Jerry Carnes and his late father Jimmy.
Time heals all wounds.
I wonder if a decade is enough. Probably not.
Monday morning greeted me with all the warmth of an overdue bill. I'd worked half the weekend in tornado ravaged Paulding County, an endeavor that didn't allow my body to fully recharge from the undertakings of the previous week. My daughter ate breakfast next to a zombie, wondering what had happened to her father.
A moment later, my fatigue would sink behind a wave of overwhelming sadness.
A note from my sister reminded me that it had been a year since the passing of our father. An entire year. It seemed impossible. The grief feels so fresh. There are still times when I start to call him with news of family-related events only to sag under the realization that he won't answer. I still look at his picture and curse the disease that left a gaping hole in our joy. It has been 365 days of pondering just how unfair and cruel cancer has been to my family.
I could have sworn that by now the sadness would have diminished some. Maybe it has. For the longest time I thought about my father at least once an hour. It's not quite as often now, but when the thought hits me, it's just as powerful as the day he left us.
Part of me welcomes the pain. It lets me know just how much he meant to me and how lucky I was to have him. It's also a jabbing motivation urging me to follow his example as a man who thought far more of others than himself. If I can use my grief to prod me into become even half the selfless person he was, I'll be a better person for it.
To be honest, there are still times when the emptiness just flat bums me out. I was warned this would happen, but I tried not to believe it. It was really bad at Christmas. I mean really bad. I was body-slammed into the reality of a missing piece that future holidays will never replace. I don't know of any exercises to lift a sagging heart back into place after its been treated like that.
After sitting back for a year trying fruitlessly to wish the grief away, I'm trying something new. I've decided to talk to a counselor. I don't think there's any shame in it. It was foolish to pretend that this kind of sadness is incapable of overwhelming me. It has. It's not like I need a room with padded walls or anything. I just need a little help.
God has known all along that I lack the strength to overcome this on my own. He's been right there waiting for me to seek his guidance. Frankly, I've been to stubborn or arrogant to ask. I have prayed that God would help my mom and others in my family through this. I need Him too.
Time heals all wounds. No one said a year was enough time. My father was such a positive influence on my life. He would be disappointed if his passing became a burden. I can't disappoint him. I won't.
I was wrong. I said there were no exercises to lift a sagging heart. The fact is, I'm not strong enough to do it on my own.
Jimmy Carnes is still in my heart. He'll help me lift it back into place, and it will be stronger than ever.