Saturday, August 11, 2012

one year ago

This morning I woke up at 4:30 AM and headed to South Jordan for our annual 5K. I picked up Amanda and some coffee on the way there and my car was packed with bananas, oranges, water and ice. The day was starting out eerily similar to last year.

Thankfully, there were a few things that went differently this year. The race went off without a hitch and I didn't have to stand on a street corner directing confused runners. Last year I stood on the corner of 114th South and Riverfront Parkway instructing runners to go all the way around the light post and down the road to the finish line. It was while I was standing there that I got a text from my brother-in-law saying that they had taken my dad to the hospital in Vernal and it wasn't looking good.

I will never forget that moment. I knew right then that nothing would ever be the same and the road ahead looked very grim. The rest of the day is a blur. I left the 5k and drove to my apartment. I could barely breathe or see through my tears but I made it. While I was waiting for life flight to land at the U I cleaned my apartment and ended up breaking a picture sandstone my dad had given me just a couple months earlier.

Family came and met us at the hospital. Then it was a lot of agonizing and waiting while the doctors worked to stabilize him. And when we were finally able to go into the ICU to see him, it was horrifying. That room and that hallway on the 4th floor at the University of Utah Medical Center still haunt my dreams. But when he woke up, he had quite an experience to share. One that changed my life forever.

We held our annual 5k a bit earlier this year so it won't be exactly a year later for a couple more weeks. But the emotions I felt today are just as harsh and overwhelming as they were then. And they aren't backing off. It's going to be a rough ride for a while... again. I'm doing all I can to "hang in there" just like my dad taught me.

Monday, July 30, 2012

sexy legs

I have been super stressed out lately. Sometimes life just gets that way, ya know? There is a lot to juggle as an adult and every once in a while it gets overwhelming and all of the balls come crashing down on you. That is exactly how I felt last week and one night I fell into a slump and didn't leave my couch for hours. 

When I finally made it to my bed and fell asleep I was so happy in my dream that I consciously kept myself asleep longer than I should have. I dreamed that my dad was in my living room sitting on the couch that used to be his. It was natural and comfortable and I was filled with the calm and happiness that he always brought into the room with him. He lifted his foot up onto my coffee table - the one my parents had very early in their marriage that he covered in his copralite tiles several years ago - and he started to lift up his pant leg. I covered my eyes and yelled out, "dad! don't blind us with your legs!" He looked at me with his fake look of shock and began rubbing his calf up and down saying, "ooooh, they're sexy!" I busted up laughing and then he looked over at Vi and pulled up his sock and started explaining to her why they were the best socks ever and why she needed them... I remember thinking, "this feels so real! I can't wait to tell my siblings that I got to spend time with dad again."

It was my first time dreaming of my dad since he passed away 6 months and 10 days ago. I have been waiting very impatiently for him to come to my dreams and it couldn't have happened on a better night. I woke up feeling like everything was going to be ok and I was letting it stress me out too much. Even now, nobody can calm me down as well as my dad can. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

health care, bitches!

today... I celebrate. and yes, that means using foul language in my post title.

this is what it's all about. in the country considered the greatest of them all, nobody should be denied health care because of "pre-existing conditions" and no one should be denied procedures or any kind of health care because they work at a job that doesn't offer coverage. I couldn't be more proud of Congress, President Obama and conservative Chief Justice Roberts today. they get it. they care. and I couldn't be more relieved.

so, at the risk of getting emotional, the truth is that my dad would still be alive today if this law had already been in effect. the cost of an LVAD wouldn't have been considered when the doctors made decisions about his care. he simply would have been given one the minute it was needed, and he would have been on the transplant list months earlier. and there isn't anyone, including my dad's amazing doctors at the U of U hospital, who would say that what happened to my dad was fair or right. my dad was a small business owner, and just like most small business owners, couldn't afford an insurance plan on his own. this exact situation happens over and over. people are dying and suffering every day simply because they don't have insurance. the type of profession you choose, or are born into, is the number one factor in whether or not a person has health insurance. is that really what should decide whether you live or suffer from a disease? NO. and the fact that this ever became an issue in our country still astounds and disgusts me.

anyway, today is a major victory. I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel!, back to my victory dance :)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

billy jean

about a year ago I got a call from my dad on my way home from work. It went like this, me - "hi dad" dad - "billy jean!" me - "what? who?" dad - "BILLY JEAN!" me - "dad, what are you talking about?" dad - "Billy Jean! I told you I would remember my favorite Michael Jackson song!" it had been about a week since we had the conversation and his mind had blanked on the name of his favorite song. so, it took me a while to catch on. I loved these random phone calls from my dad...

so, when I realized that was the song The Civil Wars were playing during their encore, my eyes welled up with tears and it took me a bit to get the video camera going. they did an amazing job, although I'm sure my dad would have said they ruined it :) love you dad!

Friday, May 18, 2012


My initial reaction to Obama announcing his support for same-sex marriage was less than stellar. Trust me, it shocked me too. But, the first thing I thought was, "WHAT IS HE THINKING? HOW COULD HE HAVE EVER THOUGHT THAT MAKING THIS ANNOUNCEMENT BEFORE THE ELECTION WAS A GOOD IDEA?!" And yes, using all caps for these thoughts is necessary. In fact, I'm sure that my entire chat conversation with Brad, who bears the brunt of all of my initial reactions, was in caps. I was literally terrified that it was over. That there was no way he was going to win reelection now. 

As I stared at the screen I heard my dad's voice in my head. Just as plain as day. He said, "It's over Christa. Obama doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell to win reelection." Then I imagined him giggling and performing a little victory dance in front of me with that smirky grin he always had during moments like this. I was completely bummed. 

Later that night my political strategist mind finally gave in and let me look at this with my bleeding heart instead. I was overcome with pride. There have actually been several moments over the past 3 years of Obama's presidency when I have felt a sense of pride, but never like I did in this moment. I suddenly understood how monumental this was. The president of the United States, the most powerful person in our country, in the world, was voicing his support for gay rights and equality.!

This is something I wasn't sure I would ever see in my lifetime. It's actually astonishing how much hatred of gay people still exists in the world. Obama obviously believes in this issue so much that he is willing to risk his reelection and his reputation among world leaders. And then I wondered what it must feel like to be a gay person in this moment.  If I, as a white American straight woman, felt this much pride and excitement, it must be extremely overwhelming for them. 

I still don't know if I will ever actually see gay marriage become legal in the entire United States in my lifetime. There is a lot of work to be done, but just over the past few years a lot of strides have been made. And Obama's announcement was a giant leap in the movement. Here are a few of my favorite things in the wake of it all. 

Jane Lynch on Rachel Maddow - The Best New Thing In The World Today

Sunday, May 06, 2012

checking in

Last week, this happened. It was happening while my siblings were on their way to my house for the weekend. So, I was busy cleaning my apartment and blowing up an air mattress while shoppers at my neighborhood grocery store were being randomly stabbed with a kitchen knife. I didn't hear about it until the next day and when I did I realized that it's never taken me that long to hear big news like that before. I should have received a phone call from my dad during the local news asking me if I had been stabbed. But, I didn't. Nobody worried about me or wondered if I was ok. While things like that happening in my neighborhood are always sad and disturbing to hear, this was the first time it had made me feel completely alone.

It's been getting easier to get back into the swing of things and live life day to day, but the pain isn't subsiding. Little moments like this one remind me how much I'm missing without him, sometimes several times a day. And I still have moments where it seems impossible. That there is no way I am never going to see or speak with my dad again. In these moments life feels too long and extremely empty.

I always loved getting those check-in calls from my dad when he was watching the news, but I didn't realize just how much of an impact they had on me. As the only single and childless sibling in the family, it's very easy to feel lonely. My dad's calls reminded me that I wasn't alone and that I meant the world to him no matter what my circumstances were or where I was. I know that I still do, and I know that he is watching over me, but it's a difficult thing to feel. My feelings are all being used up by sorrow and grief.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


every time I look at my hands, I see my dad. they are one of the many features I inherited from him. short and stubby, tough, not very lady-like at all. they are hands built for hard work and my dad used them that way his whole life.

my dad used his hands for lots of different types of manual labor. he did things like construction, gold mining, gardening, home repairs, hunting, rocking out on the drums, auto mechanics, and of course, rocks. digging rocks up, washing them, cutting them, polishing them, and gluing tiny pieces of them back together with his magic glue. having his hands, I have often wondered how he was so good at all of this. I find myself very limited in so many things because my fingers won't fit into small places or maneuver well around things. but, I know I can because my dad could, so I keep on trying.

my dad also used his hands to torment us. he was famous for thumping our heads pretty hard when we were in trouble, or just when he wanted to get our attention or get us riled up. he could also do crazy things to our arms and legs that caused intense pain before we even knew what happened. he sure got a kick out of that. he was unbelievably strong and could crunch our knuckles in with no effort and send us falling to our knees begging him to stop. as much as this would hurt or annoy me, I loved the joy and smile it brought to his face and his little "neener-neener" type of giggle it caused. 

he also used his hands to tickle us. whenever we left a hand dangling somewhere, an armpit exposed, or a foot dangling out from under the blankets, he would tickle. and sometimes he would just tackle us and tickle, tickle, tickle all over until we could no longer breathe or fight back or had farted. yes... farted. that always got the whole house involved and laughing hysterically. if we were lucky though, the tickling would end by us getting him to massage out some knots in our back or neck. it hurt like hell, but did the trick.

but, my favorite thing my dad did with his hands were the pats and squeezes when he hugged. he would pat or rub your back just to add that little extra touch of love he knew we needed. and if I was ever standing by his side he would bring his hand around my back and up to my shoulder for a tight side hug and extra squeeze on my arm. everything my dad did with his hands was a way that he showed his love. I hope my hands will do the same. 

Monday, April 09, 2012


in two days I will be celebrating my 31st birthday. I've dreaded birthdays before, but never like this. 

my dad was never good with birthdays or any other significant dates. even holidays. he always knew when it was getting close, so he would just call you whenever he thought about it. so, some years I would get a call a day or two or three before my brithday, and some years a day or two or three after. one year he called me on amber's birthday and when I told him it was her birthday, he still didn't call her for a couple more days. it rarely happened on my actual birthday. and every time I would just laugh and say, "thanks dad. I will pretend today is the 11th" 

so, every year at this time I would be expecting a call from my dad at any moment. and for the first time in my 31 years it's not going to happen. there isn't much I wouldn't give for just one more conversation with my dad. the one-sided conversations I have been having with him have been good, but lately I have been really needing some solid reassurance from him. 

one thing I am sure of is that I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for him. and I can honestly so that 31 years in I am very happy with who I am. I couldn't be more proud than when I notice characteristics in myself that are because of him. I love you, dad. and I hope I am doing you proud.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

get a clue

I was driving home from work the other day pondering some recent developments in my life when I heard my dad's voice loud and clear say, "christa, get a clue!" and just like that I was looking at everything from my dad's perspective instead of with my emotions. as a side note, and I will go into more detail about this in a different post, when my dad talked to me like this he would pronounce my name CHRITTA in a very goofy voice. that is what I heard.

I'm a girl. that's the excuse I use for letting my emotions rule my decisions and plans. but, I do know that I can change that. my dad was the most logical and calm person I have ever met. he is the perfect example of smart and level-headed decision making. I wish I had a vocal recording of my dad saying "get a clue!" so that I could play it to myself every time I started getting emotional and stressed out. hopefully my brain has it stored securely enough that I will be able to hear it for the rest of my life. my biggest fear is that things like this will start to fade...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

one smart and lucky girl

during my last grief therapy session we focused on bringing my best memories of dad out of hiding. this one was so good I had to immediately write it down so that I can go back to it whenever needed.

as soon as I graduated from college I packed up and moved to DC. it was my dream and I could not wait to start living it. I loved it there. it felt right. I was happy. it was the best two years of my life. but, suddenly one day it hit me like a ton of bricks that I needed to move home. the idea came out of nowhere. I intended on living in DC forever and I was very happy about it. but, once I realized that I needed to move home to be with my dad, the thought wouldn't leave me alone. it was like a cancer taking over my thoughts. so, I left my dream job, packed up my car, drove across the country and moved in with my dad in St. George.

during the 9 months or so that I lived there we had numerous long talks, pep talks and other education and philosophical adventures. I cherished every single one of them. but, there is one that stands out in particular. I was cooking dinner for my dad and brett and there was a history channel show on in the background about the historical and scientific accuracy of the bible. so, naturally, my dad and I were in a deep discussion about religion, history, science, the bible and philosophy. I both loved and hated these conversations. hated because I rarely presented arguments that my dad couldn't immediately quash. and loved because I learned so much from those conversations. I learned how to adequately speak my mind, a bunch of history, and a ton about my dad.

near the end of this conversation, just as I was plating his dinner, my dad looked at me and said, "this is why you're my favorite. you think for yourself, you aren't a sheep. and you're pretty damn smart too." that moment I felt more joy and love than I ever have in my life. if I never heard a compliment again, I would be ok. he believed it and so did I. he loved me, and that was all I needed. life was good. and I was the luckiest girl in the world.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

uncharted territory

For quite a while there I thought I would never post on my blog again. But I suddenly find myself in uncharted territory and in dyer need of somewhere to write about it. Writing has always helped me figure things out. It's a way to wade through the huge mess of thoughts and feelings that are overtaking me and using up all of my energy. There are things I think, but don't quite understand and things I remember and never want to forget. So... this is my place.

For the past eleven and a half years I have lived every day on edge waiting for my worst fear to come true. On January 20, 2012, my father passed away and that fear was realized. Now... everything is different. I am a different person. My life will never be the same, and I am still trying to figure out how, what, when, where, why... It's all confusing.

I was very lucky. I was able to live the first 30 years, 9 months and 9 days of my life with the most amazing father anyone could ask for. I am who I am because of him and I learned so many things that I have yet to take advantage of. I need to get it all down, burn it into my memory, never let it die. And then I need to live a life that would make my dad proud... This is what I resolve to do.