I’m Alive…

I’m Alive…

“How are you?”

What used to be a passing nicety is now a loaded question.

“How are you?”

Some days the answer is easy. Other days, not so much. While it’s been over a month since my father passed away, it still feels raw. I think people think I should be “back to normal” by now. But I’m guessing those people haven’t lost a parent. They don’t know that there’s no going back. There’s only trying to figure out a new way to move forward.

How am I?

I’m ok. Other than the fact that I wake up each morning feeling like there’s a brick on my chest. I can’t quite catch my breath with all that pressure, and I don’t really know how I can stand up against the weight that I’m carrying. But I do.

I’m fine. Other than being bizarrely jealous of my kids and the fact that they can cry about butter and band-aids and everything else that’s nothing in particular. But not me. I’m supposed to be calm and composed. (Supposed to be.)

I’m plugging along. Even if it’s at a rate that leaves me with 522 unread emails each night, dozens of unreturned phone calls and a to-do list of epic proportions.

I’m grateful. For the sweet and funny memories people from every stage of my life have shared with me about my dad. For the people who have said that they see a bit of my dad in me. For the lessons my dad taught me, and a whole lot of other people, it turns out. For the wonderful friends who are keeping my mom company. For Big’s compassion that mirrors my dad’s. For Little’s like-minded, not-so-innocent approach to thrill seeking. For Pink’s beautiful dimple that makes her smile shine, just like his did.

I’m remembering. Even though the blanket I used to sleep by his side no longer smells like him. I’m trying to make him proud. Though sometimes my positive attitude is a lot less positive and a lot more attitude these days.

But mostly, I’m singing. Because there’s a Kenny Chesney song he loved that so deeply expressed how he felt as he struggled through each new challenge along the way. So I’m singing it. Through tears. With a smile. And I figure if I sing it enough, I’ll feel it. And live it. The way he so honorably did.

So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars
That I’m alive and well

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing, can’t you see?
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive and well
I’m alive and well

How am I? I’m alive. And well. Or getting there, at least.



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  1. Bettie Garrison says

    Dear Amy, You’re so elequent. And I’m so proud of you. You are a fantastic combination of both your mom and your dad. Even though it’s been too many years since we’ve seen you and your family, It still resonates with me the strong, sweet love you all had for each other. I feel what you’re going through. I lost my dad very suddenly (massive heart attack) when I was 20 and a junior in college. Even today I miss him. The really neat thing is how I see him living on in Matt and Justin, and in my nephews. One day the heavy heart will give way to a mellow heart that will allow you to really smile and laugh and rejoice that God gave you such a wonderful Dad. My love to you. Give your mom a big hug from me, and Brian too. Bettie

  2. Amy Nelson says

    I know there is nothing I can say or do to help take the pain away. No one expects you to be fine, losing your father is something that will take a long time to heal. It is hard being a mom and trying to stay strong for your kids 24/7, but it is ok to cry. What I can say is I am here for you, whether it is to talk, cry or laugh. If you need a break to catch your breath call me and I can come get the kids for a play date! I am here for you, thinking of you!

  3. Linda says

    Amy N. couldn’t have expressed my own thoughts any better. How wonderful that you can keep your dad’s spirit alive just by looking at your 3 beautiful children. Any time you need a break, just send those little munchkins over to pull weeds and hunt for snails! Take deep breaths and talk to your Dad….he can hear you. I’m convinced my Mom hears me when I need to talk to her…

  4. says

    Amy, thanks for being honest with us… and therefore, keeping us in check. Since (in my opinion) you’re a big time blogger, many of us “expect” to go to your page and find you there with your posts and comments per the usual. But you’re right, we’re not in your shoes, and we need to be reminded of what your shoes feel like – both in the joys and frustrations of motherhood AND as a grieving daughter. It is this honesty that helps us learn and grow and individuals, readers, and friends (both close and remote). And again, thank you for the reminder and (ahem) keeping it real. xoxo

    • says

      Well, I’m definitely keepin’ it real. Too real perhaps. But I appreciate your thoughts (especially the ‘big time’ one—I’ll take an ego boost any way I can get one).

    • says

      I’m so sad to know that you’re now going through this next step with me now as well, but, like me, you have an amazing man to remember and continue to make proud. Your brother sounded truly wonderful and what a blessing that he could touch so many people’s lives in much too short of a time.

  5. Linda W. says

    What a beautiful post and one I can certainly identify with. It’s been 30 years since my dad passed away after a very quick (6 weeks) and aggressive bout with pancreatic cancer. I had just turned 17. I can honestly say there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him or that I’m not reminded of him in some way. Sometimes my kids will ask me a question about him and my eyes well up in tears like it was yesterday that I lost him. The pain doesn’t really go away, it just remains quiet until it is stirred again. Giving into it is the only way to move through this time. One foot in front of the other :) Sending big hugs to you.
    xo, Linda (aka CG)

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It’s so sad to hear how many friends can relate, but it’s comforting to know that people like you understand and have survived the hard times too. May you continue to share wonderful stories about your dad with your kids…that’s definitely something I want to be sure to do throughout the years ahead. (Especially for the little ones who aren’t likely to have memories of him as they grow up.) Hugs to you too, my friend!

  6. Vanessa says

    This couldn’t be more true, and I thank you for writing it. Slippery slope, that innocent question. My hair stylist ask me how I was not two hours ago, and I could see after my (obviously way too) honest answer that perhaps that wasn’t what she was expecting to hear. I certainly hope you yourself don’t expect you to be “back to normal” and anyone who does clearly has been lucky enough to have avoided thus far losing someone so dear. Be gentle with yourself, and kind. It’s awful and scary and hard. And it just takes time.

  7. Jessica Ashley (Sassafrass) says

    Amy, I feel your pain. And I hear your joys and sorrow and hopes and memories. Thank you for sharing all of it. Xo

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