Thursday, January 4, 2018
Reading through the Pain
Today is a difficult day for me. One year ago today was the last time I would ever see my father. He was admitted into the hospital for the first time in my 35 years. Two days later he was gone.
This has been an extremely difficult year for me. I would typically call my dad often and see him just as much. In his final six months, I had taken on a full time teaching job. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, to say the least, between work and three children (ages 2, 4 & 13). I hadn't been to see him as much as I should have when he was admitted into the hospital. I made sure to visit him both days he was there, no matter how tired I was.
He asked me to take him home from the hospital. He told me he wanted to be at home. We didn't realize he had so little time, but maybe he did, maybe he knew. I convinced him to stay so they could help him gain strength before going home. I kissed him on his forehead and told him I'd see him tomorrow.
I should have listened.
The one thing that I have found that really helped me during this year, is reading. My children and my husband have helped, but often times they have been at a loss of how to help.
I read this quote in the beginning of my journey through the pain:
This quote by Cathy Lamb, spoke to me. My family wanted to help, but it was impossible. There were just not enough hugs in the world to get through to my emotional chaos. Don't get me wrong, it put a smile on my face, even when there were tears streaming down my cheeks, but it couldn't stop the tears. I wanted to stop crying, for my children, for my husband, for myself. I just didn't know how.
I needed an escape, but not a physical escape. I didn't want to leave my loved ones, I loved their physical presence. I needed something to invade the space in my mind and help me to forget this newly created hole in my heart and in my world. It took some time, but I finally realized what it was that I needed.
When I pick up a book, I am transformed into a new person. I can be a mermaid or a vampire. A princess of a far away land or a power woman running a huge corporation. I can travel to places I have never been, some that don't exist even! All of these things are possible, but only when I open the pages of a book.
I felt a physical difference in myself as I sat indulging in my latest fictional find too. I noticed my shoulders release a bit of tension. My head did not hurt quite as much. And my ever present anxiety was not quite as noticeable.
In my life, reading has always been a hobby of mine, but there have been many times it tends to take the back burner. When my dad passed away, I had just recently found some semblance of a work-life balance enabling me to read for pleasure again occasionally. I had been working on the Harry Potter series for years, of course I read other books between each HP book, but it was a slow process nonetheless.
My dad finished all of the Harry Potter books, one right after another when they were the latest and greatest things at Barnes and Noble. It took me a long while before I even decided to give them a chance. Originally, I didn't think they were going to be "my cup of tea" so to speak. So in 2012, I finally started the first book. In January 2017, when he passed, I was working on the 5th HP book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
When my dad earned his angel wings, I just wanted to retreat from the world around me and cry. I cried for all the time we had and I cried for the time we would never have.
It took a couple months, but I finally picked up my Harry Potter book again. When I did, I noticed a difference in myself. I still yearned to be with my dad, but I could escape to Hogwarts whenever I needed. Once I was there, I was Harry Potter. I did and said what Harry Potter did. It was EXACTLY what I needed (except maybe his invisibility cloak).
As I made more time for my fictional world, I noticed that I began to feel closer to my dad too. I was reading words that he had enjoyed during his life. I loved to imagine him reading and feeling the same things that I was experiencing as I went. Reading this felt like it had a healing quality and am so glad I discovered it.
A year later, I have just recently finished the 6th book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I hope to finish the final book in the series and visit Harry Potter World (fingers crossed). My dad and I had talked about it several times. He did not get a chance to go, but I know he will travel with me in spirit when I do.
I know Harry Potter is not for everyone, but I highly recommend reading through the pain. It really has had a therapeutic effect for me. Maybe your loved one mentioned a book or series they enjoyed in life. I challenge you to go get it. Read it. Feel your loved one laughing and crying along with you as you journey through the pages. You won't regret it.
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