It's a little hard to believe, but it's coming up on the one-year anniversary of my father's death. As with most years, I'm struck simultaneously by the feeling that the past year went so quickly and the feeling that so much has happened that it seems like more time must have passed. It's hard to write about this without taking refuge in cliches but I can see what people mean when they describe grieving as a process. I'm definitely further along in the process -- way further along -- but there are still times when I hit a bump in the road. (See? another cliche.)
Today I'm taking Little Miss to the dress rehearsal for her ballet school's Nutcracker performance. She has "graduated" from being an angel (the role that the littlest girls play) to playing a soldier in the battle scene. (I'm praying the guns aren't loaded.) I have to say that I was not prepared for the feeling of melancholy and dread that's come over me with the dress rehearsal an hour or two away. You see, last year, the Nutcracker dress rehearsal -- also the Friday before Christmas -- took place on a cold blustery day with snow forecast for the morning. My dad was in the hospital and he had taken a sharp turn for the worse. As I took photos of Little Miss looking adorable and proud I was fielding cell phone calls telling me my dad was probably dying and I needed to go up to W-B as soon as possible. I flew home with Little Miss, threw clothes in a bag, called my father-in-law to come and hang with the kids until Tom got home, and got on the turnpike.
It was a strange drive; the roads were eerily silent, probably in anticipation of the bad weather to come. That night was the last time I saw my dad really conscious. He died the day after I returned home, just a few hours after entering the hospice.
The really weird thing about grief is that you can be going along, minding your own business, and it hits you over the head, as suddenly and as deeply as Wile E. Coyote's anvil.