The Year of Dad

How has it already been a year? It felt as though time was moving like molasses, but here we are a year later.

I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that he's gone, it still doesn't feel real - like he's just been on a long trip and in a couple days he'll be walking through the door saying "hey peach pie!". Sadly, I know I won't be hearing his voice anytime soon. For the first time in a long time, I kind of feel like I'm at a loss for words (which I'm sure most of you know, that doesn't happen often), but I'm struggling to write how I really feel.

Summer will now always be a difficult time for me as I reflect back on last year's events. His birthday, soon after the heart attack and then the 10 days of us holding onto any hope we could muster up, followed by his passing and the funeral. Perhaps starting a brand new job just days after wasn't my best call, but I could hear his voice inside my head say "peach, you need to go to work - don't sit around and feel sorry for me!"

As anyone who has suffered great loss would know that grief is not a linear path. It literally changes by the minute. Some days I feel on top of the world, I feel strong, empowered and like he's standing right beside me holding my hand. Other days I feel extremely empty, doing anything not to burst into tears in public (which I've done many times and there's nothing wrong with it). I am not writing this post for sympathy by any means, I just think it's important to share and reflect on what's happened.

As hard as this year has been, there have been a lot of wonderful things that have happened as well, and as my mom would say we've worked hard to bring the joy back into our lives. When my dad passed last year I vowed that I would do whatever possible to continue his legacy through my work. A fire was lit under my ass as I learned first hand that life is too fucking short to not go after things you want and do what you want to do - cliche, but VERY true. I took this as an opportunity to prove to myself that I am in fact strong, resilient and willing to do whatever it takes to follow my passion.

Thinking back to my dad's visitation last year still warms my heart. Over 1000 people came through the funeral home to pay their respects and share the many things they loved about my dad. We heard "you know, Joe was my best friend" from probably 100 different people, but that was my dad! He made everyone feel as though they were family and we were lucky enough to connect and meet with all those people we would not have otherwise met. Seeing the outpour of love was such a beautiful way to see that my dad's legacy will in fact live on forever and through so many people. This loss has made me rethink the way I listen to others, how tightly I hug,  the way I talk to strangers - it's changed everything.

It's unfortunate that we have to suffer in order to learn such important life lessons, but I believe that's the only way they'd truly stick. I made a promise to my dad that wherever I go, I'll go with my heart and I don't intend to break that. Because of him, I listen a little closer, hug a little longer and dream a little bigger. Because of him, I watch WAY more Food Network than I could've ever imagined and I now cry at commercials just as he did. If that's the part of his legacy I continue then so be it.

I'm well aware I'll always hurt a little bit and I'll always feel this empty pit in my stomach - it's just life now, but I will never let that stop me from doing what I truly love because that's exactly what he'd want. Though we have survived our year of "firsts" I anticipate some of my most painful days are still yet to come. I feel like I've let myself grieve, but openly admit I spent a large portion of this year suppressing how I really feel.

I understand that things won't get easier, but we will continue to get stronger and find more ways to honour him. From Sauble Beach celebrations to his favourite pasta dinners, we will continue to spread his legacy in all that we do. A massive thank you for all the love and support this past year. Not one message, thought or hug went unnoticed and we got through a very difficult time because of all the incredible people were surrounded with.

This year I cried, loved, hugged, and grew more than I could've ever imagined in 365 days, and I did it all with a very strong and powerful guardian angel behind me. I know you're around Pops, in every monarch butterfly I see, every feather I find and every episode of Diners, Drive-Inn's and Dives that I watch.

Pops, your peach pie loves you.

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but woven into the lives of others."