While my posts and blog deal a lot with my healthy lifestyle, running and shopping for fab finds, I also wanted to make this about my day to day recount, feelings and emotions. And this post does deal with running but also about something I had to deal with today that I has taken over a year for me to do.
As posted in previous posts, I lost my father last March to alcoholism, an enlarged heart and cirrhosis of the liver. It was unexpected and it rocked my world, more than I ever imagined it could. But even though I lost one of the most influential men in my life, I didn't give up. I didn't allow the fact I lost someone so important in my life, take me down, the main thing is it made me stronger. I became a runner because of the death.
Running helps me release. It helped me become one with myself, it pushes me to my limits and allows me to just clear my head from all the drama, thoughts and white noise that goes on. Running has helped me deal with my father's death and become closer to him. Today would have been my father's 54th birthday. 54 and gone, it still is so crazy to me. I know it is just any other day, but in my family we made a big deal of birthdays. Not sure why we did, but when birthdays came around we had parties, sent cards, had cake, ice cream, and your own special dinner. Even after my parents divorced, my father and I made a big deal of birthdays and I made sure on each one of their birthdays I spent it with them. I am an only child so essentially I am all they had, and they were all I had.
My father's birthday always came around the last week of summer, the first week of school, a new beginning. That time of year was so fitting for him. Each year I felt like he really was looking for a new beginning. He was looking always for a way to start over, redo his life and redo himself. Did he always follow through, not at all, but I know he always damn well tried. Even if I lived miles and miles away, I made sure to make his day and call him. God you could hear it in his voice how happy he was to have me call him. I miss that. I miss having someone be so excited to hear my voice and to talk to me.
When my father died, my family was not prepared. He didn't have life insurance, he didn't have assets, I seriously think he had maybe 10.00 to his name. All his money went to alcohol and drugs. And his wife, my step mother I suppose, had no money saved for in case of an emergency, really what emergency did they think would happen. She was working hard and was providing for her own family whom lived far away. So when he died, we literally had nothing. We didn't know what to do as far as a funeral or memorial or what to do with his body. Those arrangements are so expensive. We held a memorial service, which was more amazing than I could ever imagined and we had him cremated.
I do not like urns. I didn't want an urn full of my father. I wanted to spread my father's ashes somewhere in Florida, where I was happy and where I know always made him happy. Sunshine, warmth and me. When he died, I spread a small amount of his ashes back home in NY, where he taught me how to swim. It was our special place and a time in my life I will never forget. Considering I was flying back to Florida after his death, I couldn't carry on his ashes with fear they thought I was bringing drugs or anthrax on the plane, so my family shipped me what I wanted.
All I wanted was a small bag that I could scatter when I was ready. I wasn't prepared for what I received. Well, instead his wife sent me a legit shoe box full of his ashes. I know this sounds insane and crazy, but it was. And to open that and see that, I literally broke down. I sat in my living room and just cried, realizing all I had left of my father was in a zip lock bag in a shoe box. It numbs you. So my body and mind went into shock mood. I took the shoe box and placed it in my room, in a corner and put it out of my mind. I just couldn't deal. I couldn't deal with the fact I might have to get an urn. I didn't want to just take the box and throw it out to the ocean like it was dirt, that's all I kept envisioning. Grief and heartache make you think of crazy things.
So for 17 months, my father lived in a box by my bed. Thank god I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world, because I seriously think it would freak anyone out. I thought about that box often, I even thought about giving in and saving ashes, but I just couldn't do it.
Today would have been his 54 birthday and I released him.
It was time. I got up this morning, early and got ready for my long run. I grabbed my box of my father and headed downtown. I knew I was ready. I am in a really good place in my life right now and I needed to move on. I needed to stop holding back. I have pictures, books, and items that remind me of my father. Those items I can feel and touch. I didn't want to constantly see him as just ashes. He is tattooed on my foot and with me everyday. I didn't need his ashes, I needed to release him and let him be free because I felt free.
I took him to where I start my long runs. Its beautiful, right on the water. He loved water. He loved being in the water, around water, everything about it. The sun wasn't up yet, I wanted him to release before the sun. I scattered his ashes with a small speech, letting him know I loved him. "Daddy, I miss you and love you. Happy Birthday, I'm sorry it has taken me so long to do this, but you're free now. I need to release you."
Not much of a speech but it was all I could choke out. After the scattering I ran. I ran hard and strong. I put on Tears In Heaven and just went. I wasn't running from my emotions, I was running to feel them. The first 3 miles, I couldn't tell if it was tears or sweat. Then my run just settled in. On my way back, I ran by a father and daughter going off to school and a brick wall hit me. I choked on my tears and my run ended. I sat over by the water and put on his favorite song, Cooperhead Road by Steve Earle and I finally released.
Its been a rough day today. I feel like I lost my father all over again. I have many breakdowns today. But it was my time and his. It was time to let him be free and for me to be free. I wanted this, I wanted to scatter his ashes where he can be free and where I can always feel his presence. Even if I don't live in Florida forever, I know he will and that makes me so happy because I know that is something he always wanted.
Happy Birthday Daddy. I think this is the best birthday gift I could ever give you.