Three years ago, on September 4th, Tom Fogarty passed away in a way I could have ever in a million years imagined. He was practicing bow hunting in the back yard, went down into the woods to retrieve a bow and was stung by several wasps. He's allergic, and it was just too much. I still don't believe it. Not a single day goes by where I don't utter the words in my head, "I don't believe it."
I try not to talk a lot about it because I don't want to bring others down, but the truth is sometimes talking about it might help someone else. You're not alone. Whatever you're going through, just know you're not alone. Maybe I'll share more here about my journey through all this, but maybe I won't. Right now though, I just want to share three things I've learned in the three years since he has passed.
1) YOU DON'T GET TROUGH GRIEF, YOU LIVE WITH IT.
I'm not over it. I'm not past it. I have tears in my eyes as I'm typing this. Grief is not something you get through. There isn't a start and end point to it. Grief is something you live with.
In the beginning, living with grief is like having the smelliest, messiest, loudest, most obnoxious roommate in your home. You always notice it, and it takes over you. No matter what you try to do, it feels like you can't escape the grief.
Then, that roommate starts to take a shower, they start to pick up after themselves, and they get a little quieter. But, they still do things to make sure you continue to notice their presence. They're just someone you can't ignore, and you can't kick them out either.
Someone once explained grief as going under a wave. At first the waves are huge and take all your breath away. Then, eventually the waves get a little smaller and learn to swim through them, but the waves are still there. Every single day I am hit by a wave, even three years later.
Ways that help me live with the grief is to talk about him, to say his name, and to laugh about the memories we have. I still try to think to myself, "what would Dad do/say/think?" when trying to make a decision. To keep him alive in our day to day life is a way I am able to live with the grief. I pray too. He's our guardian angel and I pray to him to watch over us. I also know I'll see him again. Faith and belief in Heaven is sometimes the only way to lift your chin back up in those waves.
Nothing ever prepares you for the loss of a loved one, especially a loss so unexpected but I have learned that you can survive it, you can grow through it, and you can even flourish through it. But my goodness... you don't ever get over it.
2) I THOUGHT HAVING A BABY WOULD MAKE MISSING MY DAD EASIER, BUT IT HAS DONE THE OPPOSITE.
It hit me on the day Everett was born. When my mom was there, all I wanted was by Dad to be there too. I wanted my Dad to see this amazing little human that joined our family. The worst part was when my Mom left the hospital. She went home without someone to share her pride and excitement with who would be just as excited and happy as she was. In this happiest moment of my life, it also felt like one of the saddest.
I thought having a baby would keep me too busy and too distracted to miss my dad. In a way, I think I was hoping that would happen. But, the truth is, it makes me miss him more. Oh, how he would get a kick out of our little man... I know they would be two peas in a pod. He's just as big of a goofball as his Grandpa.
Adding this new member to our family didn't fill part of the void of missing someone we love. It actually feels like it made the void bigger, because becoming a mom has made my heart grow exponentially. Adding more to the "Fogarty Crew" doesn't make his seat at the table smaller, it makes it more noticeable.
Since he's passed, our family has experienced a lot of things that make us all missing more than ever. He would be so proud. Two new babies, a wedding, two high-school graduations, job changes and so many other day to day things he would be encouraging us through.
3) WHAT YOU SAY AND DO MATTERS-- YOU LEAVE AN IMPACT
I catch myself saying things my Dad would say. One of my favorites is when my ears perked up at something he said while watching the Vikings get beat. The refs were always and easy target. "Those flag-happy bastards!"
I also catch myself making up things I'm pretty sure my Dad would say. I hear stories of people sharing memories of my Dad, and I realize I'm not the only one missing him. I realize his impact was far larger than the walls of our home growing up, the bonds of our family, or the ties to our friends... his impact has a ripple effect.
That's nice to think about, but also a brings with it a weight of responsibility. What you do matters. You leave an impact on the lives you touch. I try to keep that lesson in mind, and try to carry through the impact my Dad has made of the lives of others.
-- Act like you know the person when you see them... and be really excited to say hi (even if you don't know their name).
-- Give a person the time of day to talk to you. We all just want someone to listen to us.
-- Don't worry about the mess.
-- Let your creative spirit out, and do the things that bring you joy.
-- Give gifts that are made with your own hands, they show the greatest love.
-- Say yes if someone wants to do something fun with you. Stop with all the serious and take time for fun.
-- Get to know people, and do a favor without any strings attached.
-- Ask questions. Be curious about the person you're talking to.
-- Make jokes even if they aren't that funny. At least you get a kick of out it!
-- No one can do it the way you can, and there is no one else quite like you.
-- Don't be lazy. If you're going to do it, do it right.
-- Love your family most.