Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Last Picture

C:\Users\Brosseau Home Office\Documents\C\Users\brosseab\Documents\Jane\My Pictures\Dad and the girls.jpg
My Dad with my three oldest girls - December 2009

2018 marks 9 years since my dad passed away. I can’t believe it has been that long ago, some days it feels like yesterday and other times it feels like a lifetime ago. Losing my dad has had a huge impact on who I am as a mother.
This picture was taken on Dec. 27th 2009. My dad passed away on January 8th, 2010. Right before Christmas we had received the devastating news that my dad’s lung cancer had spread everywhere and that he had little time left. When this picture was taken we didn’t know how little time that would be. 
A quick back story, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer the end of September 2009. He had no symptoms except for a cough, we were completely blind sided. He battled bravely undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. That December we found out that the cancer was everywhere and my dad said no more treatments. December was a blur, we quickly baptized our 3 daughters, it was something that my dad felt really strongly about and the only thing he and I ever argued about. My parents had come to stay with us for Christmas. Our good friend Amy is a fabulous photographer and I had asked her if she could take family pictures for us after Christmas. My dad had been really sick and I thought several times about canceling the photo shoot. We went through with it and I am so grateful that we did. Cancer treatments robbed my dad of his signature dark thick hair and mustache, but his smile and the twinkle in his blue eyes was still there. These pictures have become treasured gifts to us. I don’t think I can ever put into words how thankful I am to my dear friend for leaving her family right after Christmas and taking these pictures for us.
I miss my dad every day. He was only able to meet 3 of my 9 babies. Shortly after he passed away we found out that I was pregnant. We did not find out the gender of the baby and when the baby was a boy, I sobbed. Our first boy! I think everyone in the delivery room cried with us.  I knew it was my dad sending me a sign, that he was still with us in a different way. We named his middle name after my dad and Roo is so much like him. He has his smile and the same twinkle in his blue eyes, thankfully not my dad’s ears, just kidding dad. Several of my kids have my dad's mannerisms and it makes my heart happy. Since my dad's passing he has become a cross between a saint and a super hero to my kids. My dad was not perfect, but he was a good kind person. I love that my kids ask questions about him and that I can share stories about him. My dad was an only child as well and I am not sure what he would have thought of our big loud crazy family, but I would give anything to have one more day with him and have him meet all my kiddos.
When you lose a parent you become part of a club that you would never ask to be a member of. The grief I feel from losing my dad is always with me. It has changed over the years and changed me. The loss of a loved one is not something that you get through or over, it is always with you in some form. Right after my dad passed was the loneliest I have ever felt. My husband and friends were wonderfully supportive, but being an only child I did not have any siblings to share the grief or burden of helping to pick up the pieces. In hind sight that experience may have set me on the course for having a large family. I know having siblings doesn't guarantee that you will have their support or a wonderful relationship with them, but I am so happy that my kids have each other.

This past October, for my 40th birthday, my mom and Bill sent me and my oldest daughter to England and Wales for a week to see my dad's side of the family. It was an amazing trip to see all our relatives and visit the places that I went with him as a kid. I felt his presence often on that trip.

My dad always loved birds. The house I grew up in had big sliding doors that looked out onto a deck. My dad would sit on the couch doing a crossword puzzle and watch the birds at the bird feeder. His favorites were the cardinals and blue jays. Over the past nine years I have often seen cardinals and think that they are a sign from my dad. A friend who also lost her dad posted this, "A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them..."
Hug your loved ones extra tight and take all those family pictures. Life is precious and time is short.