The above photo is from my own wedding day, taken by The Dusty Lens Cap. The photo in the frame is my Dad, James Wirtanen. My Dad passed away on October 5, 2007 at about 9:30 a.m. He was just 59 years old. My son, who is a spitting image of my Dad, walked me down the aisle on my wedding day in honor of my Dad. I added the photo of him to my bouquet, so in a way, he was walking me down as well. For any of you in Northeast Ohio wanting to honor a loved one, this is a great way to do it.
Now, let me get a little personal. I do not cry every day about missing my Dad, sometimes I go weeks or months without crying about him, but some days I do. Today is one of those days. Yes, it has been over ten years since I lost him. Does time ease the pain? Yes, sometimes it does. But, some days, it feels like it just happened yesterday. No one has the right to tell me to get over it, or to say that they expected me to be over it already. Some pain you never get over, nor should you. You work through it, you grow from it, you learn from it, you let it give you clarity and strength.
Sometimes, I will be just be going about my day, and I will see an older gentleman that for a split second will look like my Dad. My heart sinks, just for a second. I know it is not him, but for a split second I see him. When this happens, sometimes I get so angry that he is not here. I yell at God for taking him from me, from my kids. He loved my kids so much. They were only 3 and 7 years old when he passed away, but for those brief years they were his world. I get angry that he doesn’t get to see how amazing they are as teenagers, I know he would be so proud of them. I get angry that he never got to meet my husband, John. Those two would have had a blast together, I can picture them having a beer around the fire pit in my backyard. I can’t go to a flea market or antique store without missing him, and getting angry that he isn’t around to find me the stuff that I want at a great deal. I get angry that he never got to see me start my own photography business. He never got to know that his little girl would become a wedding photographer, and that sucks. But, I know he would be so very proud of me. He never got to see my work published, that would have made him the most proud. Yes, I get angry…And that is OK! I do not carry it like a boulder on my shoulder, I carry it within me, within my soul. It is ok to grieve, even ten years later.
Grief sucks. Grief can be overwhelming. But, it is a part of life, and do not allow anyone to tell you it is ever time to get over it. How do I deal with it? It is different for everyone, but I have found ways to deal with it on my own. I remember him, and all of his adventures, all of the memories we shared. I look through old photos, I watch old videos to hear his voice, and I smile looking at my children knowing that he is watching over them and a part of him is inside of both of them. I listen to music that I know he loved. I smile on my travels, knowing that he is with me and that he is so proud that I want to see the world. I work my butt of, and smile knowing that he is beside me cheering me along.
Today, I am grieving my Daddy. And that is OK. I want you to know that grieving is OK. Life can suck. But, life can also be beautiful. Tomorrow is a new day, and I will make the most of, in honor of him. If you cannot handle your grief, seek help, seek friends. I am blessed to have some amazing friends and an amazing husband by my side to help me during my bad days. I thank God for them! Do not be afraid to reach out. I promise, you will get through this. Now, check out some old snapshots of my sunshine, my mountain man, my Daddy.