Tuesday, November 15, 2011

They say the first ones are the hardest....

Holidays that is.

The first holiday without your loved one.

The first holiday season without my dad.

To catch you up if you just started following:  my dad passed away in May from Melanoma.  He fought very hard for a year.  My dad wasn't old, he was just 66.  Worst year of our lives.  Full of ups and downs.  About drove me to have a heart attack or what I found out later to be panic attacks.

I was thinking about last year at this time when he was just getting over a major surgery and we were preparing for a good holiday season.  And it was a good one.

There's this strange thing when someone you love dearly has stage IV cancer.  At least for me, there was this dueling fight between two very different feelings.  One being the realistic person that I am:  My dad has stage IV Melanoma; incurable, aggressive, fatal in almost all cases.

And then there was what I think occurs to many if not most people that are clinging onto the person they love:  The superhero mentality.  Meaning, you turn the person that has cancer into a superhero.  They will be the one to beat this.  They will kick cancer's ass.  There is no alternative, the cancer has to go.  And you genuinely believe this even when you see the person struggling to breathe, struggling to walk.

That's called HOPE.  

And if we didn't have hope how would anyone ever beat cancer?  What would be the point?

Last Christmas I took lots of pictures of my dad.  More than I usually do because the realist in me told me that this may be the last Christmas I spend with him but then he would say something like: {and this was so my dad, always joking, always wanting to see you smile}

"Why are you taking so many pictures of me?  Ya think I'm going somewhere?"  

And once again, he was my superhero.  But it didn't take cancer for me to feel that way about him.

So while this holiday season will be the first without him and hard, I am so thankful for the fact that our last holiday season with him was wonderful.  In fact EVERY.SINGLE.HOLIDAY SEASON was wonderful with my dad.  So many perfect memories that I have, all of them put a smile on my face.

He was the best, that's all there is to it.

Miss you dad.  I think of you every day.  You're still my superhero.  Always have been, always will be.


  1. TEARS. thinking of you A. I wonder how amazing it is for him to celebrate his first Christmas with JESUS himself... to cut birthday cake with the Jesus is comforting at most. Hugs!

  2. Adrienne, that was beautiful!

    I am sad that your time with him was cut shorter than any of you would have wanted... Looking at that picture from last Christmas you can see his spunk, and I see your kids in him. And boy do I see you in your mom! Beautiful! I am so grateful for you that you had such a wonderful and involved dad, he left a pretty incredible legacy with you and your sister and his grandkids.

  3. Aww love this. I have never met you in person, but I have always seen the love you have for your dad, and the very special relationship you have. I don't have that at all ... you are very lucky Adrienne, even to have just those memories of him. Even though my dad is alive, you have so much more. I hope you guys have a wonderful holiday, hard as it may be, reminiscing about your dad and loving your family. :)

  4. That post left me in tears! I lost my dad 5 years ago to stage IV lung cancer and what you write is so true - we so hoped he would beat it taking it day by day, treatment by treatment (even though he and I were the two realists in the family). He lived for a year with cancer and I am thankful in a way that he passed before he had to ever suffer in pain. We all miss him everyday, especially around the holidays, especially when I listen to my Christmas music (he loved music). But I am so thankful that there was nothing left unsaid between us - I did not have to try and cram all of these last words in because we said "I love you" our entire lives. Like you, I have the best memories of him and he knew how much he was loved which comforts me. So when I read your post I know that life will never be the same without your dad but thank God for the wonderful relationship you did have. Not many people can say that - sadly enough. And you are so lucky he was able to meet and enjoy Bennett (and of course your two older girls). My dad never had the chance to meet our 3rd son Mikey but I know he is his own special angel. Enjoy your holiday season with your family and enjoy the pictures you took of your dad - maybe some video of him speaking too. Thanks for your great blog - Stephanie Castro from Long Island

  5. Beautiful post, Adrienne. Reminds us never to take anything for granted, and to cherish the moments we have with each other. I'm glad you have such amazing memories.

  6. How sweet. Lost my Dad two years ago to Pancreatic cancer, 11 weeks from diagnosis. Smile thru the tears at the old memories - you will be making new ones, too. The holidays are a struggle..think outside the box some and do some new and different things. I promised my dad that each season I would watch the leaves change for him, watch the tree light up, watch the green come back in the spring..it's my new mental tradition to take it all in for us both.

  7. Hang in there, sweetie! I will be praying for you and your family this holiday season.

  8. What a great post...Praying that you have a most wonderful holiday this year inspite of the circumstances! My cousin just lost her husband this year to Melanoma, he was only 36 years old...Cancer stinks! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  9. Oh, this was such a sweet, heart-filled post. I'm sure you are so thankful for all those extra pics you snapped last year. I pray that you would have a most blessed Christmas this year, and that God would just pour His love out on you in extra measure as you miss your daddy's presence this year. Bless you.

  10. I stumbled across your blog this morning from pinterest...I was hooked reading about your precious family and then came across this post about your daddy...I could hardly read it through my tears. I lost my dad 2years ago, 9 days after his diagnosis of liver cancer. What a shocker, he never drank in his life, and we really didn't find out much about the type of cancer since by the time we realized the symptoms it was too late. BUT I've never experienced God's grace like I have since our family has been placed on this journey. Each year it feels like God blesses our family with something new, I have had two brothers get married in the last two years and both are either expecting or just had a baby. We've needed to make new traditions at holidays/birthdays to make new memories. But probably the hardest thing right now for me is to see my mom alone...I don't like it one little bit! While I feel like I'm learning to continue on life's journey, remembering with my children memories about grandpa, I still can hardly stand that mom is alone. Blessings to you and your families as you learn what a new normal looks like.
    Sharla Graber


I love reading your thoughts so go ahead and leave a comment!