When you lose someone unexpectedly and don’t get to say goodbye, something breaks inside of you. I’m not sure what it is. Your mind doesn’t work correctly for quite a while. You wake up even weeks afterward in the middle of the night and have thoughts like “maybe the doctors could try _____________?”, or you pick up your phone to call them without remembering that they’re no longer here. It still seems so odd every. single. day.
You see, Dad was the center hub of our family wheel. He had a gravitational pull that kept the rest of us from spinning off into the vast universe. The one who kept us all together, and lined us all out when we needed it. The one who knew everything we ever asked him, and if he didn’t, he’d have some smart-ass remark about it to make us laugh. The one who could handle having two rambunctious daughters who were constantly annoying him, yet never seemed to completely lose his temper. The one who loved his grandchildren fiercely, and never let time stand in the way of what they wanted to do or where they wanted to explore.
He was so many things to so many different people, and if I tried to list all of the amazing qualities that I saw in him as his daughter, you’d be reading this for months. Suffice it to say, I was a lucky girl to have him as my Dad.
In the aftermath of losing him, as the dust was settling, we realized that the reigns of working the land that had been in his family since 1890 has now fallen into our laps. Selling this 5th generation land has never been an option in our minds. Dad was independent and rarely asked for our help on the farm. While we knew generally what needed to be accomplished, we didn’t know the detailed ins and outs as he did. We are blessed to be surrounded by the very best family and friends known to man. They stepped up and did the things that needed to be done right after losing Dad when we couldn’t bring ourselves to face it, and when we felt a little more ready to pick up those reigns they started teaching us some of the things we needed to know to continue this path for the next generation in our family. To this day, some of them are still holding our hands, cheering us on, and chipping in every chance they can to lighten our load. Every day, we strive to stand on our own feet and continue planting roots in this land to keep that ol’ plow horse moving forward in life, but we are forever grateful for those friends and family for all they have done and continue to do for us. We would be sunk without them.
As we each learned how to process our own emotions around this new life we found ourselves in, I found that throwing my thoughts and worries into the dirt, literally, helped me exponentially. Gardening has always been a place where I could quiet my mind, but now I have realized that it is my therapy. It heals my soul and quiets my mind when I don’t even realize that’s what I need. The grief is still there, but every time I put my hands in the dirt, I let that grief flow out of my heart and into the soil along with the seedlings I’ve poured my love into. I let go of it all and know that what comes of all the hard work will nourish me and my family later on down the road, physically – but at the time, it is nourishing me emotionally. Maybe it’s a healthy coping mechanism, maybe it isn’t. All I know is that I have grown more than just plants the last three years, I’ve grown a deep pride in the garden and farm, and in my family for how far we’ve come in these long/short years.
I don’t believe that what happens to us is by chance. God has put this trial in our path, not because he is angry with us or to punish us, but because he loves us enough to show us our fullest potential. We can choose to be the victim of it, or choose to be the victor out of it.
I choose to be the victor, by God’s grace, and I hope every single day that we are making Dad proud in the process.