up another one of those steep steps—those harder spots on your writing journey—you shorten the distance between you and your professional writing career. This post was brilliant. It was right that you waited for your skill level to be strong enough to tackle this. You are now able to neatly whittle just the right edges off of a big story and make it fit perfectly in a small space. You might not have been able to do that a year ago. You make me laugh and you make me cry and you continue to inspire me. Thank you for pushing forward, I needed this today!
As always, Willow, your words are a huge encouragement to me and I’m so grateful for you and them. This was a hard post to write; I’m still feeling weird about it. I feel like I’ve exposed something that is a little too fragile. But I’m glad I did it. I think this is how we start to overcome fear.
Nothing is too big for a blog, not the way you write it, Emily. My heart just broke open and I’m sitting here trying to type the words I don’t have through eyes bleeding tears so I cannot see anyway. So I hope they’re the right ones to convey what I want to to you.
Thank you, sweet lady. You are so kind. Love back.
I agree with the general consensus that nothing’s too big (or too small) for a blog. I sometimes think it’s the big, obtuse, uncomfortable things we should write about the most, because they’re probably what most needs to be read. I think talking about it, even on a blog post, helps us take ownership of it.
I’m beginning to believe that too. Sometimes when I blog, I go through periods where I feel like everything I dump here is frivolous and afterthoughtish, like I didn’t have time to give it the full treatment so I just wrote a draft and put it up. I guess that kind of thinking doesn’t serve me very well when I have the need to write something serious and emotional.
thank you Emily
Ahh Em that’s so hard. But yeah, I agree that blogs are weird in that way. So different from a journal entry or a chapter in a memoir. But it’s great that you were able to share this snippet from your life. I feel like I know that much more about you and I think that’s what blog friendships are all about–sharing the good times as well as the bad.
Lot’s o love!
Thanks, Lils! I struggle a lot with tone here. I feel like sometimes I’m really silly and sarcastic and flip, but then I’ll drop a super serious bomb occasionally and it kind of makes me feel like I’m betraying a unified image of myself. I’ve heard a lot of people who blog say that they also have a difficult time deciding what side of themselves they want to show on their blogs. Ahhh, First World problems ;D I’m glad you’ve stuck around though; it’s good to know that you like what I’m writing and you’re still my Internet friend. I’ve been doing this so long that I know a lot of people who used to be my “friends” really aren’t
Aww yeah of course! I think blogging in general is hard because even though you’re mainly doing it for yourself, you don’t want to offend anyone or come off as a certain way. You want people to know the true you. I know the true you and I think you’re pretty great! I have lots of love for you Ems! Of course I would stick with you. (I’ve also become wayy more toned down and serious on my blog compared to older posts. ughh)
Thank you for sharing this, Emily. “With births you have an idea about when they’re going to happen. Death isn’t so gracious. You can’t plan for it.” That is so true. There are many times I wish I could go back in time and take the phone call. Sigh.
Thank you for reading, Allison! The good thing that happened from this post is that my mom read it and called me to remind me that it’s OK to have regrets about not picking up the phone, but that it’s also OK to forgive ourselves for not knowing to answer. So much truth.
I’m so sorry, Em. I don’t know what to say I’ll just give you a virtual hug. (hug)
Thanks, TD. Hugs are always awesome ;D
Oh Emily – my heart is breaking. You are so right – we just don’t know – it’s only in retrospect that we start to kick ourselves for being human. Don’t – it’s the love you have that counts – and it’s not lacking.
Awwww, thanks Denise. I’ve played a few rounds of Shoula Coulda Woulda, but it’s not something I can maintain. It does, however, haunt me a lot.
[…] step in as the co-host. I know she will take good care of my blog hoppers along with Miss Emily at The Waiting, and they both have stellar posts about this week’s theme over at their blogs, ready for you […]
“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Today you gave sorrow words. And I get the feeling there is still a lot of sorrow over your Father’s loss that requires more words than you’ve given today. But you did this. And eventually you will do that too. And we’ll be here for you then, as we are now. I’m so proud of you for writing this post.
Absolutely. Grief is a process, and even years and years into it I’m still working through it. It’s always going to take courage to talk about that loss because I really want to leave it behind, but I feel fuller when I face that day and try to understand it. Thank you so much for your kind words.
Having just lost my dad, I’m kind of at a loss for words, but I usually comment, so I’ll just say, beautiful.
Thank you. Losing a parent is such a huge experience, emotion-laden and hard.
Emily, I am so sorry about your Dad’s passing. It caught my breath to think of something so sudden happening so close; living through it is an entirely different matter. I know putting this stuff out there is difficult and you can never be sure that you have made the right decision, but you did this beautifully. Trust your audience to treat it with reverence, because that is what you cultivate here.
I am really gobsmacked by the amount of love and support I’m receiving in the comments of this post, you included. Thank you so much for reading and recognizing that this is obviously a big post for me, and for treating it with that reverence. I am so lucky to be surrounded by wonderful blogging friends.
Can you hear me sniffling over here, and pulling a kleenex from the box? My heart is breaking for you, all the while I’m thinking, “Damn. What a beautifully raw post.” There will always be things too big for a blog by the simple reason that they are just too big for anything. But sharing a piece of them, especially in the way you did, pays respect to them. Exposing moments of fragility give people the opportunity to express support that help to strengthen those fragile spots. We have all had moments where the bottom drops out from below us at the most unexpected time. And sometimes trying to encapsulate those moments in a blog, or whatever, gives us the means to release a little grief, release a little pain, make a little sense of things, forgive ourselves for things we couldn’t possibly have known. Sometimes things need to put outside of our heads and molded into words on paper or screen, so our eyes can actually see them, so they can seem more tangible. Because it’s easier to deal with tangible things, even if it’s only for a moment.
Sending hugs to you today.
Wonderfully said. It IS easier to deal with tangible things. I didn’t process things enough when I was initially grieving over his death, and for the first few years, instead of confronting the pain I felt I dove into school and used it as my excuse to shelve the very laborious process of sadness and grief. And during those years, I left a lot of things unspoken and they probably became bigger and scarier than they really were. It’s only been in the last three or so years that I have started working through some of these dense, burdensome feelings. In that process, I am making things more tangible. It’s a good feeling. It’s hard, but it’s good.
And THIS is why I have chosen your RTT blog to share my stories! I am not going to waste my time bitching about the price I just paid for laundry detergent or why my favorite person just got kicked off of DWTS. I want honesty and I want memories. So open up and I will do the same. I’ve not written this one yet, but the day my step-father died, (I should probably one day just call him my dad), I was vacationing in Florida. We had already said our goodbye’s but it doesn’t make it any easier, 20 years almost and counting……when we’re fortunate enough to have someone in our lives that we love and are special to us, we should all celebrate and be thankful….ultimately rejoice that he was there for us when it mattered most. Thanks for sharing Em
Thank you so much for your kind words, Rob. As you might imagine I felt quite apprehensive about sharing this story as a part of a blogging event. Heck, I felt apprehensive about sharing it at all, considering that a lot of my family reads my blog and I don’t want them to feel like I’m exposing a private part of our family history to strangers. But I think it’s been a good decision to share it here because we could all use a little honesty. Thank you, as always, for reading.
Emily, you let this post fit into your blog just fine. Whatever you left out (as words) stays in your heart. It is the fact that it is so universal that also makes it so personal. Thank you for sharing. Sorry for your loss. xx
Thank you, Tania. I’m glad I wrote about this. It was obviously a hard piece to write, but I can definitely say that getting it out into the open has helped me achieve a bit more closure.
I think we all have stories that are hard to put out there. I also think those are the ones others can so relate to. Thanks for sharing a difficult time. And so sorry about your dad.
Thank you! A few days after writing this, I am glad that I got it out. It won’t be the last time I write about it, but it was a good start.
It’s brave blog post but I think you are lucky enough to have readers that will handle your words and memories with care! thank you sharing this. And I’m sorry for your loss.
I agree, Stephanie! The people who read my blog are the best, kindest people in Internetland. I am always so grateful that I really don’t have anything to fear when I write deeply personal things like this.
Emily, this deeply personal and profoundly painful event in your life would be way too big for my goofball brand of blogging, but your site is intimate and your posts have a lyrical quality. You also know how to share through your stories emotions that are familiar to your followers. If your dad could read this piece, I am sure he would be proud to have fathered a daughter who is such a talented writer.
Thanks, V. A few days after writing this post, I’m glad I put it out there. It was really cathartic and it helped me give the emotions I have tied to that day a more tangible, manageable quality.
I woke up this morning and this was the first thing I read. I’ve been thinking about it all day. I guess because there are lots of things we all hold inside us that are too big for blogging, but really, it is super brave of you to right something so personal and let all of us in. :) And, this topic was hard for me. I wrote one that I’m going to link up here in a minute, but it is not so much back in the day….although I reminisce a little. So, hopefully that’s ok. Loved this post. :)
Thanks, Meredith! I loved your post, and I’m so glad you linked it up ;D
Love that you started something else and then knew it was all wrong. Without a doubt, this was definitely what was meant to be said. Love it so much. Made me tear up a bit… but that might be the sleep deprivation.
The sleep deprivation will be the end of us all. Today I was watching Curious George with my daughter and just when I dozed off for a moment, she decided that she no longer liked Curious George and would prefer to remove every condiment from the refrigerator. Sigh.
Emily…oh wow. Beautiful, tough post. Thank you for sharing it. I’m wordless and teary.
Thank you for reading it, Rachelle!
wow. I think your stories belong wherever you put them, because they are yours.
Thanks for sharing this with us.
In an odd way, I want to hear more…probably because this short post was so compelling.
There will likely be more. This whole event surrounding his death was pivotal in my life, so I can’t really not-write about it.
Amazing and dear on every level. You make me love you! I am so sorry for your loss– words, of course, can not say, but they are what we have to offer. I am glad you have so many wonderful followers who are equally impressed with you. I know what you mean about feeling so exposed after sharing something so private. Do what you can to believe the love you’re reading from us. Feel loved today.
Thank you so much, Joan. I am definitely feeling the love. At some point, we will all unfortunately have to go through something like this and it’s my hope that we will all be so blessed to be loved by the people who surround us.
Perfect attitude; you are wise beyond your years.
[…] in and I’m not sure why since I am such a big admirer of hers. This week’s theme is last days and it really got me thinking so I decided to join […]
Beautiful and well-written. I agree with a fellow commenter, your writing is almost lyrical and this tribute to your Dad was lovely. And I don’t think anything is too big for a blog, not the way you write it.
Thank you so much, Rose.
This: I’m really silly and sarcastic and flip, but then I’ll drop a super serious bomb occasionally and it kind of makes me feel like I’m betraying a unified image of myself.
Emily, don’t ever think that. We’re all made up of so much and so many things … funny and serious, respect and irreverence, shallowness and depth. No matter what your FAVORITE thing to show is, people worth their salt or even semi-emotionally mature, understand that many parts make up a person and I think … I really THINK … others enjoy seeing other sides.
That’s not to say you have to show every side, but you are never “betraying a unified image of yourself”, by showing different sides of your AUTHENTIC self … if you ask me.
This post was wonderful, even though it broke my heart. I am overly aware of the possibility of regret … and knowing you’ve been living with, “why was I tanning and welcoming people to that Gap and not taking my dad’s call” for so long just breaks my heart. UGH, I’m so, so, so sorry.
Anna, thank you so much for your encouragement. I’ve been letting this post stew for a few days and trying not to think much about it because usually after I’ve written something, I can look at it more objectively after a couple days. And as I sit here three days later, I’m glad that I chose to post it here. Sure, I write about a lot of things and employ a lot of tones, but I’d be doing myself a disservice if I wrote about the color of my dishtowels at the expense of writing about these heavier, more emotion-laden topics. It’s with the harder topics that I become better at being a human. I also learn to take myself (and the people who read my blog) more seriously.
Wow. Just wow. Emily, what a raw, powerful, unexpected story. Totally unexpected. I was sure I knew what I’d find here this morning (as I read all the liked posts… cause I was at hospice training ALL day yesterday, and hosted the group for dinner last night… I know, bad host!) … I was prepared for your special brand of witty and clever, excellent writing. Instead, here is your heart, or, certainly a big piece of it. As you know, I lost my father quite young and very suddenly. It is a horrible shock. Like you, I thought all kinds of things in the minutes before I got that news… I thought exciting things too, not bad. That’s just it though, isn’t it? That moment, for each of us (probably for any kid who faces it) is the very moment that innocence died. The world is not always safe; not always kind; and your life can utterly and irrevocably change in a minute. A huge lesson, at a young age!
This is a remarkable post. So beautiful and real. Thanks so much for sharing it. You know that I certainly do not feel a blog is not the right place for this… hell, look at my posts! Thank you so much, again for putting the blog in my hands while Kelly was off. I really appreciate you both having confidence in me. ;-) xo
It is such a huge lesson to learn at such a young age! That’s why we were all so concerned for my brother; he was only about 15 at the time and he was also the only family member with my dad at the moment that he died. Definitely baptism by fire. He channeled his grief really well, but it was still an intensely difficult time for all of us.
Thank you so much for helping to host RTT this week, Dawn!
Again, it was really my pleasure… co-hosting. A fun change for me.
I wondered about your brother, as I was reading this. It must have been really tough, on so many levels. VEry traumatic.
I relate to this so much!
Your post for RTT was fantastic. We really have similar experiences.
Thank you :)
This post hits me at a raw time. My friend died suddenly earlier this week, and I’ve been living a small piece of this for the last many days. My heart is with you.
My heart is with you too. Be well, my friend.
I had a very similar experience when my mom died. I was actually going to spend a few days with her later in the week which I hadn’t in a while. The last time I talked to her on the phone I didn’t even tell her I loved her. Not because I didn’t, just because it would be repeating something I had always said. At first it was hard, but I also know she knew I did.
A friend of mine told me how his mom passed after the first vacation he took in years. Shit like this seems to come up at the worst times, when we think life may actually be good.
I hope sharing this was good for you. I know with those moments in life whenever I get them out it always helps me. It becomes less of a secret life moment I’m afraid to let out. And looking through the comments, I’m sure you understand the outpouring of love from all of your readers.
Don’t worry about this being out of style for your blog. We came for The Waiting, but we stayed for the woman who writes it.
Hot damn, Tim. Why’d you have to go and make me tear up? Thank you, my friend. I’m glad I got this one out. It probably won’t be the last time I write about it because it’s one of those moments that does me good to analyze, but this was a necessary step.
I would agree with the others that it’s not too big for a blog post, but I think I can understand that it feels like the post itself just wouldn’t do justice for the amount of emotion both during that day and now. I’m so sorry for your loss. This was a beautiful post and I really liked the perspective you showed by saying how everyone would interpret that day differently based on their own experiences with you dad.
Thanks! It’s one of those things where I doubt any platform is really big enough for it because it was such an emotional, hard time. I’m glad I wrote about it though. Writing is so wonderfully cathartic.
Wow thanks for sharing! I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write about but it was beautiful, so thank you!!
Thank you for reading, Arlene!
[…] emotional and beautiful stories. There have been a lot of great submissions this week so click on Emily’s blog to find the link-up and start reading. I may or may not have cried in the writing of this […]
[…] of you are probably already familiar with Emily over at The Waiting. Once a week, she does a blog hop. I’m not much of a hopper since I hurt my knee and all, but […]
I would really like to take part in this one, but I’m not ready either. Friday, November 30, 2013 was a “last day” for me, but right now it’s too close, too real, and too unfinished for me to share. Reading your words helped me, though. Thanks for sharing such a difficult time. Even though I can’t tell you my story, yet, I get it.
[…] saw that my friend Emily over at The Waiting had added a new writing challenge to her series “Remember the Time Blog Hop” which I had missed due to my trip home. The theme was ‘last days’. It was a […]
I managed to write it … even if it wasn’t in time for the blog roll. Thanks, Em! http://judahfirst.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/words-fail/
[…] was in response to the Remember the Time challenge/series initiated by fellow-blogger Emily, here. My first, gut response when I read the challenge was, “Hell no.” The grief felt too sharp and […]
[…] The Year happened. The year when my grandmother, my grandfather, and my dad all died within 14 months. I was […]