Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dr. Reed's Run 2014

We celebrated our fifth Dr. Reed's Run over the weekend. Here are the words I spoke - - 

2014 marks seven years since our dad passed away unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm. We say that we are celebrating his memory but the truth is that the celebration is hollow. There is nothing we shared in those seven years. No memories made that we can laugh about together, no “remember when” to inspire peals of laughter around the kitchen table. I have 23 years of memories of my dad, but I’m almost thirty now.

Instead, I have grief. The aching injustice of birthdays and Christmases and ordinary Tuesdays without him. When I lost my father in 2007, I grieved the loss of his physical presence – the weight of his arms around me in a welcome-home embrace. The sound of his voice. Places and moments were so infused with his physical presence that his absence felt like an assault – a gaping gash in our family’s delicate skin.

Time has not stitched that gash together. Instead, with each breathe in that we inhale, we exhale a bit of space, certainly not an acceptance of his absence but a distance of seconds spent living growing moving loving crying laughing trying failing moving cooking talking hoping without him.

For me – and grief is so incredibly personal that I speak only for myself – the grief is less about what I miss about him. Instead, it is about what he is missing. He wasn't here when my sister passed her boards or when I moved to Philadelphia. These milestones, however, were set in motion years before and so there can be some peace in knowing that he was at least part of the process, if not the outcome.

It’s the daily bread of the past seven years that he has missed. The lunchtime phone calls that are so mundane that the words would dissipate by dinner – and so we call one another while we eat our sandwiches and pretzels. He knew our dog Charlie – not sweet Fannie girl. We have run half marathons and he didn’t have a chance to cheer for us at the finish line. My sister and I went to Harry Potter World – Dad will never have the chance to taste butter beer.

And so the gash of grief has become less deep with time, as promised by the books I read. But it has widened, a chasm that expands with each day that I become more of the person that I am – but that my dad will never have the chance to meet. I am his daughter, but he knew the me of seven years ago and that’s not fair. And it’s not fair that the memories of him must be spread thinner and thinner across the chasm of grief that spans from October 15, 2007 to the present.

Dr. Reed’s Run has become the antithesis of his widening chasm. When you all come out to support the Brain Aneurysm Foundation through us, you are creating memories for us that include my dad, if only in his honor. We have a chance to say his name to new people. There are very few times that I have the opportunity to say the word Dad out loud. By standing before us today, you give me that gift.

And so we gather together for the fifth time, and I am overwhelmed by the swell of support. I see faces that my dad knew and loved – with whom he ate hot dogs in the cul-de-sac and sat beside during school orchestra concerts. And I see faces that he never met – but with whom he is no less connected, the bond forged in hope and loss. Thank you for your love and support.

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