Yesterday was HARD! Like REALLY HARD!!! Every single time I said the word “DAD” I cried. If I saw a picture of him I cried. The thought of not having anymore pictures of my dad with us broke my heart. The thought that his voice was fading in my memory hurt!!!
I got up yesterday morning and went to physical therapy and faced the reality that my body has gone backwards a lot. Having 2 doctors tell me I’m in a constant panic attack state made me worried for myself. How am I going to get control of myself? How am I going to face the reality that my dad is gone and be alright with that? I keep thinking my dad is going to come back. He’s going to be there. I’m going to have more conversations with him. I’m going to hug him again here on Earth and hear him say, “I love you sweetheart.” How in the world can I face the truth that these things won’t happen again?
I tried to write my dad a letter yesterday. I tried. It didn’t work. I sobbed. I wanted to share with him my feelings face to face. I didn’t want to write something that I couldn’t really tell him. That came to an end.
Last night around midnight I couldn’t handle it anymore. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t calm down. I asked Rick for a priesthood blessing. Rick and I visited and I shared so many thoughts with him before the priesthood blessing. Through the priesthood blessing the spirit was felt so strongly and I sobbed. I wanted to believe the things that were shared, but oh the pain, could that move out of the way so I could feel the things that were said. Is it possible to feel peace and accept my dad is gone all at the same time?
This weekend is a baseball tournament and we were leaving Thursday to go out of town. For me Heaven on Earth is Logan / Bear Lake and that’s where the tournament is. Yesterday we decided to take one extra day and get away and relax and hope to clear our minds.
TODAY - TODAY is 1 month since my dad passed away. It’s been the hardest month of my life. The worst month of my life. I’d go through anything, anything - I’d go through all of the hell I went through in my childhood and teenage years to have my dad back. It’s not supposed to be like this. It can’t be like this, BUT IT IS!
In my priesthood blessing last night I was told there would be angels on Earth that would chat, message, come and see me right when I needed them. I would know they were there for me. This morning a friend I’ve not chatted with for awhile chatted with me today. He wrote something about the Lord helping me as I was writing to him about how the Lord would help him. We sent out chats and I felt the spirit so strong. I knew he was an angel in my life right when I needed him. It helped me look at today differently. He’s always come into my life, messaged, said the right things - he’s very in tune and such a blessing.
I went and got blood work done and the lady who drew my blood was so kind. It was like I just felt happy for the first time in a long time. Then I went over to my mom’s and it was just she and I. Just my mom and I - that doesn’t happen hardly ever and we had a great visit. It was another, just what I needed.
Then we packed up and headed to Logan. A most beautiful place. A place that my dad taught me to love so much. So many fond memories of Logan and Bear Lake growing up. As we drove into Logan I just felt peace. My heart rate finally came down. I was laughing and we’ve had so much fun together. It’s been everything I needed. It’s a day, the first day I’ve not sobbed in a long time. The tears have come tonight as I’ve written this and reflected on this last month, but with a different peace. That somehow, someway I’ll get through this. I’ll be alright. I’ll feel my dad with me. I’m not sure how, I’m not sure when the tears will stop, when the heartache will calm down and when I’ll feel whole again, honestly maybe not, but I’ll be alright. I am surrounded by love here on Earth and with Angels on the other side.
"I’m jealous of the angels - those you’re with. Why can’t you be here with us? "
I’m jealous of the angels - those you’re with. Why can’t you be here with us? It’s been a month. Dad, how have you been gone for a month? When are you going to walk back in the door? Sit in your chair? Kick your feet up on another chair and visit with us? When are you going to give me another hug? There will be a day. . .I don’t know when, but there will be a day we will be together again and until then I’ll have to hold onto the little pieces of peace that come.
I love you dad! One month down and so many more to go. . .
Over the years I’ve read all different kinds of quotes and things about dad’s being in heaven and what people would give for one more hug, one more visit, one more. . .
I’ve felt the sentiments and thought that would be so hard and I’ve thought yes, for sure and done a little reflecting on my life and thought ya, I’m doing good.
My dad always loved deep doctrine. He studied the scriptures in depth and talked a lot about the second coming, which would stress me out. I’ve never felt ready for the second coming. My dad would sit in his chair and he would ask these deep doctrine questions and I would say, “Dad, if I can’t get to Heaven on basics, I’m not getting to Heaven.” Then he’d proceed to talk about these deep concepts and I’d tune him out. Luckily Rick would engage in those conversations so I had an out.
Then we’d start talking about childhood or past memories and he’d remember things so much differently than I did. I’d be like dad, really? Sometimes we’d laugh and then we’d agree to disagree and sometimes we’d both be like well, you’re wrong or you’re wrong - lol. Never contentious, but just remembered differently.
My dad liked things done a certain way and he liked things done promptly and if he was in the middle of a project or an idea it worked best to jump in and help him right then or there might be some frustration. He was amazing at getting things done and his ideas always happened, but sometimes I’d be like dad not right now or we’d do what he wanted and then there was stress on the other side of things when we were done helping him. Couldn’t beat his enthusiasm for life and projects.
My dad had a very soft voice. He didn’t like talking loudly. He wanted everyone to notice when he was ready to do something. Often when he’d give priesthood blessings you’d have to listen extremely closely or you didn’t hear him. When it was time for dinner he’d just fold his arms and sit there and wait until we all quieted down for the prayer. For family home evening with 46 people he would sit on his stool and watch everyone talking and visiting and laughing. We’d say dad are you ready to start a family home evening and he would say yes, I’m just waiting for everyone to quiet down. Quite often this would frustrate me. I’d say dad, just speak up and tell everyone you’re ready and we’ll quiet down for you. He would say, “I’ll just wait.”
"I’d give anything to walk in my parent’s home and see him sitting in his chair at the end of the table or standing by the fireplace and say hi dad."
We’d play Acquire game almost every week. This is a game we’ve played since I was a teenager. He would say things that would give away what others were doing. He’d do his own funny things that would sometimes frustrate my mom or any of us at any time, but he’d smile and we’d all smile - that was my dad.
Today I read this and it brought tears to my eyes. Now these sayings about dad being in heaven dig deep at my heart. It brings such pain and sadness. There is a hole in my life that I can’t fill. No matter how much my dad drove me crazy and did things that sometimes would drive me crazy or frustrate me I’d give ANYTHING - I promise ANYTHING, to experience all of these things again and I’d love them. I’d not take for granted his excitement, depth of doctrine, his quiet demeanor, the things he would say during a game and I’d jump at his requests anytime and not stress about the other things in my life. I didn’t treasure these things as much as I should have when he was here and honestly, I didn’t think about what if today is the last day very often. I took these things for granted. I had so much to learn from him.
I’d give anything to walk in my parent’s home and see him sitting in his chair at the end of the table or standing by the fireplace and say hi dad. I’d love to see his smile and hear his laughter again here on Earth. I’d definitely chat with him a little longer and treasure his childlike excitement about family history and planning his 50th Anniversary. I promise, cherish your dad. Cherish your mom. Cherish your closest relationships.
The most true statement in this quote is “You’ll never know the heartache until you see his empty chair.” I walk in my parents home now and see his hat, computer, notes from a talk he gave just a few weeks earlier, his treats in his headboard, the book he was reading and I can’t explain the heartache I feel. Sometimes I have to remind myself to breath and that I probably won’t die from a broken heart, but it sure feels like it.
Friday, November 4, 2011 a friend of mine and I were in charge of a big holiday school auction. It was a big event and usually we’d raise over $10,000 for school programs. At the end of the night we’d load everything up and a lot of it would be dumped into my home. Dishes to be done, things to be delivered to people, things that didn’t sell that we needed to work through how to sell those things, etc. My house would be a big mess and I was exhausted.
Saturday, November 5th we worked on getting things cleaned up and had lots of other things going on.
Sunday, November 6th we went over to my parents for Sunday dinner. I was super tired and really in a more grumpy mood. We usually play Acquire, but I wasn’t in the mood and I still distinctly remember leaving my parents home not happy, no hugs and not really saying goodbye. My comment was I’ll play Acquire another week.
Monday, November 7th around 7:20 a.m. I got a call from my sister that lived at my parents home that my dad had a cardiac arrest and the paramedics couldn’t get him to breath and they had headed off to the hospital. I was in complete shock!!! I walked around my house getting ready to head over to the hospital saying perfect faith and praying with all my heart that he would make it through. I also found myself completely regretting that I didn’t stay and play Acquire with my dad and mom and brother. I kept saying please give me that one more time to play games with my dad.
I spent every single day at the hospital with my mom and many of my siblings and spouses and nieces and nephews just waiting, praying and hoping for something good to come for my dad. The doctor wasn’t optimistic. My dad had pretty much gone 45 minutes without oxygen and there was significant damage to his brain. They kept telling us that if he lived he’d always be a vegetable. It was the worst experience and feeling. I wanted my dad back sooooo bad.
Miracle upon miracle happened and November 30th my dad returned home walking himself into their house. He was a walking miracle. I would go over every single day and spend time with him. I remember my dad and I going to Deseret Book together and we had so much fun together. So many conversations and wonderful experiences together. I remember the first time we played Acquire again and it was emotional. It was the greatest blessing ever and I remember thinking I’m not going to have this regret again.
Over the years I’ve spent lots of time with my dad. We’ve gone to family activities, holidays, watched sports together, played games, vacations and the list goes on. My boys have had so many treasured conversations and time with their grandpa.
Over the last year or so with Covid and working through many of my personal experiences from my past there became more of a distance again with my family. We didn’t spend as much time together. Gratefully we’d still play Acquire and do some things together, but not nearly as often as before. I found myself enjoying more time at home and in my own space. I’ve been more reserved and more pulled back from things. I think Covid brought a lot of that in me.
July 16th Brayden and Sarah got engaged! This was a day that my dad had lived for a very long time. Every single time we’d see him he’d ask when they were going to get engaged. His excitement was childlike. I’d often tell my dad let them be - don’t put so much pressure on them. They got engaged and then they went over to my parents to tell them. They were so excited and my parents were so excited. The joy on my dad’s face was priceless. There was lots of laughter, visiting and excitement for their wedding day.
Besides that excitement my dad was asking me about some school pictures they couldn’t find. He was working on their 50th Anniversary and was wanting some things. I sat down and looked at some of my pictures from teenage years and that brought some anxiety and emotions for me. I was frustrated in a way. I didn’t want to focus on this - some of these memories were really hard memories for me. Very painful. I wanted to focus on the excitement of Brayden and Sarah. As we left I gave my parents hugs and said goodbye, but inside I was frustrated.
On Sunday, July 18th it normally would have been a Sunday we would go over to the Hardman’s, but they were out of town so we went over to my families for dinner. I had brought over what my dad wanted and we reflected on some fun memories and laughed. We played Acquire and had a great evening. We visited about his sadness of losing one of his best friends and that he was going to be speaking at his funeral and how hard that would be. I loved that evening, because it was all real. Many heartfelt feelings. It was a great night. A night I will never forget. NEVER!
I remember leaving my parents and my dad giving me a hug and saying, “I love you sweetheart” and feeling those words so deeply. I remember thinking I love my dad so much! I’m so grateful for the relationship we have. That would be the last time I heard my dad say those words to me.
"I remember leaving my parents and my dad giving me a hug and saying, “I love you sweetheart” and feeling those words so deeply. "
Rick and I and the boys had a vacation that next week and by the time we got back in town my dad, mom and sister were sick. There were suggestions of going over and putting notes on their bedroom window, calling dad and telling him to get up and move a little bit - his oxygen was really bad. Some did go over, but we didn’t, we were too busy.
Then my dad was in and out of the hospital once and then 4 days later he went back to the hospital and then a couple of days later he was gone. He hadn’t passed away, but was unconscious and not doing well. His organs were failing and we were losing him.
That was the worst feeling!!! I wished I had spent more time with him. I wished I would have, should have, could have. . .the thoughts were flooding my mind and so much regret. He lived less than 5 minutes away. Why had it been a month since I had seen him. I had lots of reasons, but it still hurt!!!
It’s taken me a few weeks to get past those feelings and to reflect on the amazing Sunday night and text exchanges that my dad and I had. I’m so grateful our last exchange wasn’t the night that he was excited about pictures and I wasn’t. I’m grateful that things came full circle and the last time I saw my dad I played Acquire with him. We shared family memories and had cherished time. I’m so grateful I felt of my dad’s love through his hug and words. I wish I could hear those words and feel of his hugs now, but for now I’ll have to cherish what I had and no regrets!
Over the last year I’ve had a dear friend that would say to me when I was struggling or scared to try something new, “I’ve got you.” Those words would pierce my heart and it was like yep, these words are true and I’m safe to face my fears or try something new. I’ve always been so grateful when this friend would say these words to me - they are magic and mean a lot to me. It was like that safety net that I needed to keep spreading my wings to fly and grow.
Over the last several weeks I’ve been more closed down and close relationships haven’t been my strength. I’ve been super scared to love and be close to people for the fear of loss again. Who else am I going to lose in my life? I lost my dad when I needed him here so badly. There’s definitely been some dents put into some of my closer relationships over the last month and its hurt even more.
The double bind over the last few weeks is when I’ve really needed to hear those words the most, “I’ve got you”, I haven’t. It’s one of those friendships that have taken a hit over the last several weeks and it hurts, hurts terribly bad.
Yesterday I had a few meetings, counseling, Zach’s car accident, baseball, Tanner’s piano and the list went on. None of it was bad and for the normal Cheri that would be nothing, but for the broken Cheri right now it was a lot, in reality, too much. Today I had a couple of other meetings and other commitments and then I looked at the rest of my week and will be starting to work again and have many things on my calendar the rest of the week. I also knew I wasn’t feeling well so I checked my vitals - heart rate: 124, oxygen: 84, glucose: 146. Yep, I needed to slow the flow.
I knew I didn’t have it in me to do all of these things so this morning I decided to clear my schedule. Today was a ME DAY! I don’t think I’ve EVER done that before, but today was a new start for ME. The feeling I kept having was to BE STILL. My anxiety has been through the roof and emotions, well, I’m not sure when the tears are going to stop. My brain, ya, it’s not slowed down - its on overload with the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve and what could I have done better, changed so I wasn’t in this situation?
After figuring out vehicles today I ended up with my dad’s truck. I miss him so much. I kept thinking go to the cemetery. GO!!!! Say a prayer before you go and go. So, I gathered tissues, water bottle, sunglasses and keys and headed to the truck. I literally ran my hands over the steering wheel thinking my dad’s hands touched this steering wheel so many times and it meant he was working so hard.
As I drove home I found myself saying out loud “I’ve got you Cheri!”
I turned on “Visiting Hours” by Ed Sheeran as I drove over to the cemetery. It was time for my visiting hour with my dad. I know his spirit’s not there, but as I know my dad, his body, is there. I wanted to be close to him.
I walked over to where he’s buried and I cried. I was speaking out loud, why dad, why did you have to go. I need you here. I want a hug. I want to hear the words I love you from you. This isn’t fair. After a little bit I went to the truck and I felt to play the song that we were singing as a family when he passed away. I Feel My Savior’s Love by the Tabernacle Choir. I rolled down the window facing where he’s buried and played the song. I felt my Savior’s love, I felt my dad’s love - not the way I want it, but I felt his love.
As I drove home I found myself saying out loud “I’ve got you Cheri!” At first I thought I was saying that to myself. I was trying to show confidence in myself. That I’ve got myself. I need that confidence in myself, I struggle to feel confident in myself. Then a thought became clear as day came to me, “I’ve got you too.” My Heavenly Father, Savior and MY DAD have got me. “I’ve got you Cheri!” I’m not alone. I’ve got the greatest strength in my life on my team, with me, carrying me, loving me and helping me get through this hell that I’m experiencing right now.
As I drove home I felt levels of peace coming - level by level that I’d get through this. I’ve got the tools, I’ve got my team.
The timing was perfect for me to pick up Tanner and go to lunch with him. He had just gotten out of Seminary and he read a scripture to me about take comfort and he shared how it’s been hard to find comfort with the loss of grandpa.
We had an amazing lunch together! Completely focused on one another, sharing feelings, crying together. “I’ve got you Tanner!” I love you! Love your mom!
I woke up this morning with a question repeating over and over in my mind. . .where is my power?
As I pondered this question I thought, I don’t like power. I’ve had too many that had power over me, authority that caused me to feel weak and not able to break out of so many abusive situations. I thought I don’t want power.
Alright, so if its not power then what is it that I need within myself? As I asked myself this question I thought I need strength, that’s what its taken to face the abuse, work through things and to work on myself to become the person I’ve come to love over the last year and a half.
So, then I asked myself this morning, where is my strength? Who holds the strength for myself?
Over the last year and a half of counseling I started out super weak. I had been super strong pretty much all of my life. I kept the pain deep inside, the experiences were under lock and key and no one knew my whole journey, except for me, not even my husband. I lived a life of perfection. A life of accomplishing much and whatever I did I made sure it was done correct and well. I served in the community and my family was very involved. I felt that I could live my whole life this way - I could keep the dark secrets hidden and live this great life and no one would know.
That’s not the case. Eventually my health, stresses of life, too much all at once came crashing in. I had no strength anymore. I was super weak. I had nothing. Not my health, not my emotional health, no trust, spirituality was struggling - I was completely worn out and I didn’t know where to turn.
I started counseling and I had decided its time to just dump. I was ready to just face it all and get moving on with my life. I didn’t realize how hard that would be. I didn’t realize there would be nights that I wouldn’t get sleep, because of the nightmares. I didn’t realize the changes that would come within my home and my marriage. Who did I trust? Where did I find my strength?
I kept the pain deep inside, the experiences were under lock and key and no one knew my whole journey, except for me, not even my husband.
The Lord blessed me with a stranger, an unknown friend to come into my life. There was a trust built. Alright, there’s my strength. This person that I found myself trusting. I was safe. They would bring the strength into my life, because I was sure I didn’t have it within me. How could I believe that it was within myself, with all of the abuse and issues from that I didn’t really have a belief in myself.
That friendship has continued on, but about 5 months into that friendship they moved on with their life. They were still there, but the dynamics had changed and I was scared that my strength had been taken away. It was an extremely difficult time for me.
Through this transition the Lord blessed me with an eternal friend - a family that will always be an eternal family to me. Has blessed my life to be a grandma and brings me ultimate joy. This friend, sister, is there for me daily at any moment. She is a great strength to me, but she has seen the wisdom in being there for me, but helping me seek to see the strength in myself. Sometimes its not what I want to be told - I need others to be my strength - I just know that I don’t have the internal strength - that’s what I’ve been told. That means I’ve got to dig deep and love myself - do I love myself?
Just under a year ago a very special person came into my life. It all had to come as a blessing from the Lord, because my nature and where I was at in life would not have brought this person into my life. This friend made me laugh all of the time. I would be uptight, stressed, not want to part with stuff, feel overwhelmed and they would lighten the situation. Helped me relax. Relax in a way that I didn’t think was possible. Not only did this friend make me laugh and relax, but would challenge me. I’m one that doesn’t take risks. I feel like I’m barely managing all that I have going on in my life, but for some reason this friend would say hey give this a try or come on you can do this and they way they believed in me I would give it a try. Not only have I tried lots of new things and stepped out of my comfort zone, but I’ve found that’s a better way in life. I’ve wanted to continue to do some of those things. I’ve become a better person. This friend has a special bond with my family and has blessed each one of our lives. We laugh, starburst fights, is loving and believes in me.
Through this last year and a half journey I’ve been able to find strength. I’ve done a lot of healing. I’ve trusted and felt safe. I’ve let people in closer. I’ve come to love so much deeper. My heart is uncaged and open to feel. There has been a freeing feeling through all of this journey. So much more happiness. It’s felt so worth all of the hard times, the excruciating pain and healing that I’ve gone through.
AND THEN. . .my dad got sick. My dad died. He left me. There was nothing I could do to keep him here. As a family, the doctors, everyone did all they could and he left. He died. The pain that has been felt in my body, in my heart has been something I’ve never experienced in my whole life. There were many times that I pleaded with Heavenly Father and said I would go through all of the abuse I went through for years and years again to keep my dad here. Whatever it took - the pain of losing my dad was the worst thing EVER!!!!
I lost my strength. I lost the progress I had made over that year and a half. I had been abandoned. I didn’t have value. There is no way I could be loved. I screamed. The child was lost. I wanted to curl up in a ball and die. I’ve been sure I could die of a broken heart. My anchor - gone! Why didn’t Heavenly Father see what I needed? Did my dad know how much I loved him? Honestly, over the last month I’ve lost the desire to fight for all that I had gained over the last year and a half in counseling. Why did I even try to get better - it was gone in a split second? I’ve not felt safe. Everyone will leave. I’m not worth staying for.
Just as I thought things couldn’t get worse - the tears have flowed hours every single day - it did. This dear friend who lightened my load, made me laugh, believed in me was starting to leave my life. The uncertainty due to some circumstances was a killer. REALLY???? Here was another proof that I wasn’t worth anything. Why did I ever trust that people could love me and stay in my life? Who’s next? Get in line and keep knocking me down and I give up the fight.
Wednesday night I was in shambles. I honestly didn’t know if I could breathe. Rick and I had a great visit and I cried and he was amazing and loving and understanding. Around 12:30 a.m. Rick gave me a priesthood blessing. In the blessing I was told that Heavenly Father knows everything I’m going through. I was told to pour out my heart to my Heavenly Father - share everything. I’ve resisted that lately - I don’t even know what to pray for anymore. I just want my dad back!!!!
Yesterday I couldn’t - I had nothing left. I thought alright, here it goes. I turned everything off and I prayed. I said it all. I cried a lot. I wasn’t happy - in reality I was mad. Really mad. Why??? Why send people into my life so they can leave? Where can I turn for strength?
I woke up this morning and that question. . .where is my power? No, where is my strength? It’s within myself. People can love me, they can be my friends, they can make me laugh, lighten my load, but no matter the loss I’ve got strength. I’m strong. I’ve done a lot of really hard things in my life and different people have been in my life over the years. I pray those I love so much will stay, will be a part of my life to help the journey be better, but no matter what happens I have the STRENGTH for myself with a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who haven’t left me. They’ve not forgotten me. They do know me.
Though the pain is DEEP!!! The tears flow on a regular basis and I have so much to learn and so much more growth to go there isn’t anyone that can take away my strength. No one!
A wife and mother of 4 boys and 2 daughter-in-law, I have spent my entire adult life devoted to my family. I have been busy in their schools, supporting them in all of their school work, sporting events, activities, etc. I spent years heavily involved in the PTA, church callings, etc Life for me has always been overwhelmingly busy. While I thought this was my sanity, the truth is it masked issues - real issues - that I needed to work on to gain true sanity. I am sharing my story in this blog. I do this so that I might be able to help other women find their true sanity