Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Scene
My stepfather died on an August afternoon in 1993. I've managed to block out the exact date. And I've never been to his grave.

Until today.

There's no one reason. Like everything in life, it's complicated. I think I've been in varying degress of denial over the years. I've been angry and hurt. I've wanted to forget.

Mostly I've been afraid. With every year that passes, I realize just how much fear has dictated my life. Fear of being abandoned. Fear of failure. Fear of the darkness.

In recent years, I've done quite a bit of work to shine a light on these fears, to take away their power. The result: I am more open, more present. I am kinder to myself, less judgmental of others.

Last year around this time, I felt emboldened. I felt ready to face the crippling fear, to deal with the pain, to accept my brokenness. I resolved to finally visit his grave. But then life got in the way: my mom was diagnosed with the brain tumor. And an instant new fears took hold of me as I faced losing the only parent I have left.

So it's taken me 16 years - exactly half my life - to arrive at this moment. This moment of closure and healing and acceptance. Thank god I made it here in one piece.

Couldn't have done it without the two men in my life. The two men that have walked beside me on the path that ends in this moment. God, my dad would have adored them.

Going to my dad's grave today was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. But you know what? The years of anticipation and avoidance were much harder than the reality. Sure seeing the marker cut through me like a knife. Sure a rush of memories overwhelmed me and came out in heaving sobs.

But the earth didn't spin off its axis. The sky didn't come crashing down. No, instead, the sun kept shining. A gentle breeze caressed my face. And I realized yes, he died but I survived.

A few days ago, Sable Crow suggested I bring something to leave behind with my dad, something I wanted to leave in his hands. So I brought pictures of me and my mom. I chose pictures from my childhood. Because I want to let go of that scared, angry child. I want to move forward knowing I am loved and protected. He owes me that much.

We also left behind a little bottle of Patron that Sable Crow unfurled from his pocket. Like the magician he is. Spirits for the spirits, he said knowingly. Not quite sure how he knew my dad was a boozehound. Or maybe I do: like father, like daughter :)

Thought it was a fitting tribute. Much like the other touching items people had left behind to represent their loved ones.

The three of us particularly loved the tribute on this marker. Love a family that says to heck with wife, mother and grandmother, Toni should be remembered as she was: G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S.

The Outfit
Image maxi
Fashion District wrap sweater

The Accessories
Stuart Weitzman sandals
Marc Jacobs bag

The Grade

The Commentary

I was so afraid of chickening out today that I frankly didn't plan my outfit.

Sable Crow suggested I wear vibrant colors. No somber black allowed.

I figured a flowery print might be nice, appropriate, symbolic.

At the last minute I decided my magical maxi would be just the thing.

It's a go to choice when I want to look fabulous but don't feel so fabulous.

The print makes it impossible to feel anything but ALIVE.

Know my dad would have loved that.

Plus I figured a maxi would offer the right amount of coverage.

You know, in case, I lost it and pulled a Madonna rolling around on the grave.


Caitlin said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, regardless of how long it's been. You should be very proud of yourself for overcoming your fear. I'm sure your step dad was smiling (as cliche as that sounds), especially considering the patron.

internet hugs xo

Rachel said...

My dad died a year and three months ago and I have not gone back to visit his grave yet. You inspire me to not let the potential emotional chaos control me. You are brave - maybe braver than you know or give yourself credit for.

Sable Crow said...

I love this post, because it shows how far you've come in the last few years. The blog, your identity, your power, and your surrender.
Your bravery and clear-heartedness are an inspiration to me, Diabolina. You keep me on track, call me on my shit, and each morning you bring a little gift of pretty dresses, good shoes, and powerful writing by way of my computer screen.
What an honor to make this journey with you.

Thumbelina Fashionista said...

I'm proud of you for going. I'm sure he is proud too!

WendyB said...

Glad that you were able to do this for yourself. Also glad that you spotted the "most glamorous woman in Heaven" gravestone because something about that is very uplifting!

amber said...

{{hugs}} That has to be such a difficult thing to do.

Lynn Tran said...

So glad that you were able to finally conquer this fear and to have two wonderful, strong men by your sides is a blessing. I know your Dad would be proud of the woman you have become, D.

Lisa said...

Good for you for surrendering to that moment...that experience. I think he'd be so proud :).

tam pham said...

you made your dad proud, my dear. hugs to you.

Rachee said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm so happy you conquered your fear. You're so right, the anticipation tends to be so much worse then the actual reality.

Rosemary Brennan said...

Wow, this is such a moving post! I read this on my itty bitty phone screen earlier and couldn't wait to get to my computer so I could leave a proper comment. Cheers to you for overcoming your fears--like everyone else said, I'm sure your pops is beaming with pride for the person you've grown up to be. It can be so difficult to let go of the past, especially to share it in a such a public way. But I think you did it beautifully--you're an amazing writer!

weezermonkey said...


StartingOver@28 said...

I heart the fact that you overcame a fear and met it head on. Perfect outfit for a tough day...

HazelnutPhotography said...

It's such an odd feeling to be so proud of someone who you've had no hand in at all. I'm so glad that you went. So happy that you're putting a bit of closure on such a traumatic time in your life. So ecstatic that you're reconnecting. You're an inspiration m'dear. And he would have felt so much more than that. Kiss to your face.

Jadelily said...

*hugs* Thank you for sharing this personal and powerful story.

Sheila said...

You are very brave, and I'm sure he is very proud of all you and your mother's accomplishments :)

JCH said...

D - so inspired by you...for conquering fear and seeing what we all see...a fabulous, inspiring, successful woman! You da bomb and a half!



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