Hello all. Well I’m sure a ton of you watch the TV series – This Is Us, right???? Wow, this show gets all your emotions flowing!! We just watched the latest episode last night (and the big reveal on Sunday night). Let’s just say a ton of emotions, thoughts and memories flooded my mind. I was up most of the night thinking of my Jack Pearson aka Ken Cox. This morning, I felt like it would help me be raw and discuss what’s on my mind.
I told Britt at the beginning of this series that I wasn’t sure if I could handle watching the scenes where they lose their dad. She obviously understood and said we didn’t have to watch them. Once the series reached the point where it was going to show the dreaded scenes, I knew that the only reason I didn’t want to see it was because I didn’t want to open up past wounds.
I guess you could say I was scared to relive my experience. I mean, I talk about my dad quite often, but I don’t like to talk about his death. It’s true when people say “the words make it real”. I guess a part of me wants to pretend my dad is just on a long fishing/hunting trip instead of being gone.
I will never forget that phone call on October 7th, 2010. It was roughly 9pm…I picked up and I heard my mom on the other end, sobbing and trying to talk…she couldn’t. My heart was racing and I knew at that moment something was very wrong. I then heard a familiar voice (my uncle Jamie) say, “Steph, your dad was in a car accident. I’m so sorry he didn’t make it.” I remember this like it was yesterday. I immediately went it to organization mode, which I can now label as denial.
My first priority was to get to my mom. I was completely numb to everything else. Five hours later, I walked through my parent’s door and held my mom for what felt like hours. At about 4am, we all tried to get some rest knowing that the next few days would be very long. I woke up at about 5:30am and realized this wasn’t a dream. I got up to go to the washroom and this is when it really hit me.
My dad and I had this tradition when I’d come up and visit them. I’d usually wake up at about 5-530 am to go to the washroom and as I passed the kitchen, I’d see my dad preparing his famous western for when we woke up. Yep, he was an early riser. Without fail, as I passed him to crawl back into bed, he’d say, “How about a game of crib?” with this smile. I never said no. There were many times I wanted to, but I didn’t; this tradition went on for years. Until that morning. I walked by the kitchen and for the first time, it was dark. No dad, no smell of onions, no crib. I fell to my knees and just sobbed. This is when I can say it hit me.
Since then, I think a big part of me has buried the harder emotions so that I could move forward. When you lose someone so important, you really do feel a sense of – I can’t do this without him. But my dad found a way to reassure me that I could. I am someone that does not dream (or remember them), but about 3 weeks after his death…he showed up. It still blows my mind! In this dream, we were all in my childhood home crying and talking about how to cope with moving forward without my dad. Then he came around the corner, looked at us and said, “Why are you all so upset?” We ran to him and gave him the biggest group hug yelling, “We thought you were gone?” He responded, “I’d never leave you girls.”
I woke up and I swear I must have been hugging myself in my sleep because my arms were so sore. I cried knowing what he was trying to do. Maybe we just believe in these kinds of things when we really need to, but why is it that this is the first time I have ever remembered a dream? That dream got me through my toughest moments.
Fast forward 8 years, and watching a TV show brings it all back like it was yesterday. The hurt, the guilt, the sadness, the anger, the miss, the memories, the visions, the void, the emptiness and the what if’s. It’s a pain that all of us wish we could avoid, yet we all have to go through at some point. I’d give anything to have one more game of crib, have him witness my marriage, hold my first born or simply give me that reassuring hug and whisper, “I’m right here”.
My friends and family got me through this difficult time, without them I don’t know if I could have done it. Today, they are still there when I need them. I will always have moments of the miss, but I hear him say, “ok, Steph 5 minutes is up, get back at it!” He always said when he was alive, when it’s my time to go, I want a party! What a man.
I’m smiling right now blessed to know that I had a real life Jack Pearson.