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.
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.
Fashion District wrap sweater
Stuart Weitzman sandals
Marc Jacobs bag
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.
Know my dad would have loved that.