Chronic Grace

Finding the Grace in a Life With Chronic Illness

“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.” –Neil Gaiman.

25 years ago today, my father died suddenly of a massive heart attack. My mother found him, lying face down in the cold and snow in our backyard.

I never got to say goodbye. Never got to tell him how much I love him, how grateful I was to have him in my life, how proud of him I was.  How much I adored him.

Still, my greatest consolation is the knowledge that he is now home with the only One who could love him more than I. And I often feel his presence, both his and my mom’s and I know deep down that neither of them has ever truly left me, as much as I miss their physical presences …the hugs, the smiles, the laughter.

Shifting the Sun

When your father dies, say the Irish
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the British,
you join the club you vowed you wouldn’t.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever
and you walk in his light.

–Diana Der-Hovanessian
From the book Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratidude

Thank you, daddy, for leaving me your light.




8 thoughts on “25 Years

  1. masonjarsandlightningbugs says:

    I’m so sorry you lost your daddy so suddenly. Such a terrible shock must have a been so hard. And not having the chance to say goodbye would be heart-breaking. My mother’s daddy died of a massive heart attack, too–he was only 44 and it happened just a few weeks before her 20th birthday. My daddy was sick for a long time, and it was hard watching his health deteriorate but it was also a gift to be able to spend more time with him. The last few weeks were terrible, though, as 29 years of progressively worsening heart/vascular disease culminated in the loss of his leg, which his weakened body just wasn’t able to bear. I miss him constantly but sometimes grief just hits out of the blue. Like a few days ago, I found a jar of pepper sauce that I had forgotten about–he loved his garden but he didn’t do much canning except for pepper sauce–and I suddenly realized it was the last jar of his pepper sauce that I’d ever have, and it just knocked the wind right out of me. Thank you for sharing this and the lovely poem. Sending you big hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thanks for the understanding and especially for the hugs! All of January is tough for me…and you know every time my husband goes out to shovel snow my heart sticks in my throat until he’s done. It’s so hard…I don’t think I’ll ever “adjust” or “get over it”. I was such a daddy’s girl, I just adored him, and he was such s good man. Really, I was so blessed to have a father like him (I was adopted! Mom was 40 and dad was 49, which is how I wound up with a dad who fought in WWII) and I am grateful…I read somewhere that grief is love with nowhere to go. That fits. I miss both of my folks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful poem. I’m going to learn it by heart. Thank you xo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Henrietta, I am so glad you like it my dear friend. xoxoxo


  3. Fibronacci says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Barbara. This is a beautiful ode to your father. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks my dear, that means so much to me! I miss him so very much…it’s still incredibly painful, even after 25 years (!) but I want to remember him in positive ways…he was a wonderful, sweet, sensitive, funny human being, I want his legacy to be one of warmth and kindness and decency, you know? Not just my struggles with grief. xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cheryl crotty says:

    That poem was just so beautiful Barbara…So sad your Dad passed so young…but you are walking in his light…that’s a wonderful thing…xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. I loved him so very much…he was quite a bit older when my folks adopted me (mom was 40, dad was 49), so he was 73–and had a history of heart disease-so…but I was only 24. The hardest part, still, is that it happened so suddenly, and I never got to say goodbye. But I’ve come to accept that, and that he knew how much I loved him even without my telling him at the end. I’m very glad that I made a habit of telling him frequently for no reason! A good habit, I think, for all of us to follow! Thanks for your lovely comment—it’s so comforting xoxoxo


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