Preshus Photo Weekend Round-Up #24045831233
Moving Forward By Staying Still

Home Is Where He Isn't, Anymore

Near the end of the long (looooonnnng) (stupid rain) car ride up to Pennsylvania on Friday, we passed a billboard for my dad's cancer treatment center. The billboard immediately after it was for the apartment complex where my mom moved after he died

"Argh," I said. 

Trips back home are weird now. I mean, PA is not my "home" anymore, and hasn't been for 15 years now, and my parents sold my "real" childhood home a couple years before that. But now that he's gone it feels even farther removed. More different. More not the same, more never to be again. 

And yet despite everything feeling so different, his memory starts looming large almost as soon as we cross the state border. The Phillies stadium, where we went to all those games together. That church we went to for awhile. The other church we went to for awhile. The summer jobs he'd drop me off at, the movie theater where he and I would go see movies that were too violent for my mom. (All movies were too violent for my mom.) The restaurants we ate at, the car dealership that used to be over there and that store that used to be another store.

And then. The hospital. The hospice center. The cemetary.

It's all right there. It's either something we drive right by or something we drive near and my brain immediately starts plotting the course. Right at the light, half a mile on the left. That's where we found out. That's where we knew. That's where he died, and over there is where he is now.

"Argh," I find myself saying a lot, then declining to elaborate. Just keep driving. Keep moving on. 

The days after we come home — to my real, current home — are also weird. I have vivid dreams about him, dreams that seem like they make sense before descending into typical deam absurdity.

Driving by my childhood home always makes me laugh because the neighbors who lived behind us are still there. And they still park a ridiculously oversized RV in a tiny parking spot that sits smack dab on top of the small hill in our old backyard, so every window on the back of the house views absolutely nothing besides a garishly airbrushed ROADINATOR WILDERNESS XXL V, or whatever the hell. The houses and yards themselves look so much smaller than I remember them, but goddamn, that RV really is fucking ginormous. My parents planted a row of forsythia bushes on the farthest edge of the property line and let them grow as tall as possible. The current owners added a huge wooden privacy fence. Neither option helps the view from the second level bedrooms, where my old room was. 

And so I had a dream last night that our minivan turned into a giant, almost house-sized RV, and we were all on our way to see my dad, who was sick. He was going to die soon — after all, someone mentioned, he'd done it before so he knew when to expect it — but then a hundred other people showed up and it turned into a huge party, and my dad posed for a series of hilarious photos wearing various hats and told me to post them to Instagram, but when I went to upload them they were all super-blurry and terrible.

"WTF," I said, when I woke up. 

And then I checked my email and saw a PR pitch — one of the dozens and dozens of unsolicited HELLO MOMMYBLOGGER I HAVE IRRELEVANT CONTENT FOR YOUR MOMMYBLOG-type emails I get every day — with the following subject line:

The Perfect Gift For Father's Day: Is your dad a baseball fan?

"YEAH, HE WAS," I shouted to no one in particular. "BUT HE'S DEAD NOW. THANK YOU FOR ASKING."




Argh, indeed.

We used to have yellow cards. Each school year, we'd have to fill out our emergency contact information for the school to keep on file. My mom died in August right before the start of my sophomore year of HS, but the first actual year in the HS building. When I was a senior, I got sick. Very sick, and was out for several days in a row. Of course my father, who could barely cope with working and the barest minimum of taking care of my younger sister and me, didnt call the school to let them know, so they called my house. And asked for my mother, the same mother who we marked in black sharpie in big letters "DECEASED" on the yellow card they were supposed to look at to find our number. I couldn't take it anymore, I was sick, so I yelled "You'll have to go to Parklawn Cemetery to talk to her!" and slammed the phone down. Not my best moment, but I had too many memories every day, too many reminders that she wasn't there.

All that to say, I feel you, and wish you peace.


The usual aggravating things tend to be made unbelievably grating in the midst of still feeling a loss. I ain't got no other words to say other than I'm sorry, because I still am, will always be, so I'ma stop talking.


There's a scene in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" where Leonardo di Caprio's character sort of flips out and starts shouting manically "Dad's dead! Dad's dead, Gilbert!" Whenever my dad being gone gets to me, I yell that in my car. I think it helps because sometimes the only thing that makes sense is rueful, maniacal yelling.


Augh is right.

The solace I get nowadays is that my husband is a dad and thus, the Father's day stuff is about him, but that took a long time (about 5 years) after my dad died.

The nonsense ones I get are for every holiday, large and small. The photographer who does the professional pictures at my University graduation events sends me emails for each one. Times two, now, because I've graduated twice "Wouldn't your Dad love a picture of you for his desk?" "Won't mom want a picture of her graduate for her wall?" Free shipping, even.

Um, I don't know how you ship to the afterlife, but if you can do that, I'd love to see the proof.


It will get easier eventually. I promise, but it will never be the same.


I don't have advice for how to deal, I don't even have any words of encouragement at the moment. I just needed to say, thank you. For sharing your memories, and your raw emotions, with us. My heart aches for you.


I'm sorry. I'm going through this with my mom now (stage four cancer diagnosed January 31, might live to see fall if she's lucky), and I have a whole new bonus respect for how hard this all is, how impossible. It all just sucks so, so, SO MUCH. Fuck cancer.


I'm sorry you have to go through this, Amy. We're here and we're listening and we care about you very much.


My dad died in January. I weep with you.



Crying at my desk... I still have my dad -but we have almost lost him so many times. I am so sorry for your loss. I bet your Dad is looking down, thinking the same thing about that RV :) and proud that you can make people all across the land both laugh and cry at the same time.


Oh, honey.


OMG, the Ellsworth-mobile is still there???!!! I guess if I ever need to feel a sense of stability in a changing world, I should drive by. It's only a 45 minute drive for me, yet somehow, it's never quite on the agenda . . .

Amy in StL

"He'd done it before so he knew when to expect it." That's the best dream logic ever. I guess maybe I'm lucky living in the same city dad died in and going to that hospital for my doctor's visits. We're going to visit him at the cemetery on Sunday. It'll be the first time for the rest of the family, but not for me. I'm really stressed about it; but maybe because it kind of pisses me off that no-one else ever visits him.


I'm sorry. ::hug:: Father's Day sucks when your dad is gone.

Cassandra in TX



My Dad died in February and the Father's Day ads are getting to me. When I'm alone in the car is when I usually have my weeping sessions. I haven't been back home since he died and I can't imagine how hard it will be.


It takes awhile to feel better. My dad died in 2006 and it does get better. Still sucks, though.


I recognize the feelings you described. Thank you for sharing them. The wounds do grow less raw, and some of the missing pieces get filled in by the love of others. I'd hug you but you'd just freak out since we haven't actually met (snicker).

Maxine Dangerous



My dad is on his second round of cancer and had most of his esophagus removed several hours ago. He's in ICU in Texas and I'm in Japan where I live. I'll be there in two weeks, but am feeling pretty useless right now. And feeling relieved that he gave me away at my wedding in December and wondering whether we should reconsider waiting a year to start trying to get pregnant. And wishing that my parents would stop getting cancer already.


It's shit and I am so, so sorry.


Yep. Mother's Day is painful. Father's Day is painful. Her birthday. His birthday. The days they each died. This past weekend a family reunion. It felt like a punch in the throat. Argh, indeed. Hugs to you. And me.


My 8-year-old son lost his dad last October to a sudden cardiac arrest. This will be the first Father's Day without him. I'm trying to establish some sort of tradition we can do every year to celebrate his dad's memory, but finding it difficult. Death and holidays totally suck. I'm so sorry, Amy. As another poster mentioned, fuck cancer.


This punched me in the gut. In a good way, but still... My mom's been dead for almost 13 years (fucking cancer) and I think that the dreams where she's still alive are the worst because when I wake up, for a split second I think that she's still here. And then it all comes crashing down again. I'll say it again. Fucking cancer.


Ugh. I am so sorry. I am in the neighborhood, PHL, and I get seeing the sights. My Daddy's things are up at auction this week, not my choice. I was close to physically losing it when I saw the pics of his desk, his chair, online. It hurts so much, I just want that piece of him. He had Alzheimer's, and I wish he could have just remembered how much we all loved him, and his gorgeous grand kids. Eff cancer, bum hearts, and Alzheimer's.


Ooooh yeah. Don;t you just LOVE Father's Day. In Australia it is in September, but I'm getting so many Father's Day ads from the States that I feel like I get two every year. Despite thinking the usual "it's just for the shops" there's always a pang despite the fact that I lost Dad 6 years ago. Fuck cancer indeed.


Last weekend I visited the village where my parents lived (both died within a year of each other recently). And what made it worse, is that I couldn't share the weirdness with anyone - they weren't there. That post made me feel that I'm not the only one who experiences the weird feelings. Thank you.


My father died several years back when I was 18. I guess I deal with it by using inappropriate humor. When my friend's father died, I welcomed her to the dead dad club. I also tell people that at least I don't have to shop for Father's Day gifts anymore because my father was impossible to shop for. This probably makes me seem callous, but it's just how I deal with it.


When I read this to myself, it touched me because I recognize those achy sort of dreams, giving us some of what we want but keeping most of it just out of reach. It wasn't until I read the dream out loud to my husband that the tears started to fall.

Melissa Lisik

Exact same thing here. My dad died 3 years ago, the day before father's day just to really grind it in. Tough time of year, but it's always tough, isn't it? I refuse to let the day have too much power over me. I make it about my husband, but dad sits there, quietly in my broken heart, all the time.


I lost my dad a year ago in December. In January we lost my husband's mom, and in February we lost his dad. The level of argh is still really high around our house. The other night, I was at a cocktail party with some people who don't really know us (and thus the whole 3 losses in three months story) and this woman asked where my husband was from and I said Florida, and she said how we must love to visit his folks on vacation in the winter. And I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to smack her with why we don't do that any more - and I just got this funny look on my face and said "We've enjoyed some good vacations down there." And I know she sensed that something was amiss, but she couldn't quite understand what. Argghh.


Yesterday, my husband asked me if we were free to meet up with his side of the family at 1:00pm for Father's Day. I said/grumbled (a bit angrily), "Of course we're free. It's not like I have a dad to make plans with anymore!"

Husband was supportive. And backed away slowly.

Thanks for getting it.


Ugh. Get it. SOOOOO get it. My dad passed away 2 1/2 months ago of Pancreatic Cancer... during his all too short fight I did the whole "fund pancreatic cancer research" thing.. I did walks, and made donations and blah blah blah... and here we are, two months after my dad passed and the foundation that I made donations to, did walks for, assigned their foundation as the charity to make donations to in lieu of flowers at his funeral... AND YET... I got an email suggesting that I support their foundation by purchasing my Father's Day gift from them! I wanted to scream "FORGET YOU KNOW ME!!!" at my email. Unsubscribe wasn't enough to heal the hurt my heart was - and still is - feeling.


My father passed away in April this year, and I'm still working through the "is this real?" stage. But I am finding myself very, very, very cranky about all the father's day ads I'm getting, because suddenly it becomes all too real. And I find myself realizing that this is going to happen every year - every year people are going to try and sell me father's day gifts, and every year I'm going to want to punch emails. (OK, maybe not every year, but I suspect for a while.)


My mom died of cancer last year, on Mother's Day (of all the fucking days). I, too, live far from the city where I grew up, and where she lived, got sick, and died. I have totally mixed feelings about going back there now. On one hand, it brings back all of the bad memories of her illness, but on the other hand, it also makes me feel closer to her again, for a little while. Hugs to you and everyone else going through this crap.


I saw one of those stupid Facebook things, "Use one word to describe your dad." Everyone was using adjectives like 'awesome' and 'strong', and all my mind could come up with was 'dead'. I didn't contribute to the thread. No need to bring everybody else down.

Virtual hugs to you.


You don't get it, do you? Do you have any idea how lucky you are to have those memories? Your childhood (and Dad) are a dream compared to mine.
I made peace with my Dad before he died. Happy father's day to both our Dads and Jason as well.
I wish you peace in your heart this fathers day.


my mom died in march of kidney cancer back in my home state of FL, and i feel like i could have written this post...less than 2 months after she died it was mother's day. it was wretched.

all good things to you this especially hard weekend, girl.

Kim Marko

Totally and completely understand...its an awful feeling that just never seems to go away... cant wait til this weekend is just over...


ZOMG I remember that RV! It is amazing to me how much those lots and the houses shrunk since I left. I love your dreams. It's how he stays close to you.


We got a letter from my grandfather's cel phone company the other day, "We'd love to have you back!" *facepalm* Um, we TOLD them that he'd died - I think we even had to provide a copy of the death certificate to be released from the contract. WE'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU BACK?! Yeah, well, us too.




We lost my dad a couple months ago. Sudden, terrible accident. For Father's Day week we are picking out a tombstone.

I'm saying argh a lot.


Thinking of you and, like so many others, suffering just a bit right alongside you.

I lost my dad in February after a 4 year battle with cancer. I knew it was coming, and yet everything I drive to NJ to see my mom, I am struck again. There's his favorite chair. There's his spot at the kitchen table. I just want to give him a hug and am struck anew every damn time that I can't anymore. It sucks. It's not fair.

Thinking of you on Father's Day. ox


I'm just reading these and I'm SO angry and heartbroken for you and everyone else who has to deal with this, at this holiday, or mother's day, or any other holiday that is happy and sweet for everyone else but feels like a punch in the gut to many.
I would sacrifice my hallmark holiday if it meant people didn't have to feel extra heartbroken on these days in a minute.
I know you don't have a choice, but to power through this holiday and the next, but you are helping others feel not alone by writing this.


Your post has made me cry so hard. Just found out my dad has Esophagus cancer. All I kept thinking was this could be my last Father's Day with him. He slept most of the day. Trying to stay positive. Hugs.

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