Finding Positivity Five Year Later. . .

My youngest son was a couple of months away from turning three when he was seriously injured on January 4, 2015. I started working from home to attend to his increased needs during recovery. His personality seemed to return to normal after a few days. However, I continued to grow emotionally, mentally, and physically worn out. Finding positivity was becoming more and more difficult at this time.

I felt guilt and embarrassment for not keeping him safe. My intense emotions caused a lack of focus on my work projects, and the fear of my jeopardizing my job only increased my stress. I was also physically drained from maneuvering and transporting my son in his heavy cast.

It was more than two weeks before I returned to the office on January 22, 2015. After my work day ended and I ran a couple of errands, I returned home to find that my mother left me two voice messages. I immediately became alarmed. When I returned her call, she informed me that my father had been killed earlier that day.

2014: An Unusual Year

One day, late in May 2014, my dad called and said that he was coming to visit me and my family, and that he would be without his family – my stepmother and half brother and sister. He had been upset and needed a break. He stayed until the begin of June.

Before he left, he added a garden in my backyard. He also made plans to return the next month to celebrate my oldest son’s seventh birthday. I was surprised that he would be coming back so soon, but so happy that he did. It was the first time that he was present for one of my son’s birthday. And since my youngest son was scheduled for surgery a few days later, he extended his stay to accompany us to the hospital.

Memories Heal

These two usual visits were full of so many great memories. I did not have cable at the time of the first visit, and my dad made a request for the movie Deja Vu. He would play this movie, fall asleep to it, and start it all over again, repeatedly. I can’t see that movie, or hear that phrase, without smiling and thinking of him.

During his visits, he told my things about himself that I had never heard before, including a story about him getting hit by a car as a kid. His older brother told him to get a ball that rolled into the street. My dad, listening to his big brother, darted into the street for the ball without looking. His recovery took many long months.

I learned that he was a day manager at a night club while he was stationed in Vietnam. He also commented about the loud (wartime) noises that polluted the environment; this is the only time I remember him speaking about his time in Vietnam. Lastly, I found out that my dad loved table tennis, and had played seriously in many places, including Japan. I loved finding out this jewel of information.

I was surprised that my dad was a serious table tennis player.  Apparently, he was really good. Learning this about him months before his death helps finding positivity a little easier for me.
Photo by Josh Sorenson

Thanks for the Grilled Cheese, Dad!

The last time I saw my dad was at the hospital after my youngest son came out of surgery. My dad then left with the rest of my family and I stayed at the hospital with my son. He returned to Tennessee before my son was released from the hospital.

One of the sweetest and most personal memory from these visits with my dad is that he sent two grilled cheese sandwiches for me to the hospital. He knew that my mind was on my baby and he wanted to make sure that I ate. I always loved his grilled cheese sandwiches, they were one of his specialties. They were still delicious and greatly appreciated even after the 15-20 minutes travel time. Now, any time I make grilled cheese sandwiches, I try to recreate his masterpiece!

Finding Positivity While Dealing with Grief

After five years, I still cry when I think of my dad, but I am not paralyzed by my grief! I am energized by the unexpected visits that allowed us to spend valuable time together. I am thankful for the time that my sons were able to share with their grandfather. Everyone deals with grief in their own ways but finding positivity and holding on to it helps us cope in a less destructive manner.

You can read more about coping with reminders after a loss here.

I am Not Mad. I am Motivated.

My father was killed by an impaired driver. The driver had just left court after being convicted of a previous DUI. Cocaine was found in her system after she caused a crash that killed two.

Although I am angered by her actions, my Faith guides me toward finding positivity. My Faith ‘says’ that perhaps my dad was at the best place, spiritually, for him to leave this world. Perhaps his death protected him from a life that would become unbearable with suffering.

Being positive and having Faith makes difficult events and situations have a purpose. When we can place value and purpose to our pain, we can grow from it. When we become stagnant in our pain, we are at a greater risk of self-destruction. Unfortunately, self-destruction is often not contained to just one’s self.

Not Mad. Motivated. was created as a reminder to use difficulties as opportunities of growth. Your support of Not Mad. Motivated. will help us continue to spread the message of finding positivity and purpose within life’s challenges. Please consider purchasing your Not Mad. Motivated. merchandise today and inspire your community for a long time to come!