Death sucks. I feel that way, even though I haven't experienced a lot of it. The first death I experienced was when I was five. My Grandpa LaDue passed. I remember my Mom crying a lot, but I wasn't sure what I felt as death was a new concept to me. Then in 2000, 19 years after my grandpa, my Grandma LaDue died. This hit me hard. I was very close to my grandma. Many of you remember me writing about her in my spiritual memoir, Came to Believe, A Journey of Trust, Faith and Perseverance. I miss her still every day even though I feel her very near to me.
This week I experienced the death of someone close to me for a third time, 19 years later after my grandma went to heaven. I am overwhelmed with sadness, and it has been devastating. I can't believe I will never see him again. On February 4th My Mom's fiancé passed away one month after his family moved him back to Minnesota to a memory care facility. When he left for Minnesota, I thought I had mourned the loss of him. I remember visiting him my last day in Arizona at Christmas. I helped him by holding his strawberry milkshake so he could sip it while he just stared at me with his big brown eyes. I cleaned the milkshake off his beard, I kissed his forehead and said, "Goodbye," for what I now know was the last time. But, the mourning and grief started all over again after my mom called me early Monday am to tell me the news of his passing.
The month before he died it had been very hard on both my Mom and I, and it still is. For her, she lost her fiancé and wasn't sure if she would see him again. She was also having to move back to her roots in California leaving the life she had in Arizona since she was 19. She has packed up all of her stuff, getting rid of a lot, which I am sure was stressful. For me, my life would be taking a quick turn having my mother come live with me taking on one of the most significant financial stresses and life changes to date. At first fear creeped in and I freaked out. Now, I am finding the blessings in the situation and gratitude that I will get to spend more time with my Mom.
Just before Dwight moved back to Minnesota, while he was hospitalized my Mom had finally agreed to marry him after his years of asking. He was so happy and excited, and I too was excited to officially have him as my step-dad. I never thought my Mom would agree to marry again. She told him "no" so many times. We thought for him, maybe her saying "yes" was all he needed to be happy before he passed on. They just had their 14th anniversary the week after he left to Minnesota. She only talked to him once via FaceTime since he had been gone where they both said "I love you" at the same time after starring at each other with no words.
Dwight, whom I called Dwighty, was like a Father to me. He was such a support to my Mom and I. He promised me he would never leave my Mom, that is why I felt so conflicted in my emotions when he refused to cooperate in getting better. I felt he gave up on my Mom..... and me too. I was angry and so sad at the same time. Before this, he was always there for me when I needed him. When I broke my ankle in 2014, he was the first person my Mom and I called. He did not hesitate to leave work and drive to California to come to the rescue. When my Mom needed to move out of her house he jumped at the idea to have her move in with him as if he hadn't been mentioning it and asking her for years. So it was a win win and a huge stress relief for me.
One of my best memories of Dwight was two years ago when he had got out of the hospital. I volunteered to take him to his Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that he hadn't been able to attend so he could accept his birthday chip. He was so proud to have me there, and I was happy to support him. All his AA buddies were thrilled to see him.
Something that used to drive me crazy was when I came home to visit, was when he often asked me to help him reset his passwords to his bank, update his Apple devices and show him how to do things online. He trusted me with everything. I was annoyed to help him over and over with the same passwords, but I would give anything to reset one more password for him.
The last few years Dwight had been in and out of the hospital, but he always bounced back. During this hospitalization My mom and I became closer to his family, and that was really cool! He raised some pretty awesome sons who love their father so much. They have been so kind and generous to my Mom during this whole process. But this time he didn't bounce back. He deteriorated quickly. I kept praying he would recover, but it wasn't in God's plan.
The tears haven't stopped. For my Mom or for me. We loved him. Fourteen years is a long time to have someone in your life in the capacity that he was in ours. I will be fine for a few minutes, then think of one of his silly jokes and loose it. He had the oddest humor and could spew out one-liners like it was his full-time job. When my Mom calls me because she is so sad without him, it makes me cry too. When I think about her loss, it makes me very sad. I feel so sorry for her. They were best friends.
I have had a few conversations with him since he passed. Some asking him, "why did you give up on us? We needed you!" Or I will tell him that his grandson, Chester misses him. I always referred to Dwight as Chester, my adorable ShihTzu, grandpa. I have also told to him how happy he made my Mom, how I am glad she found love with him and I was able to witness her in a healthy relationship.
I am wiping the tears from my cheeks now. Then I told myself to stop drying my eyes, to cry it out because death sucks. Grief is necessary and painful. And my tears, they are normal, and there is no reason to silence them.
"If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to heaven
and bring you home again."
Rest in peace DJ Tiger Obert. Luckily today I know you will be one of my Mom and I's guardian angels. There is no doubt we will talk again. Every time I see a tiger, I will think of you. Don't worry; I will mail the tiger card I picked out seven months early for your birthday in June to heaven. Give me a sign when you get it! I love you, Tara