Dad. Circa 1981.

Written 4/24/18

Look at that guy. That guy right there in those sweet shorts. Showing some leg. That’s my dad. And today, April 24th, is his birthday. I feel kind of tired. And a bit heavy about it. It is funny how each year is different. With all of the different holidays and milestones that my family continue to miss. Sometimes it just feels surreal. Like a dream. Their birthdays don’t usually drain me emotionally like the death anniversaries.

But my dad’s birthday is different.

I used to like to celebrate my dad on his birthday. Usually by drinking. A hefty amount. I am a Thomas and my family lineage battled with moderation. At least that is what I was told.

So, 6 years ago, that is what I set out to do. “Celebrate” him. My dad was a lovely human and he LOVED his alcohol. He loved it a little TOO much. He was actually sober from alcohol one year before his death. My brother and I bought him a lazy boy recliner to celebrate the milestone. Within just a few months, he set fire to the right arm of it because he fell asleep with a cigarette in his hand. But, that is another story.

My dad’s appendix and his stubborn ways ending up costing him his life as he kept delaying his doctor visits. He must have known. But alcohol was no friend in our household. Funny how my mom could go her entire life without being drunk. I tried to spike her lemonade the night my dad died and she smacked me on my head. Haha. At least we both got a laugh that night. Alcohol was not my mom’s thing. It was my dad’s thing. And I am my father’s daughter.

Back on April 24, 2012 I started off my celebration innocent enough as always. A glass of wine on the patio. Talking to my dad. And that was the last thing I remember. Then I was blacked out for 2 and a half days. No memory of anything. I wasn’t working. I was home. Probably crying. I would imagine. But, I don’t really know. My friend said I called him and said some concerning things. He was worried. I am sure my dogs were scared. I am sure subconsciously I was scared.

I was also so tired. I was exhausted from trying to keep it all together. I was no longer myself. I felt dead inside. In a way, I guess you could say that I was slowly dying. Death and the grief that follows isn’t a walk in the park. It does things to you. It is like you take a deep breath, but if you don’t give yourself space and permission to grieve, you just keep holding onto that breath.

I thought I was grieving. I was in therapy. I went to a grief group. One time I went to my therapist in a black out and she still charged me. She could have at least given me the cliff notes of our session on that bill.

When you try and grieve and numb the pain with a drink, you cannot get very far. Alcohol suffocates you. It suppress everything. It stunts your growth. I kept drinking through all of it. And I was drinking for every occasion. I drank to remember and I drank to forget.

Then on that Friday, April 27, I came to for a second. I was drinking boxed wine out of a coffee mug. Crying. My dogs were crying. We were all crying. I called my friend. I am unsure of what I said. But it was mostly leaning towards the idea of how tired I was. Another friend heard the news and called me asking if I needed company. I said no. I was embarrassed and ashamed. But, for whatever reason, I called her back. And said YES before I could think.

I was offered a tiny window and I squeezed my ass right through it.

My friend came over and we talked. She asked if I wanted to go to a meeting and I don’t know why I said yes, but I did. I was still buzzed as walked inside and headed to the basement of a church. I don’t remember who was there. I don’t remember what was said. I remember having a baseball cap on, trying to hide. I remember having a feeling.

On April 28, I went to another meeting in an auditorium in North Hollywood. There were so many people there. It was wild. And as people shared, I heard similarities. I heard enough of them to keep me going back.

And as of April 28, 2012, I never picked up another drink. I kept going. And going. And going, I met people like me. People with similar stories. We talked. We laughed. We cried. I shared. I did all of this without a drink. And it was scary AF. But I did it. And I am still doing it. I still go to meetings every now and again because I never want to forget. And I stay close to people. To what I have learned. I communicate as best as I can. I take care of myself. And I continue to learn and remain open to learning.

Honesty, openness and willingness are the keys for me. We never stop learning. So we never stop growing. It can be hard and it comes with its challenges. But the A-ha moments can be interesting and fun and then you get to share them with others to help them along on their path.

When this particular date rolls around, so do the emotions. This time in my life is packed full with meaning and will feelings. I am self aware of what is happening now. And I am easy on myself. Well, easier. Haha. In my years of sobriety I finally learned how to exhale. To fully breathe.

So on April 24, 1935, my dad was born. And on April 24, 2012, a part of me began to die.

The part that was stuck and wounded. The part of me that was so lost and so disconnected. The part of me that thought I would never see the light again. The part of me that was so broken that I had no hope of ever being put back together. The list goes on. But the good news is, nearly 6 years later, here I sit. Feeling pretty darn good about how things turned out. Feeling damn grateful for my life and for everyone in it. And feeling overwhelmingly proud for how far I have come.

Life is precious. Life is fleeting. Life is beautiful. Life is heartbreaking. Life is light. Life is dark. Life is all of that. And the wonderful news is that there is life after death. My life began again the moment I decided to live again. And I will be forever grateful. I usually don’t share things like this on social media. I like to keep it light and fluffy. But, today, I thought why wouldn’t I share a story of hope? I know writing continues to help me heal. And we all need more stories of hope. I am proud of who I am. And I most definitely proud of how far I have come. (finally)

Dad, I love you. I miss you. I miss your laugh and your jokes. You did the best you could do. Because it was all you knew how to do. I know that. I know a little more now. Not to rub it in or anything. But, I do. Haha. So, now I have a responsibility to live that life. That life that you would have lived had you known a little more. I know you are proud of me. And I know that as I get up on that stage this Sunday to share the gift of laughter with people, the gift that you gave me, you will be right there with me. But if you could send a sign, like a free plate of nachos with extra jalapeños, that would be great. I love you dad!

I called my Great Aunt Ta Ta (yes that was what I called her), after the my mom’s death(after my dad and brother-the last death), and asked, “Ta Ta, what do I do now?” And she responded with great determination,

“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”
-Ernest Hemingway or Leonard Cohen- (Not even the internet knows)

PS I cried when I typed this, but felt better after. I closed my computer and went to put my coffee in the microwave. It spilled EVERYWHERE. My old ways wanted to pout. My default setting wanted to say I knew this day was going to suck hard. But, I have retrained my brain and here is evidence. Instead I shouted, “SHIT!” For a few seconds was annoyed. Then I laughed. I said aloud, “Well, today will be good, but today won’t be perfect.” 

2 thoughts on “4/24

  1. I read this post twice…all the way through. And I cried both times. Thank you for your vulnerability and your openness in sharing this part of your story with your readers. You have known love and now you know pain as well. On my own journey, I am learning that there cannot be joy without suffering. Sending you lots of positive vibes ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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