Mere Intention

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Just Fine

Today I met with a trusted advisor and shared my story of my dad’s illness and death. My intention of this meeting was to gain insight into my grieving process: have I missed a step, am I crazy, am I doing this correctly?

While I know that grief is a singular process, and I know it’s something I’m not running from, I just needed some semi-professional reassurance that my process is falling within the boundaries of normal.

Here’s the deal: It’s been almost 7 months since Dad died from a terrible, ruthless cancer. We don’t know how many tumors were in his brain when he passed, with their nasty tentacles. November 14th will be two years since the diagnosis – The Call – and I’m pretty sure I began my mourning and grieving process that day, that hour, that second, that breath.

I shared many great days with my Dad in the 16.5 months after The Call. I visited him, he visited me. We ran errands together that eventually required motorized carts at Lowe’s and then forgetting why we were there. The use of a cane to walk 256 feet to the edge of Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park – then he posed for photos with my husband and son flexing their muscles like strong men beside the lake. He shared very specific, mystical experiences with me (“They’re waiting for me.”). We watched television and birds and I tried to communicate it was only 4am, so no, we were not going to be able to get donuts and get a haircut yet….choosing to not remind him that he hadn’t been able to walk or leave his bed for months. I emptied his pee bag. I wiped his tears. I prepared food. I was present.

I feel like each and every moment with my dad from his diagnosis was one of mourning, and yet, each moment was more valuable than the one before. Shiny-er and more vibrant, until finally, it was all over.

No more Sunday phone calls, no seeing my kids play sports or helping my husband with a house project. No more giggles and pure joy when we arrive at his house, or he at ours. No more inviting friends over at his request so he could see them while he was in town. No more Fat Tire, Silver Grill, fire pit…rituals – gone. Gone. They’re just all gone.

And here’s where I feel fine.

I feel like my dad lived an amazing life. He impacted so many people. At his funeral a resounding theme was, “I thought I was his best friend.” That is no small feat – to make everyone around you feel like they are the most important person in your eyes. He pulled it off flawlessly – and meant it.

I feel rested, and complete, and hopeful. I feel sad sometimes, but mostly I feel good. Strong. I also feel like I have been given glimpses into the mystical and unknown, through things Dad shared with me, but also by choosing to sit in the midst of the pain and the deterioration and the transition from body and the newly specific loneliness.

Something I said out loud today to my trusted advisor was that my dad always chose me. Always. He breathed life into me and encouraged and truly supported and respected me as a person. He loved me unconditionally. I know that the love he had for me is exactly what I feel about my own kids – and my intention is to be present for them, to show up, and hope that one day they say, “My mom always chose me.”

About fourteen years ago (pre-kids by a few years) I recognized that when my kids started middle school, that would be the time that I was home. Home to send them off and home to greet them. Being present. Being ready to listen, to engage when they wanted to, to just share space with them. This fall my son started middle school. I think the stars have been working to align over the last few years. Aligning to point toward the forgotten desires of my heart, with an unexpected, and frankly, unfathomable trajectory to get there.

I would take my dad back in a heartbeat and my enormously stressful job, too, but that’s not where we are. We are here. Right now. In this moment and this situation.

I’m feeling just fine. I’m smiling. I’m growing. I’m sad, but I am strong. And I am present.

12 Weeks

12 weeks ago, I left my job.

I’ve completed tasks, like:

  • re-stocked my pantry and cleaning closet
  • gone through sections of the house and trashed plenty of things
  • worked on meal plans and grocery shopping
  • vacuumed a lot
  • used the slow-cooker for the first time in over a decade
  • taken cars to the mechanic
  • paid bills
  • taken the dogs to the groomer
  • shredded old paperwork

I’ve been intentional and fully present when:

  • taking my son and friends to football practice twice a week and watching them play on Saturdays
  • volunteering in my daughters classroom about every week
  • staying with one of my best friends from high school for a few days before visiting family
  • planning a trip to Las Vegas for me and my hubby (our first time!)
  • having coffee with friends, often
  • watching my kids, just watching them
  • practicing yoga about three times a week
  • taking my daughter to school every morning and picking her up in the afternoons
  • loading the washing machine
  • reading books

What I’ve not done is:

  • be distracted
  • battled anxiety
  • worried about missing something
  • hurried
  • showered often enough
  • forgotten to pick up a kid
  • spent enough time with my husband

In the next 12 weeks, I hope to continue with intention as I move through my days, thinking about what I’m doing and who I’m doing it for – myself, my family, others – and continue to practice aligning my actions with my desires.

The next 12 weeks finish out 2016. My intention when leaving my job was to focus on my family at least through the end of the year. Half way there and I’m feeling okay about things. Good, I think. But the time has flown by and I’m interested to see how energies move in the coming weeks.

I walked away from too much trying to be accomplished in too little time, and now often find myself pleasantly surprised at how slowly a day can go by – something I’m thankful the universe is handing me.


I just poured some of Dad’s ashes into a tiny ziplock bag. Tomorrow morning we are taking them with us in a hike to one of the last places we took him the last time he visited.  


Where to start?

This week marks six months since the end.

Sunday morning at 6:34a central time will be six months since I sat next to Dad as he took his very last inhale. His last long, slow, inaudible exhale. Twenty-two…27…30, 31, 32…35…37, 38, 39, 40…

Since counting the seconds, I quit my job, have absorbed a barrage of emotions and words from a few family members about how I should be/should have been acting/processing/grieving, traveled to Mexico with my husband, extended myself into vulnerable situations for the hopeful long term benefit of my children, try to show up everyday to what I need to do and try to also do some things I want to do, have been practicing yoga multiple times a week and meditated a few times, and just now am trying to write. There’s so much to process. To grieve.

A small urn of Dad’s ashes is now at my house. It was weird when I opened the vessel so we could look at the contents, and then some spilled out on the desk. We all giggled, and my son casually said, “Hi, Grandpa.”

The last phone call with one of my clients was divine –  in the midst of discussing life and choices and death, she said, “Heather, mourning is a singular process.” These words were exactly what I needed in that moment, and I have gone back to them numerous times in the last few months. No one’s opinion of my process is important. No one’s input is needed or sought.

In the almost three months since leaving my job, I have worked hard to find space to think and process and be fully present with my family, which has been harder and more fruitful than I expected. It has taken most of these weeks to stop thinking that I was supposed to be doing something else in the midst of my newly flexible days, that I’d dropped a ball or forgotten something.

It is hard to slow down, to sit still. My intention is to just stop. Be. Get to a place where I can feel again – feel anything.

I told a friend today that I think I’m getting close to feeling things again – I am sensing light, so I know I’m facing an optimal direction, and I will keep taking one step at a time toward the light until I have walked through it.




Protected: First family reality

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The night before

I’m standing in FedEx Office (fka Kinkos) while my dads funeral pamphlets print at 11pm. Alone. Beautifully designed by CJ over the last months with the intention of being printed on cardstock. The lovely employee, Elle, printed up multiple samples for me on different papers and the stock is very heavy and cracks badly when folded. And it’s hard to fold well. 

I sent a few photos to CJ and her response was simply ‘do whatever is best’ and she means it. 

The last few days are a blur. Funeral home, church, catering, flower shop, clothes shopping, travelers, slide shows, family relations. 

I’m exhausted. I’m emotional. I’m sad. I’m blessed. I’m grateful. I’m trying so hard to be intentional with my energy, to take care of me and how I want to remember and grieve this time. I don’t want it to be too blurry or too busy or to distracted. 

This has come off as selfish. That’s a misinterpretation of self-care at a very deep level. Of protecting myself and my heart and emotions. Of choosing me and not spending energy on what isn’t mine. 

My only exception is CJ. We’re in this together. We have been the whole time. That’s not changing now. So it’s really not an exception – it’s part of my intention. 

Day Three – Morning

I said to my stepdad on Saturday that I suspect my then feelings of okay-ness would be temporary. Maybe like having a baby – you’re euphoric and the adrenaline carries you for a day or so, maybe two, then you crash and are completely exhausted and emotional. 

Well, late last night I started feeling a shift. From just pure relief and ability to breath, to sad. The heaviest sadness I’ve ever felt. My eyes burn, my chest hurts. I don’t want to move. 
Being here at the house, just CJ and me, has been amazing. To be in a home that is honest and true, with no unspoken expectations, and quiet. It is exactly perfect for this transition. 

Day Two

This morning we went to church. Where my dad played drums in the praise band until he couldn’t. With the people who have loved on my family through this whole ordeal. With people that my dad has directly impacted. 

Then a visit to the funeral home to finalize casket and cremation and viewing and cost details. 

I went shopping for a bit. Alone for the first time. 

When I got back, I offered to fill out the last of the paperwork for the funeral home. Information for my dads death certificate.  

And now I’m trying to find a song for the short video of photos that will be played during the service. It’s been years since I’ve been around church music. I’ve listened to dozens…then I played one and lost it. Sobbing. I could remember Dad playing drums for it at church. 

I’ll offer that one.  

You see him there in the background watching me? That’s my dad. Always attentive to me. Always engaged.


I took another light snooze. At 6a was woken up. Breathing changes. Words to Dad. Songs – 10,000 Reasons and American Pie. 

Deep inhale at the end of American Pie. 

One more inhale at 6:34a. 

That was the last. 


Hearing someone you love sob for the one they’re losing is shaking.

Love in LoCo

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