For I must be traveling on now
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see
This month, this month has been a hard one. It's probably been the most emotionally trying month I've ever lived through.
I'm not good at grief. Not in the slightest. Every socially awkward, tactless, inappropriately sarcastic and poorly timed joke that I make in real life...is magnified about 1000 fold in times of grief. That's being conservative. I don't know the words to say, and I certainly don't know how to keep my mouth shut (have you ever met me?). I'm told that everyone handles grief in different ways. Some of us, we just don't handle it. We walk away and pretend that it doesn't exist.
But, it does.
I've known Tim Warren for a little over 9 years. I was 19 years old the first time we met in the hallways of South Tower (a dormitory at USC). I was his daughter's Resident Advisor. But, little did any of us know what the future would eventually bring...
There has never been a time that Tim has not been in the background of my relationship with my husband. He is my husband's best friend, his mentor and his father. Tim has been there through everything. He gave a speech on our wedding day, he'd go on to tell me how much he loved me by the campfire at Hagen, he would help us move from place to place, he would eventually cry tears of joy when we announced that we were expecting a son, he would hold my hand and tell me that I was brave and that I was so loved on the day I gave birth...
In the time that I knew Tim, he showed me more love than the father who was given to me by blood. Though I can't claim him as my own father, he is responsible (at least in part) for who I am today. He was tough when he had to be, always kind, always generous and more compassionate than I deserved.
The last thing he said to me was, "Take care of my boys. Love you, girl."
Love you, too.
I know that you aren't over affectionate. We've always shared that. I wish I could tell you that I've lost on an equal level. But, I can't. No one can. You and Tim never had a "conventional father/daughter relationship." But, you had something special. When were looking at old pictures before the funeral, I would often come across photos of you and your dad when you were a little girl. One sticks out: you were newly home from the hospital, you were laying beside your Daddy on the couch and he was staring at you. He was staring at you like that, because he was so proud that you were his. He had the same look of pride on his face in the photo the day you killed your first deer. I saw the look on his face when you graduated college, when you joined Hagen, in every photo I've seen of you two since. I love that baby picture, because it so accurately portrays every action he's directed toward you in the time we've known each other. I've never known a father to love a daughter so much.
I can't imagine the pain you're going through. I want you to know that I've never known a stronger woman that you are. The love that we have for the one who was made for us is visceral, instinctive, whole. The road was long and hard-won, but you found each other. To lose your soulmate is likely the greatest pain anyone could ever experience. You lost your love on your wedding anniversary. At first I thought, how heartbreaking. But then, something truly beautiful was laid on my heart. Tim's life began the day that he married you. He had found his joy and the lover of his soul. He had searched the world over for you and here you have been since. Mother to mother, the love that we hold for our children is immeasurable. But, eventually, they spread their wings and make their own way in the world. When they have gone, the only ones left standing are you and the person you chose to spend your life with. And you were that person, you made him the happiest man alive. And your face, your love is what followed him home. He began and ended with you. With that said, my sincerest prayer for you is that you don't remember the day he died as one of heartbreak. I hope that you chose to remember it as happy as the day you walked to him, when you walked toward forever...because forever...is still ahead of you.
You are everything you are, because of who you were raised to be. You are strong, tender, gracious, brave, hard-working and such a wonderful person. I pray that you and Henry have a relationship that matches what you and your father had. Over the last 17 days it has occurred to me that our parents are only in our lives for a short time, but the impact they make is so great that it shapes us for our lifetime. In turn, that relationship shapes the relationship we have with our children. I cannot put into words how blessed I would be if our son turned out to be like you and your father. Your Dad truly lives in you. You are the piece of him that is still with us. You are a light and you give strength to those around you. I know you are hurting, I see it everyday. But, know this, your "Old Man" is with you. He will always be...I love you, so very much. I am grateful for all that you are. I will always take care of you. I made a promise to an old man in his boxers on the front porch, after all.
Thank you for everything.
Song of the Day:
Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
--the vinyl edition (Thanks, Tim!)
--the vinyl edition (Thanks, Tim!)