Have you ever heard anyone say that something was “heavy on their heart”? Have you ever said that yourself? For me, the answer is yes to both. I used to hear people say that and not really know what they meant. I used to say that simply to get my point across but not completely understand the weight of the words I was speaking. I learned what it meant to have something be heavy on your heart in my second semester of my first year of college.
You see, the thing about grief is that there is no manual. People know that there are stages, and they know that at one point or another you’ll experience them all, sometimes you’ll experience different stages multiple times. They know that the first year, across the board, is always the hardest. What they can’t predict is when in the first year that grief will hit you.
I learned that for something to be “heavy on the heart” is not just a figure of speech. That is a very real (and very scary) phenomenon. Having emotion simmer inside of you until it comes to a boiling point is virtually indescribable (but I’ll try). It’s almost like having multiple textbooks stacked on top of your chest, to the point where your breathing is constricted. Everyday tasks that usually don’t bother you, like bending down to pick something up, leave you winded. Any type of physical activity, including walking upstairs, pulls at your muscles and induces sharp pains.
I thought I was dying.. I had an EKG and chest scan ran on me to figure out what was going on. Big surprise: nothing was physically wrong with me. This was my body’s way of letting me know it was beyond time to grieve, and do so intentionally. Our mind is a powerful resource. While something being “heavy on the heart”, in my experience, is not real in the sense of locating a tangible source, it is as real as it gets in the sense of manifestations.
I’ve been dreading this day for an entire year. Who knew it was going to come so soon…
A year ago today I lost my father to a motorcycle accident.
When I say that to people, I’m almost certain they get this very grotesque and dramatic image in their minds. The average person is going to hear motorcycle accident and assume that the scene was in complete disarray like something off of an action movie. Well, accidents like those DO happen in real life. My dad witnessed a few himself. However, his wasn’t like that. I wasn’t there, but based on the police report and the scene, it was nothing like the dramatized accidents we see on TV. His accident was something he should have been able to get up and walk away from with minor injuries, if any. But he didn’t. He’s never going to walk in the flesh again…
I remember that day more clearly and accurately than I remember yesterday. It’s true what they say about the bad/traumatic things standing out in your mind more than the good things. I can’t imagine that there will be a day when I don’t remember. It was the day my life changed forever.
I won’t go into all of the details of the chain of events here.. That’s not what this is for. But I will say that I knew before I was told just like I’m convinced he knew it was coming before it happened.
Instead, I’m going to post here what I said at his funeral because to this day, honoring his memory is what matters most.
“For the last few days I’ve been thinking about what I should say… I guess I just never thought this would happen. In my mind, my dad was Superman and he’d live forever. But, he’d always say that when it was his time, it was his time. I’m trying to find comfort in his belief and I hope you all will do the same.
Life with my dad was an adventure. He always had something in mind for us to do. We were that family who’d drive an hour away to eat pizza then turn around and come right back home. We watched movies together, laughed together, danced at 4am together (one of my fondest memories), and had conversations together.
About 2 years ago (3, now) he showed me a poem he had written. The poem was about him having 9 lives and the way he used each one. He didn’t live any of them perfectly, but the point is he lived.
He was an amazing man, one of my best friends, and I’m so grateful that I got to bond with him. I’ll wear his smile everywhere I go.”
Daddy, some days it’s a lot harder than others but I didn’t lie. I’m still smiling. I’m still carrying on.