The penny collector…..a year has passed

Good Morning, Dad….

It’s the one year mark today.  I can’t believe it’s been a year.  And I can’t believe I haven’t written in five months. I have so much to share with you.  But first, let me just tell you how much I miss you.  How not a day goes by that I don’t tell someone about you.  How I STILL pick up the phone to call you.  How much I miss your laugh.  How much I miss hearing about how many reps you did at the gym.  How much I miss having you as my cheerleader.  I miss all of those things.  Every Single Day.

And in the same breath as missing you (mainly because I don’t think I really take a breath without missing you), I think of all the things that have gone on in this past year, and I smile about so much.  Just as you would have wanted.

BUT FIRST, a story about the day after you died……

The day after you died, Danny and I were sorting through some of your things and found ourselves in the basement looking through boxes of paperwork (I’m not sure why you had check registers from 1979, btw,but you did).  As we moved all those boxes, we found more boxes behind them.  Inside of those hidden boxes were pennies.  We all knew you had a large penny collection.  But really, a large penny collection can mean so many things.  As it turns out, your collection was OUTRAGEOUS! You had 600,000 pennies, dad.  SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND. I mean, seriously.  That’s crazy. We knew those pennies couldn’t stick around any longer.  They had to go to the bank. Danny and I joked this was your last word about exercise to us. “Oh, here you go, kids……time to carry 3 TONS of pennies upstairs and to the car.  And then carry them again into the bank. Oh, and while you’re at it, you’ll have to unroll them all, because the bank doesn’t take rolled coins anymore.”  So Danny and I (mostly Danny) carried the pennies upstairs and to the car (we took four separate trips to many banks).  We didn’t realize the fact we had to unroll the pennies until we got to the bank.  So we stood at the change machine and set up shop.  We broke open the pennies into big containers and then dumped them into the machine.  Over and over and over again.  Until we broke the machine.  And then we went to a different bank.  Until we broke that machine.  And then we ended up at a bank in Alabama.  Where we broke that machine.  And then back to the original bank, because they fixed their machine.  And then we broke that one.  It was insane.  But all the while, YOU continued to connect with people.  Everyone was curious about our penny collection.  And so we told them about you.  And they walked away with the biggest smile on their faces.  And I gave little collections to kids that came in the bank.  When we broke the change machine at your home bank for the last time, I gave your favorite banker one of your lucky pennies to remember you by.  She loved you.  And me giving her that penny will come back around to more recent days (that’s foreshadowing, which Danny says I’m not very good at).  But really, the story of the penny I gave to the teller will become a story later in this letter to you.  Before I get to all that, let me just say that depositing 6K in pennies is a wild journey.  One of the best parts is that the change machine spit out the wheat back pennies, and those were always your favorites.  And mine, too.  So we’ve been able to share those wheat backs with your friends and family.  I even got a tattoo of one.  In your memory.  Every time I pick up my guitar to play, that penny is looking right at me, and I love it.  You’re with me.  Always.

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photo by Neilson Hubbard

Okay, back to present day……We’re having a baby

We’re pregnant, dad!  26 weeks and 1 day to be exact.  I want to tell you the story of all the fertility stuff in a letter one day, but it’s so long and involved, I can’t get into now.  I can’t believe this kid doesn’t get to meet you.  I can’t believe you don’t get to meet this kid.  I’ve been trying to wrap my head around that for months now.  There’s no wrapping my head around it though.  You’re going to be an amazing story to this child.  In the meantime, here’s a photo of all the medicine I took to have this baby.  OMG.

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Here’s all the medicine we injected into my little body to have this baby!

On making a new record….

I had anxiety about the one year anniversary of your dying.  I didn’t know what that day would look like.  So I decided to record a new album, and we’re smack dab in the middle of the recording process today.  I feel so close to you.  It’s a pretty confessional record.  In the vain of this blog, actually.  (you inspired me to do that, by the way).  I’ve never been so excited about a project.  You know why?  Because I have a producer that is rocking my world.  And I have musicians I’m meeting for the first time that are totally getting what this project means to me, and they’re playing their asses off.  And, most importantly, I have you with me.  Literally.  I have a little altar set up with your ashes and photos and a candle.  And I have this tattoo.  And the songs.  It’s not a hit record, by all means.  It’s beautiful though.  Raw.  I can’t wait to share it with you.  It’s for you, dad.  It’s for the rest of the world, too.  Because I think the rest of the world can connect with these songs in some way.  Thank you for inspiring me, dad. You’ve made me a more connected and thoughtful musician.

And isn’t it cool the way the life cycle is working?  I’m here making this new thing with a baby in the belly and you’re in this jar next to my work station.  The cycle of life.  It really is beautiful.

And so today I’m going to record with the amazing band I’m working with.  I’m probably going to laugh a lot.  And cry a bunch, too.

And back to the penny I gave your favorite banker……

Once your taxes and all that fun stuff were completed, it was time to distribute the money from your bank accounts as the final thing on your “to do” list.  So I wrote the checks from the account and distributed them to the family.  Although it wasn’t all that much money, it was still significant.  So I wrote the checks and everything was fine until I received notice of bouncing one of the checks.  I was STRESSED, because I had worked so hard to do everything correctly.  Lo and behold, the statement said we were one cent short in your account.  ONCE CENT.  ONE PENNY.  I laughed so hard.  So I called the bank and spoke with your favorite teller.  She remembered me giving her a lucky penny and immediately deposited it into your account.  And so it goes.  You continue to be helpful and make people laugh.

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Okay, it’s time to get to work in the studio.  Dad, I love you and miss you.  I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  I feel you with me now more than ever. I cannot thank you enough for being the brightest shining star….

I love you.

c.

Here’s some of the photos from your final days that still help me heal from all of this……

 

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JOY

Good morning, dad!

I woke up this morning, and before opening my eyes all the way, opened a book of Mary Oliver’s poetry.  She reminds me of the miracle of all that is life.  Of all that is present in my world….whether it’s dead or alive.  And then I put the book down and look at the view from my bed and I see the mountains and tattered prayer flags and snow and sage brush.  I am myself for the first time in eight months.  I sleep again.  I’m in Taos. You know how much I love it here.

So I woke up and read Mary Oliver and had a spectacular view of the mountains and prayer flags, and got out of bed and put the kettle on for tea.  It’s early.  Lucy is with me, and she’s frolicking in the snow.  I think she feels like herself for the first time in eight months, too.  Daily walks into the hills across the street from where I’m staying.  And just being with me.  She’s happy. And there’s nothing like being with a happy dog.

I’m spending three weeks here.  It’s a solo writers retreat. I’m surrounded by beauty.  My best friend and her husband live in the main house and I have a little apartment just next door.  The light is beautiful.  And when the sun starts on it’s way down, the glow on the mountains makes my heart jump.  And then it’s night time.  And the stars are unbelievable.  There’s no light pollution here.  Just stars. And the howling of the animals of the night.  And I go to sleep early.

I spend my days writing.  Mostly working on songs, but the occasional journal entry, too.  I’ve spent very little time on business stuff. Keeping my brain clear for the writing I want to do.  For the longest time, I’ve felt bad for not having new material.  I mean, it’s been years.  But now, I just remember who I am.  I’m pretty slow when it comes to writing songs.  I’m not one of those people that can wake up in the middle of a tour and whip out a song.  I’m not inspired on the road.  I’m tired and disconnected on the road.  Except during the actual show, when I come alive for a few hours.  But then the anxiety creeps in.  And I have to face the people.  It is my choice to put myself out there to the world.  To be vulnerable.  It’s who I am.  But with that comes a lot of chatting after a show, and while I so rarely feel anything but love toward people at any particular moment, it’s the end of the night, after talking with 5o or more people, that I feel like there’s nothing left to give.  I have nothing left for myself.  So I sit up in bed, anxious and missing home. It’s just the way the road is.  I think a lot of musicians feel it.  I think a lot of musicians probably don’t.  I also think it’s important to pay attention to this stuff and make life decisions based on how we spend the majority of our time.  This brings me to my next point….

Dad, I’ve decided, after April, to take most of 2016 off from the road.  I want to create and connect with home.  I want to have a garden and I want to sew and make my own dresses and have time with Miss Lucy into her old age.  I want to be more relaxed about all our fertility stuff.  I want to have a home life with Danny. I want to have quality time with people.  Not panicked time.  I want to ease back into my relationships and not feel like I’m rushed to see everyone at a particular time while I’m home.  I just want to be home.  And I want my friends to know I’m home.  So I can be helpful in their lives. I want to volunteer at hospice.  I want to take care of my body and eat food that I make for myself.  And sometimes, I want to sit on the couch and watch romantic comedies all day long.  And I want to record a new album.  I’m so excited to release new work to the world come 2017.

My heart is so open right now and I am full of joy.   When I’m in Taos, I’m taken back to when I was 25.  SO FREE! (and so broke).   But reminded of how lucky I am to have experienced such a strangely beautiful place for a few years.  And now I come back and feel grounded and inspired.  My friends here have made beautiful lives for themselves.  I’m in awe of the quality of their existence.  They chose to push through here.  To be survivalists until they became settled.  And then they became home owners and found partners and many of them had children and those children are the most adventurous kids I’ve ever met.  They spend their lives on the river and on skis and in the woods hunting rattle snakes, and camping and hiking.  They spend their lives like their parents do.  With a true connection to this earth.  It’s just what Mary Oliver talks about in her poems.  It fills me with gratitude and makes me thankful for everything I have been given in this life.  I’m so glad you were my dad.  I believe you looked at the world through miracle glasses.  And while a day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss you so badly it hurts, there’s also not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for all the years we had together.

Tonight I will raise a glass of milk to you.  Because that’s what we do for you.  And it makes me smile so big it hurts.

I love you, dad. And I am healing.  Thank you for teaching me about joy.

A few photos from Taos:

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On all the Firsts…….

Good Morning, Dad!

Wellll, I returned from Europe six days ago and and leaving for another tour in about an hour.  I’ve been wanting to write to you for such a long time, but things have just been too busy.  But, oh my, you have been on my mind.

You know what?  Everyone keeps telling me about how hard the “firsts” are going to be, and, well, they’re RIGHT.  SO HARD.  I celebrated my birthday, and it was absolutely bitter sweet.  I mean, Danny took me for a beautiful adventure through the countryside of England…..what’s better than that?!?!?  You know what’s better?  Having Danny take me on that adventure AND hearing your voice sing me happy birthday, and getting a card in the mail from you that I know you took hours to pick out, and telling me how proud of me you are.  I guess I realized I no longer have that person that is ridiculously proud of me!  Only dad’s can be that proud. Plus, what’s a birthday without a dad?  Still a birthday, I know.  But it’s just not the same.  Nothing is ever the same.  But I really did think of you a lot.  And cried a lot.  And just let myself feel a little shitty, while at the same time laughing and celebrating with Danny.  It was a great day, and to be honest, it feels good to get these “firsts” over with.  Here’s a picture of how excited I was to visit this awesome castle:

Carrie on her birthday!
Carrie on her birthday!

And then there was yesterday.  Our one year wedding anniversary.  Let me just say, it was a fantastic day.  We had beautiful community time with our most amazing friends, went swimming, ate green chile stew and a bunch of other celebratory food, etc…On a side note, did you hear me?  We’ve been married ONE YEAR!!!!  In celebration of our paper anniversary, Danny and I attempted to make each other origami figures and failed at it, and then opened the special wedding box.  This box consists of a bunch of pieces of paper with everyone’s name that attended our special day.  Along with their name, it said how that person knows us.  All of those pieces of paper were strung up around our Huppah.  It brought such a sense of connectedness to our wedding day.  So we took all those papers down and put them in a box to open on our anniversary.  That’s what we did last night.  And it was AMAZING!  We loved it.  And then I got to the card that said,”Rich Elkin. Carrie’s Dad.”  Oh boy, dad.  Oh boy.  It took it out of me.  I am so thankful you were with us on our wedding day.  I’m so thankful you walked me down the isle.  I’m so thankful we got to dance and laugh and be silly.

Our paper anniversary
Our paper anniversary

*ON GRIEF*

Hmmmmm…..I think I put most everything that’s been going on in the above couple paragraphs.   I’ve been thinking a lot though, about how, since you died, I am so much more aware that I’m only a visitor to this planet.  And I love that feeling, actually.  It makes me live better.  It makes me live more presently and with more awareness.  I feel more connected.  I feel a deeper sense of purpose.  AND, I’m understanding that grief doesn’t only happen when someone dies.  Grief is all around us, in all different sorts of situations, but I think we sometimes forget that.  My friend is about to have a double mastectomy and I keep thinking about the grieving involved in such a thing.  Something so personal.  Something so about being a woman.  Wow.  I mean, really.  It just gets me thinking about it all.  About the loss of  relationships, about moving, about losing a job, about all the fertility stuff……it’s just crazy to think about how resilient we all are, right?  GO US!!!!!  WE ARE SO COOL!!!!!!! (we need to remind ourselves though).  OMG, dad, did you just LOVE that pep talk?  You TOTALLY would have given the same talk to me!

*ON TOURING*

Oh man, our European tour was so beautiful.  The shows, the countryside, our time together.  Danny is a beautiful soul and he played beautiful shows and there’s no better word than beautiful to describe everything I just described.  And now I’m back to Europe with Sam Baker…..TODAY!  I’m leaving TODAY!  AND, guess what? Mom’s coming with us.  How fun is that going to be?  We’ll be in the Netherlands for one week and England for a week.  Another thing you taught me……don’t wait to do shit……just do it.  So mom’s coming. YES!

Well, this is all I have time for.  I could write to you for hours…..

I miss you, dad.  So much.  That’s all there is to it.

Here’s some awesome tour photos…..

Danny on his birthday
Danny on his birthday

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National Chicken Wing Day

Good Morning, Dad!

I had all intentions of writing yesterday, but it was national chicken wing day, and I was so busy being excited about my wing dinner, I forgot to write.  You know how much I love wings, so I’m sure you understand.

All is settling down here, dad.  I’m feeling a lot better.  I look at photos of you each night before bed, and I put a tiny bit of your ashes in a locket that I wear all the time.  It rests on my heart chakra….right where you belong.

I was sad for you to miss national chicken wing day, but I’m not sad for you to be missing most other news.  Jeeeesh.  The killing of Cecil the Lion is all I can bare.  Then add Donald Trump to it, and, well, the world feels terrible. I feel like I can write the news each day before things even happen.  Some awful shooting, some horrible presidential candidates (I won’t name them here, but really, people can fill in their own blanks.  Being that you were apolitical, I won’t get all preachy when I’m writing to you.  You heard plenty of my opinions when you were alive, and since I’m a hippy, free spirited folk singer, people probably already know which way I lean).  Any who…..the news.  You always hated the news. I know there’s probably lots of good news, too.  I wish it was talked about more.  I just don’t care what mega stars are getting divorced.  Seriously.  Who gives a shit? Tell me who’s doing good in the world. Help me do good in the world.  And on that note…..

On the Music front…..one of my main struggles since you passed is understanding sense of purpose in my musical life.  I mean seriously.  I spend most of my time on the road, away from home, away from the people I love, away from miss Lucy the dog, away from having the garden I can’t have because I’m away, away from the chickens I also can’t have because I’m away, alway from being able to help a neighbor, away from being able to volunteer…….I can go on forever.  What I do on the road seems so trivial compared to an existence I can have at home, BUHHHHT  just when I was about to throw in the towel and figure out how to be home all the time, I received the most beautiful e-mail from a woman named Paula.  I don’t know her, but she was at a show of mine this past year, and the letter she sent reminded me that music can be so healing. I don’t normally share stuff like this, because bragging isn’t my way in the world, and this feels a little like that, but for the purpose of explaining this to you, I’ll just share one little quote from her extremely thoughtful message.  She said, “So, you and your art have traveled with me from despair to tranquil happiness. Your voice – shit, your magnificent pipes, have been my soundtrack to healing. ” And just like that, I’m ready to play more shows (that barely anyone attends), because you just never know, dad.  You really never know who might be there and who might need to hear that show in that specific moment in time. Life is so awesome like that!  And although my plan is to play  less and be home more, I’m actually excited to write again and record a new album, which you would have worn out on your boom box.  You had a boom box! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I do want to thank Paula for her message.  I hope I can explain to her how much the timing of it matters in my life.  Thank you for your honesty, Paula.  And dad, you should watch over her. She’s good peeps. Oh, and I’m singing with Danny at Strange Brew in Austin this Sunday.  You never went there, but you would have liked it a lot.

On the fertility front, Danny and I are rockin’ it.  Progesterone shots in the ass that are mostly fine, but I sometimes have moments that make little to no sense at all.  Example…….I was in a very adorable little shop in Charlottesville the other day and I just looked at Danny and said, “Everything in here is so beautiful.” And I started crying.  Right in front of the pottery and the post cards.  Crying. Tears running down my face.  Danny is so cute in those moments. He makes the perfect amount of fun of me and gives me a hug and shuffles me out the door.  Dad, he’s taking real good care of me (although he’s down to the zero nicotine on his e-cig, and between that and my hormones, we’re two crazy people). BUT YAHOO FOR DANNY!  You were never addicted to anything, but let me tell you, it is nearly impossible to quit.  You’d be so proud of him.

On the crafting/home DIY front, I finished painting the little rental unit and  decoupaged the light switch covers.  I also took some photos.  See:

light switch covers
decoupaged light switch covers
Re-finished white cabinet
Re-finished white cabinet

I think that’s all for today.  Life is good.  I’m easing back into this universe at my own pace and I still have moments of such sadness, but they feel different now.  I don’t feel as panicked. And I’m sleeping a little better.  And I saw you in my dreams for the first time last night and it was awesome. Thanks for showing up.  You were always good at that.

I love you and miss you, dad.  And I’m always crying by the end of writing to you.  I hope no one ate your angel wings on National wing day…….

xo.

c.

p.s. Here’s a little photo series of you and Austin the day before you died.  This is how amazing you were (and SO FUNNY!):

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It’s been a month and I wrote you a song….

Good Morning Dad!

Well, it’s been a month since you continued on to spread beautiful energy around us.  I can feel you with me always. I sure miss you though.  And I can’t seem to talk to you without crying my eyes out.  But here I am.  Surviving.  Like I’m supposed to do.  Thanks for teaching me how to survive in this crazy world.  And really, thanks for teaching me how to survive like a CHAMP.  I mean, you don’t get all the credit…..mom gets at least 50%.  Although y’all divorced a million years ago, you know how awesome she is.  She’s been amazing through all of this (AND, she just sold her house and bought a new one and still manages to be available 24/7 for me.  GO MOM!).

I made it to the Woody Guthrie festival this past weekend and really enjoyed it, dad.  It felt impossible at first.  I think I was just overwhelmed with the LOVE from my most fantastic music community.  Thank you MUSIC COMMUNITY.  There’s no way I could do this without you.  Seriously.  I am blessed and it never goes unrecognized.  You met a whole lot of these folks, but I sure wish you could have met them all.  They are a shining light in my life.  They shine like you did…..like you do.  I wrote you a song and it was the first one I sang at the festival. I felt like throwing up when I stepped onto the stage.  I was pretty sure I would just cry out my songs.  You must’ve given me strength though, because I made it through and managed to have a good time.  You were with me, dad.  Thank you.  I made a crappy video of the song, but wanted to share it because it represents my reemergence into music again.  Playing music helped me feel human again.  So I’m back in the saddle!  Watch out world!  I’m going to write A LOT of SAD songs!

Danny and I left Okemah, OK (home town of Woody Guthrie) and hauled ass to Denver where we surprised Danny’s mom for her 70th birthday!  OMG.  It was the best.  You would have loved it, dad. To be honest, it wasn’t a surprise.  Donna already knew (but she shrieked and smiled so big it must have hurt her face).  We didn’t think she knew, but after much talking, she couldn’t keep it in any longer.  It’s a long story how she found out, but man is she sneaky.  We’ve been celebrating since Sunday!  Headed back home tomorrow to get back into our lives in Austin, but this has been a time of JOY for us.  Being with the Schmidt’s is so healing.  Please know I’m taken care of, dad.  This family has wrapped me up tight and hugged me so hard.  I’m so lucky (I’m sure I’ve said that like a million times, but it can’t be stated enough). Here’s a photo of the birthday girl and family  just before we went paddle boating on Evergreen Lake…..

donna's birthday

On the craft front, I’ve been embroidering like crazy….see…..

I am
For Telisha
do epic shit
For Annie
damn it feels good
For Jo

I’ve been thinking about volunteering for hospice, dad.  The things happening in my life seem so insignificant after spending that month with you.  I mean, I’m appreciating all these moments and I feel present with my friends and family, but nothing compares to the feeling I had when caring for you.  I do realize you were an exceptional patient, but still, I’d like to help others.  AND, I’d love to help people navigate through some of the business stuff, too.  It’s SO CONFUSING and I’ve learned so much about it all.  So please send that out to the world…..to those folks in need…..I’m here to help in any way I can.

And to end this post, here’s the final photo before they took you away.  I can’t believe it’s been a month.  Wish I could hear your voice.  I miss it so much.

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I love you, dad.  I promise to write soon.

Good Morning, Dad!

Good Morning, Dad

A blog in memory of the sweetest man on earth to let him know about my travels and time at home….

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to start a blog.  This past Tuesday, June 16th, my sweet papa died peacefully at home and I’d like to continue talking to him…..continue to let him know what’s going on in our lives.  To tell him about our journey to have a baby, to tell him about my life on the road as a singer/songwriter, to tell him about what craft projects or house projects I’m getting into while at home.  My dad has inspired me to live the life that best suits me. The most honest life I can live.  He told me the world would be a better place if we all did what we love to do.  He said it was the most responsible way to live.  My dad was the healthiest man on earth until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three weeks ago.  He died one month to the day of his last bike ride of 13 miles. He was a champion sprint triathlete, never had a drink in his life, ate a perfect diet, was a champion weight lifter in his younger years, was a guidance counselor to his entire family and his friends, was the most positive man on earth…..no joke, he was.  He never had a health problem.  Not one.  Never took a prescription drug, never had a headache, and only vomited one time in his life after having bad pizza.  That was 30 years ago. My dad was my favorite person on this planet.  He was incredibly kind and generous.  He was pure joy and anyone that spent even a second with him knew it.  He was a special force in this world and when his energy was leaving his body over this past week, I could feel it.  It was impossible not to feel it.  He gave me the strength to take care of him.   We had some nights of no sleep during this past week.  He said he was never in pain, but was having trouble getting comfortable, so night time was difficult.  When I was a little girl and couldn’t sleep, my dad would sit on the end of my bed and run his fingers between my toes.  It’s one of my first memories of his care and love for me.  Six days ago, after a night of no sleep, dad was sitting at the end of the couch and I was napping on the couch with my feet toward him.  When I woke up, he was running his fingers between my toes.  He literally had no energy left and that’s what he was doing.  He cared for me while I cared for him until the very end.  That’s the kind of man he was. When my dad was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, the doctor said he probably had three months to live.  My dad asked if there was any way to make it faster.  It actually made us laugh.  His body was not his own, he couldn’t exercise, he couldn’t eat, he lost all his muscle mass in what seemed like a matter of minutes.  Fourteen days after his diagnosis, he couldn’t walk on his own anymore.  He had no interest in living in his new body.  We didn’t want to watch him live like that for long either.  We wanted him to die quickly and he did.  He died just like he wanted to.  We joked that it was like a sprint triathlon.  On Tuesday morning, we called Hospice and let them know we thought he was getting close.  Our nurse and social worker came over straight away.  I’d like to say, having hospice around is like having a bunch of angels in the house.  They were amazing over the past couple weeks.  And they loved my dad and were amazed at how quickly he made dying happen. My cousin, Dave arrived at around 10AM the morning of my dad’s passing.  I believe he was waiting for him to arrive. Dave looks just like my papa and is goofy like him, too.  Once Dave arrived, we each took turns saying goodbye to him and letting him know it was okay to let go.  My brother and his kids were a huge part of this process.  We were all caregivers together. My husband, Danny, opened his heart so big I’m surprised it didn’t explode from love for all of us. He was our rock.  After we all said our goodbyes and sang him a few songs, Dave, Danny and my brother, Rick sat on the bed and told stories, just chatted a bit, and then looked over at around 4:00PM and noticed he wasn’t breathing anymore.  Just like that.  He willed himself to die.  That’s how true he was to his own life.  That’s how connected he was to his body and to his spirit.  So with his family present, his spirit lifted.  I swear the world must have felt it.

For the two mornings since his death, I found myself saying,”Good morning, Dad” as I was waking up.  It’s the strangest feeling knowing he’s not part of our physical world anymore.  Knowing this Father’s day will be my first without a father.  My heart is broken.  But I promised him we’d be okay and I meant it.  For he passed his joy onto me and I am committed to spreading it……..

Thanks, Dad.  For being my biggest inspiration, for spreading so much joy, for being a father figure to so many of my childhood friends, for your generosity, for your honesty, for your unwavering commitment to leading a healthy life in every way.  Thank you for being a beautiful father for the 41 years I’ve been on this planet.  I haven’t wrapped my heart around what life will be like now, but I promise to do my best to follow in your footsteps…..

Thank you, also, for always letting me order the biggest, most expensive steak on the menu starting at the age of six.