Tag Archives: death

Love is a four-legged word.

Phew…this has been the blog post I have dreaded writing the most.

Where we last left off – I had fractured my left ankle on June 11 in the middle of an obstacle course run and it threw me off of my half-marathon training (until August 2, to be exact); then, a little less than a month later, I lost my dad on the Fourth of July.

In the 2 1/2 weeks that followed my dad’s passing, I slowly got back on my feet. Friends and family were there to support me endlessly; and I had the constant love of my furbaby, Tappy. Anytime I needed to cry or just lay in bed, she was there for me without hesitation, giving me kisses and comforting me with her cuddles.

Sadly, July just had to be the month from Hell, and my furbaby was taken from me too soon.

Losing a parent is hard. Losing a dog is also hard (I have lost 2 in my lifetime). Losing my dad, followed by my dog 18 days later, was probably the hardest thing I have faced so far in my life.

Tappy was more than just a pet. She was my family; my baby. I took care of her for over 5 years, and it was not enough time. Those 5 years were the best years of my life with her; she was able to comfort me through some terrible losses in that time, and add an immense amount of joy to my world. Her constant love and companionship was something I relied on daily; that’s why I think losing her really sent me over the edge in a way that losing my dad didn’t quite do. When you are so used to taking care of a pet, used to them being in your home 24/7, used to feeling their presence constantly….it is something that does not disappear overnight.

I felt constantly lost. I hated coming home to my apartment knowing full-well that she would not be there to greet me with her beautiful face, her goofy whine, her silly running sprees, and her unending amount of kisses/cuddles. I cried myself to sleep nightly, and hated the thought of living in a world where she wasn’t present. It is still a thought that troubles me, to be truthful.

I will not go into details about her passing; it is something that haunts me, and will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. All I can say is that on that day, I was able to be with her as she crossed that rainbow bridge, and I am grateful that she was in her home with her mama.

The amount of love my little dog gave to me is something I cannot put into words. Sitting here reflecting on it and trying to think of a way to describe her….I simply cannot. If you knew Tappy, however, you know exactly what I mean.

Part of an exercise I was assigned in therapy was to write Tappy a goodbye letter. Last week, I was able to accomplish that, and read it out loud with her collar in the room. It was cathartic; it was emotional; it was bittersweet.

I do not want to fully disclose the contents of my goodbye to her – I feel that it is something deeply personal and it is something I would rather cherish with her (and my therapist…and probably my mother). To quickly summarize, however, I recounted the story of how my best friend and I went to the shelter and that the day I found her I knew I had to have her. She was the answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had, and she was exactly what I needed in my life. In my letter, I wrote some of my favorite memories and aspects about her, and I let her know just how much she meant to me.

I lost the furry half of my heart the day I lost Tappy. Reflecting upon the month of July is painful for me – I lost 2 huge parts of my life in less than a month. Still, every day can be a struggle; I cry at random times in the day when a memory hits me. Sometimes I will laugh and be so happy, and it is incredulous to me that in those moments I can forget how much pain I am still in.

They say time is the best healer – I suppose I’m learning that this is true. It’s a really hard truth to face; but slowly and surely, I am facing it. Through her short nearly-5 1/2 year life with me, she gave me enough love and affection to last for years to come. It just still feels like I was prematurely robbed of the opportunity to experience her love and her presence in my life for a few more years to come.

Tappy Lou…you will always have my heart. I cannot wait to see you when I cross over to the other side – I know that you, Gracie and Groucho will all be waiting there for me, tails wagging and ready to greet me with open paws.


No Fourth of July has ever burned so brightly.

It’s been 3 long months since I’ve posted. In reality, what I’ve gone through the past couple of months is something that most people go through in a much longer time period. I haven’t felt much like sharing, or bringing everything out in the open, but now I feel ready. First I will start with the first of my 3 largest life-changing events of this year (of my life, really).

I woke up on July 4 expecting it to be an ordinary day. I woke up early to go get my run packet for the Four on the Fourth 4-mile run I had signed up to do. Sadly, I was still in a walking boot for my ankle and couldn’t compete in the race, so I had to change my entry to a virtual entry to be completed at a later date…oh, by the way – I fractured my left ankle doing an obstacle course 10 days after my last blog post. So, really, I guess 4 major events have happened since I last updated. Whoops. Regardless, just tack that on to the list…

Anyway. I came home from picking up my packet and editing my race entry, and really wanted to take a nap prior to working some holiday hours from home. For some reason, I just really couldn’t sleep..kept feeling disturbed. In hindsight, I’m very aware why.

I woke from a slight doze to my boyfriend telling me I needed to call my mom right away. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I called her, and the words, “Calli, I’m sorry, but your dad passed away this morning,” came out of her mouth. My whole world was rocked.

How did this happen? How on earth did a day that started off relatively normally so quickly become derailed? I laid on my couch sobbing, howling in a way I have never heard myself yell before. With Tappy licking me and cuddling me, and with my boyfriend rubbing my back, there was still no consolation – nothing in the world could bring him back.

My dad had been sick off and on for 10 years; he was a fighter, and he just never gave up. Through the countless hospital stays, rehabilitation center stays, medication, procedures, etc…he endured. So, in reality, his passing wasn’t a complete shock. However, it’s because of how much of a trooper he was, how long he kept fighting, that it really was still a shock. How could something I had been preparing myself mentally for for so long still come as such a surprise?

There is absolutely nothing in this world that can prepare you for that phone call; prepare you for the flood of emotions that overcome you.

I was 26 years old, and I had lost my father.

No girl my age (or younger) should ever have to go through the process of losing a parent so young. Losing a parent is inevitable; it is a natural part of life. Losing a parent so early, however, is not something anyone should have to endure.

Gone were my hopes of having a man someday ask him for my hand in marriage; gone were my hopes of having my daddy walk me down the aisle; gone were my visions of him dancing with me at my wedding to “Butterfly Kisses”, which had been our song since I was 6 years old. Gone were so many hopes and dreams I had of him being present in my life; things I don’t even know that are yet to come, that he will miss because he is on the other side of this life.

To say that my dad and I had the perfect relationship would be a stretch. When he and my mom separated in high school, our relationship suffered a bit of a strain. However, through time, we had repaired old wounds. I didn’t talk to him daily, or see him nearly as much as I wish I had. So many regrets when it comes to our relationship the past few years. But, there wasn’t ever any doubt, I loved my daddy and he loved his baby girl.

He left this world fighting; he left this world after having given so much of his time and energy helping others, and giving me so many examples of what a true man is. He worked so hard, loved to have fun, gave so much to others, and refused to fully quit anything.

There are many memories I have of my dad that I will cherish forever. The purpose of this blog entry isn’t necessarily to reminisce, however, but to focus on my path of healing and moving forward.

In the past few months, I have learned that life is truly short. You can never really count on tomorrow coming; it is best to say what you feel and cherish what you have while you have it. There’s unfortunately no other lesson that teaches this better than death.

It’s poetic that my dad passed away on his favorite holiday; the Fourth of July was always his favorite time of year. He loved hanging out down at our beach, grilling and smoking meats, shooting off fireworks, and spending quality time with family and friends. That is how I choose to remember him – smiling, laughing, and shining radiantly like a firework that inevitably had to burn out. Now, every time I see a fireworks display, I know he is with me.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will see my dad again someday. When that day comes, who is to say – but I will be very glad to see him, whenever that may be.

In closing, I would also like to add that were it not for such an amazing support system in my life, I would not have been able to fight through this. Though this is just one of the three major events I have experienced in these past couple of months, this was definitely a hard one to process. My family and friends were so supportive and helpful in this time, and I just hope they truly know it did not go unnoticed.

RIP, daddy. I love you so much.

Anger after death.

I’m just going to jump right into this one.

I’ve been struggling off and on with quite a few things lately; one of the main ones being that, nearly 2 years after my grandmother passed away, her estate was finally settled in the most drug-out, slap-in-the-face way possible.

Kind of hard to explain, really; a long story full of secrets and betrayal with an extremely sad ending.

For the past 2 months I have had a few boxes of my grandma’s personal belongings sitting in my apartment. With circumstances, and the way things ended, my emotions were too high for me to really care to start going through them.

Around the end of January I finally started to go through them. They’ve been taking up space in my guest bedroom, being the literally huge elephant in the room that I can’t ignore, but kept trying to. As I started going through them, however, there were so many things I discovered even by just going through one full box that I didn’t even know how to comprehend.

I saw a side of my grandma in photos that I didn’t even know existed; a model, a dancer, a party animal; a beautiful yet wounded person. I saw a life full of memories and wonderful experiences – raising a family, vacations, boating, etc. I saw words written to her by friends and family members through the years about the kind of person she was, the character she had, the great relationships she had built.

It made me happy, sad…and angry. I was deeply hurt that I never truly got to know her. It made me mad that I never had a relationship where we shared much. It was more surface-level; she was a relatively stiff woman, yet here I am reading all of these kind and beautiful sentiments written about her by other people close to her.

Not only did I see a side of my grandma that I didn’t know, but my grandfather, too. He passed away when I was very young – my first grandparent to pass away, actually. I didn’t get the opportunity to know him as well as I could’ve, but he lived until I was 11 and was one of my favorite men in the whole world. He considered me to be the “light of his life,” the “prettiest girl in Kansas City,” and other wonderful things. He was so loving and kind, had such a loud boisterous laugh, gave wonderful hugs and kisses. Of course, at age 11, you don’t get to experience a lot of the depth of a human being. It’s as you grow older and mature that you truly get to know a person for who they are.

His relationship with my grandma, his life before me – none of these things are things I got to learn about from him before he died. And, of course, I didn’t ask my grandma about their relationship, or about her life before me, either – it was all kind of a taboo subject. Much of what I learned about them was either after they had passed, or things I learned that I wasn’t really supposed to know or talk about. Kind of hard to get to know people that way, agree?

I could go on and on for quite awhile about the crazy dynamics of that side of my family; basically this entry is to share my experience. Dealing with death is hard enough; learning things about people after the fact makes you feel like you truly never knew them at all, and makes you wish that you could talk to them to get the story from their perspective. It’s pretty hard to move on when you know you can’t get the full version from the horses’ mouths.

I’m hoping this entry helps me to vent out some of my anger, sadness and frustrations – but I know that this is definitely a life-long process.

In all reality, at least the knowledge that they both loved me in their own ways, and gave me some positive memories to look back on and cherish, is enough for me. But, I will still always wonder…until we meet again.

One year.

It’s pretty incredible how much can change, yet simultaneously remain the same, in the span of one year.

It’s been one year, as of yesterday, that my grandmother passed away, and one year today that I learned the news. It seems like it’s been longer in some aspects, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had the “good fortune” (doesn’t seem like a fitting description, but words are failing me) to be there with her for her last day here on Earth. Our last words exchanged were that we loved one another, leaving not much room for regrets or anything left unsaid.

Regardless of the situation, it’s never easy to lose a loved one. However, in reflection, I am thankful that I was able to have that closure. She is the second grandparent I have lost, and so far I have been lucky in that, with both losses, I have had closure. Not everyone is able to have that when family members pass on.

I suppose this post is not just to commemorate the loss of my grandmother, but to recognize the role that losing a family member/loved one plays in life. It is a necessary evil that we all as humans have to face at some point. When it is a family member who you’re very close to, it can be even harder to process; but even if it’s not the closest relationship, letting go is never easy.

Unfortunately, at 25, I am now at an age where I don’t have much longer to enjoy the company of the grandparents I have left. My paternal grandfather died 14 years ago (as of January of this year), and my paternal grandmother one year ago. I am so thankful that I have both maternal grandparents, as well as two step-grandparents, that I can still spend time with; all are suffering health-wise, however, and I am coming to terms with the fact that they will not be around in my life much longer.

Though they may not physically be present, the lasting memories we have created and the lessons learned from them will stay with me forever. I am a firm believer that “the ones that love us never really leave us,” to quote one of my favorite films (Harry Potter). I know that even though I can no longer see or hear them, I carry them with me in spirit. Even through the times where I fight with accepting their physical absence, that thought can offer some solace.

With death and grief comes lessons; I have learned that I am strong enough to survive losing a loved one, even though the pain can be devastating. I have learned that I need to hold on to the loved ones I have left and cherish the time I have with them every day, whether it’s with a phone call, a visit, or just a kind thought. I have learned that it’s an ongoing process and it ebbs and flows; sometimes grief rears its ugly head when you least expect it, and sometimes you go days without feeling it. But most importantly, I’ve learned that it is manageable. I have been able to connect with others through learning of their own losses, and through discussing my own losses open and honestly. Human connection is one of the most important things, and being able to help others through their own grief is something that can even help to ease your own.

Sorry if this was a somewhat scatterbrained and therapist-like post; but it has helped me to write it. This is my personal blog, after all 😉


I have been thinking about this post for over a week now. Simply because I wasn’t sure whether or not to even write it, what I would say that would even count as a meaningful blog entry, what my feelings even were, how I should be feeling and how to even explain my thoughts.

But, after several days, I have decided to share this story with you.

Last week, I received a phone call saying that one of my ex-boyfriends from high school was found dead in his dorm room where he was stationed in New York. I had not talked with him in nearly seven years. Seven whole years. And yet I found myself on the verge of tears for the whole night, thinking about this person who I remembered as a part of my past, yet knew nothing about as of recent.

I’ll start from the beginning:

Let’s call him “E”. E and I had a…well…complicated relationship. We met when I was about 12 and he was 14 or 15 through family friends. He lived far out of town, and apparently had a crush on me. After meeting him, he got my phone number from a family friend and called me, and we spent a summer talking on the phone through the distance. Eventually we lost touch and both went on with our adolescent years.

When I was about 17, however, I came across E again, we reconnected and started dating. It was a very short relationship, with long distance and our lives leading in different directions. I went to visit him with one of my friends…many things happened on that trip I do not care to share, but needless to say, the relationship was over by the end of the trip. We ended things on a horrible note. I yelled at him, told never wanted to see him again, and I never did. I never will, I should say.

Eventually we did talk a couple more times. No closure was truly gained. I heard E was very upset about the way things had turned out, he told his family that he would never intentionally hurt me, and that was that. We never spoke again.

From what I gather from his/my family is that E eventually had a child, quickly married and divorced, and enlisted in the army. He was deployed, and afterwards he stayed in the army. He had another child and quickly became wrapped up in the more, ahem,”fun” aspects of life. Apparently his party habits and his overall unhappiness caught up with him and his life ended prematurely.

Around the time E first enlisted, my grandma said that I should write him a letter, that she was sure he’d want to hear from me since it had been so long. I was still feeling stubborn and still hurt by what had happened that I said I had no interest in doing so. Looking back now, I can say that is a choice I regret.

Now, to the point of this story. I don’t mean to say that I am in any way not over my relationship with E. I have definitely moved on in life, I enjoy where I am right now and I love the guy I am in a relationship with now. I did, however, regret that I never received full closure from E.

I have always been one of those people that lives as if there is no tomorrow, soaks up every minute (for the most part) and tries to make every day have a little bit (or a lot) of fun in it. I try to never see anything as a regret. I do believe, though, that people do tend to regret the things they don’t do more than the things they do. And one thing I do regret a bit is not writing E a letter. I know that though things ended on bad terms, I would never wish someone ill-will, and I would never wish someone to die. It’s a tragedy that he was unhappy in this life, and it was a tragedy that he didn’t get the chance to see his children grow up. I do wish we could have had the opportunity to communicate and end things on good terms.

So, this is for you, E. Here’s my official closure. I hope you are finally happy and at rest, wherever that may be. I hope that your children grow up to be happy individuals. It is unfortunate the way things ended between us, that we never caught up over the years, that you will never read what I had to say, or hear it from me face to face, but maybe, somehow, you will wind up with this knowledge anyway. I wish you well.



The right to grieve.

I’ve been on an unintentional blog hiatus. My deepest apologies; I haven’t had too much to write about until recently, but due to being overloaded with work and emotional obligations I’ve been too busy to post.

The past week and a half I have been forced to realize just how short life is because of the untimely passing of someone who was too young. You constantly hear that children are “supposed to” bury their parents, that it’s the “natural order” of things. It’s not something you think you’ll be doing at the ripe age of 23, however.

One of my best friends had to say goodbye to her mother less than two weeks ago, something that shocked all of us closest to her. Your parents are people that are supposed to be around forever, people that will always be there to answer your questions when you need them or to help you out when you need it. Losing one is something that shouldn’t happen until you’re older and have had years to appreciate them and all that they have done for you.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. I can’t even imagine what my friend and her family are going through right now, which is why I have been challenged, emotionally-speaking, the last week and a half. I have been grieving in my own way, feeling a little out-of-balance and upset. At first I was really conflicted. I didn’t believe I had the right to grieve. She wasn’t a family member of mine, she wasn’t close to me; sure I had met her several times, and I have several fond memories of her, but she wasn’t mine to grieve.

I expressed these feelings to one of my friends, to which she replied: “Sometimes I think we feel guilty for grieving, but everyone has the right to grieve.”

That made me think a bit.

Not only was I grieving for my friend and her family, I was grieving for myself. And I had/have the right to. Sure, she wasn’t my family; but she’s someone that had been a part of my life, even if for a brief time. It’s never easy losing anyone, no matter how big or small a role they played in your life. The right to grieve for the loss of a person is something everyone has, and something that no one should ever feel guilty about.

My grandmother has always been an advocate of taking responsibility for and power over your own emotions, and not allowing anyone else to tell you otherwise. I guess this is an area in which her advice really applies, and I should’ve listened to her sooner.

So, as a conclusion; I will allow myself to feel these emotions without feeling guilty about it. After all, feelings and emotions are part of what make us human, right? So, as a basic human right, it is something I will take responsibility for and power over, and I will not feel guilty for doing so. Everyone handles things differently in life; it’s up to you to decide how you want to think about, feel about or react to those circumstances.