The Other Shoe

I’m feeling strange these first few days of 2011. I feel hopeful. I feel ready. I feel aware. The last time I felt like this was a long ago New Year’s Eve, the night before the dawning of 2004. I flew to Ann Arbor on a whim to hang out with my sister for NYE, watch her then-boyfriend’s band play a show, met a bunch of her friends, was feeling so positive. The world was at my door and I was kicking that thing down. So great in fact, that after copious amounts of PBR, we declared 2004 The Year of Amy. Big mistake. Huge.

2004 ended up being a year of amazing highs and devastating lows. I got in to my first choice grad school (University of Indiana, for the curious few, in Library Science), I got engaged and married. My sister got married. My brother-in-law got married. But, my dad died. My mom dipped far below what I though could possibly be rock bottom. The worst Thanksgiving in the history of Thanksgiving’s occurred. I didn’t go to my first choice grad school. My job to a turn that I had to quit 6 years later to fully shake. And I was never able to eat Craisens again.

The year started off fine enough. A blur of acceptance letters, wedding planning and trips to Indiana to look at the school and get an apartment. And then? July happened. A few things had been rocky earlier in the year, but we were all headed towards July 16th. The wedding. And then, the Monday after the 4th of July weekend my dad, who hadn’t been feeling well, went to the doctor. He was directly admitted to the hospital from this visit. To the step-down ICU/telemetry monitoring unit for a heart problem. He had some underlying medical problems, ate crappy, smoked and drank. A lot. Enough that the hospital stay threw him in to severe DTs. He was sedated to control it and my understanding was that it would be a few days.

And then my wedding happened while my dad was now in the ICU. I wore the big white dress for him, was going to have him walk me down the aisle and as a surprise picked Can’t Smile Without You as the father-daughter dance song. None of that happened. I didn’t see him on the day of my wedding, or the day before. I was too busy. He woke up that day, spoke to my mom, his mom and his sister. And never spoke again. The wedding was beautiful and awesome and a fun party. We left the next morning for our honeymoon and my dad drastically declined and died on the 27th. We were back, my sister made it back in time, but it was unexpected. It will always be closely associated with my wedding day. My mom was unable to function and instead of moving to Indiana, I deferred grad school and we moved in with my mother. Our marriage had a difficult first year.

Let’s jump forward a few years to 2006. My husband and I had just maybe decided to try for a baby before he left for 6 months for a a rigorous training program that would lead to his absolute dream job. The next day, my mom told us she had stage IV lung cancer, which has a very low survival rate and very few people make it a year when lung cancer is diagnosed at that stage. Needless to say, it seem inappropriate to try and make and flaunt a child that she would never see. My husband went off to training, I stayed home and assumed more and more of my mom’s care. The day before he successfully completed his training program, she died. I was not there. I was at my husband’s graduation. Every single time something life-changing and good happens, it kills someone . I was terrified to have Spencer because I thought someone would die. No one did, but he was born 5 years to the day on the anniversary of my dad’s death. So there is that.

Why dwell on all of this now? Because I feel hopeful. Because I want to make things happen. And I am so afraid that if something good happens that someone will die.

Last picture taken of my dad. Helping stuff candy into take-out boxes for favors.

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18 Responses to “The Other Shoe”

  1. Jody says:

    ::hugs:: Even with the warning, I wanted to read this post. I had to.

    For the rest of my life I will never forget what I said when you called me and told me he had passed away. For the rest of my life, I will regret how that phone call went because it cost us years of friendship. I’m so very sorry about that, if I’ve never told you.

    Don’t be afraid. Please. You deserve to go for whatever it is you want without fearing the worst. I know it’s hard but you owe it to yourself to go for it.

    If you ever need anything from me, I’m here for you. All the best. xoxo

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    It is funny. Even in righting this I have never decided whether I felt like the universe was ruining my happiness or that good things happening to me caused bad things to happen to others. Both, I realize, are ridiculous. As for the phone call, while I was hurt, that is water long under the bridge. All is well, my friend.

    [Reply]

  2. Suzanne says:

    Too bad we can’t make sure the person who dies is someone awful, like Dick Cheney.

    Seriously though, I’m so sorry about your parents. And I’m sorry you feel this way, like bad things are hanging over you all the time, just waiting to jump out and yell “GOTCHA!” as soon as you’re happy. I hope you can work through your fears and see that you deserve every good, wonderful, beautiful thing in your life and so much more. You’re an amazing person.

    xoxo

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    That would be brilliant. I could be like a Duggar Assassin. Now there would be a comic book. I think I am just fixated because the feeling at the new year was so eerily similar. Writing helped get it out of my system. Thank you for your lovely words.

    [Reply]

  3. Natalie says:

    I am so sorry for your losses. Whenever I would hear a friend’s dad died who was an actual DAD to them I would cry, shake my fist at God and say “Why didn’t you take MINE? He’s not doing anything!”
    Yeah. I have issues.
    While my situation is different, I could have filled in many points of my own life and written an identical post. So, I will tell you a (revised version) of what everyone tells me, and hope maybe eventually it will sink in with both of us.

    We deserve happiness. We work at happiness. It is not just life falling into our lap, it is WORK and we deserve every single amazing moment. True, bad things may happen, but not because life is good. Because it is LIFE. ::hugs:: Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I love that last part. I will try and take it to heart. Also? The entire life is good line of clothing makes me stabby. Stabby!

    [Reply]

  4. Amy, I just want to give you a big hug right now. So often when good things happen the damn universe does that to us, but your happiness does not “cause” the bad things. I know it can feel that way.

    I really hope that this year is full of the happy. You are amazing.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Full of the happy. Perfectly put. If I made a vision board or goal chart or dream mumu or whatever is hip these days, that would be in the biggest letters. You are such an amazing friend. I am lucky.

    [Reply]

  5. Veronica says:

    um well this is…awkward. No but seriously Im sorry to have drummed up such sadness but your post is beautiful. I dont have the courage to reflect on anything that deep but think you are awesome because you do. I hate when good people lose their loved ones. You dont deserve to be sad because you kick ass. May he rest in peace. Im sure he is skulking around your house anyway hanging out with his Grandson. xoxo

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I am actually quite grateful because until I was telling you that story I hadn’t been able to figure out exactly what was bothering me. I was able to connect the dots. Because of fruit. And you. And that is why I am glad we are friends. I feel another post brewing, but I think when I resolved to get rid of all the extra stuff cluttering up my life, I must have meant emotionally baggage too and just did not realize it.

    [Reply]

  6. Alana says:

    I am sorry that you have had such pain to go through. I can never imagine how you feel, but am proud of you for putting it out there. It takes a lot to be so honest, especially to people who don’t know you and are quick to judge.
    Huge to you my friend.
    xo

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks for your kind words. I think the new year has me conflicted and I just need to starting throwing things out to the world and letting things go.

    [Reply]

  7. Erin says:

    That’s horrible! I lost my dad, my step-dad and my brother and was convinced I would never have any kind of man in my life and GOd forbid I love any man, because they would all die!

    I’m so sorry, I couldn’t imagine losing BOTH my parents! But it is interesting when Spencer was born!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    That is exactly the kind of feeling it is, the irrational connection between our actions/feelings and someone else’s death. It is so hard to shake. And I’m so sorry you lost your dad so young. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have had 30 years.

    [Reply]

  8. Alison says:

    Oh Amy, I’m so sorry for your loss. And I’m sorry that for you, death is connected with the good moments in your life, the happy times. My hope for you is that this year will be a turning point. That you will have a year full of happiness and good memories, and that none of them will be tainted with sadness.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you so much for coming by and your comment. I hope that writing this was cathartic enough. I am already feeling hopeful for the new year with out the tinge of anxiety.

    [Reply]

  9. […] we started officially dating. We started dating in February 2004, not long after I had declared the Year of Amy. We dated for 3 weeks and he proposed. We were engaged for 4 months and we got married. When we had […]

  10. […] we started officially dating. We started dating in February 2004, not long after I had declared the Year of Amy. We dated for 3 weeks and he proposed. We were engaged for 4 months and we got married. When we had […]

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