“I heard this Dolly song the other day…”
I have this reoccurring dream where I see my dad. It’s a different setting each time. Once it was in my childhood kitchen, once it was at the grocery store, once it was in this wooded area which might have been my mind’s very lose interpretation of heaven because Andrew was there too.
Whatever the setting, the semantics are the same. I see my dad, and something clicks in my head of “Well, of course he isn’t dead. That was clearly all a big mistake.”
And each time I call out to him, and sprint to him, and I am so overwhelmed with everything that I need to fill him in on. I mean, this person that I once talked to daily has been gone for a year and three months worth of days, and I know that I have SO much to tell him.
But for some reason, in that moment when I finally gather myself from the shock and tears of seeing him, and I can finally start to talk to him, I always say the same thing…
“I heard this Dolly song the other day…”
And then I wake up.
And for a while, this really confused me.
Don’t get me wrong, I know exactly where the thought came from. It came from about seven months ago when I actually listened to the words of A Coat of Many Colors, and I recognized a concept that my dad and I discussed a lot. My first instinct in that moment was to call him, make him listen to it, and then proceed in an accidental, but also intentional, two-hour long conversation discussing it, and life, and everything else that naturally flows from those topics.
And I understand why my heart desires that. I mean, these conversations ranked as some the absolute best things, and they are perhaps the biggest gap missing in my life since the day he left.
But what I couldn’t quite understand is-why this? Why out of everything in my life, every monumental change in the world since the day he left it, does dream me always choose this topic first?
And what I finally got to- I choose to tell him this over everything else, because this song, this concept, existed before he left, and I can stomach that.
A Coat of Many Colors was recorded in 1971- 49 years before my dad passed away, 23 years before I was even born.
Odds are, at some point in his life, he probably heard the song, even if he and I never talked about it.
Something in me can find rest in this thought. It is way less overwhelming to think about updating him on a thing that he might have overlooked rather than something that his lifespan missed altogether. I can stomach the idea of something occurring at the same time as him, just parallel to his own life. The other things, the things that are much more personal, the things that I probably should fill him in on first, those I struggle to get to.
I don’t know how to tell my dad about the things that his life didn’t have a chance to see.
Dear, sweet readers, I’ve heard you loud and clear. I am first of all, so humbled that my words have meant enough to you that you recognized when they stopped. I am also so uplifted and challenged by the many “don’t stop writing” encouragements.
And the truth is, I did stop writing for a bit, and the main reason is, I didn’t really need it as much. The reason for that… my life was good, is good. I was happy, am happy.
And this just didn’t register as something I needed to get out on paper. And then when I started to get it out there, I started to realize the steps that I took to get here, and in this realization came the ache that each and every step, though necessary, is a step away from my dad and my husband.
And I didn’t know how to update you when I can’t update them. Because in truth, every factor of my life, every decision, every celebration, every inch of thought leadership was once filtered through these two men. They were so integral to my being.
but the thing is, they still are.
So sweet reader, let me give you the spark notes of my life since we last spoke. Let me give you these brief updates, so that I can once again carry you along with me on my journey forward.
Previously on… everything Alycia failed to update you on:
- On October 12, 2021 (when we last spoke) I both mourned one year without my husband, and celebrated one year of my husband’s freedom. His parents, his sister and I headed to the east coast. We awoke to a LOVELY sunrise (Hi, Hansy), kayaked with dolphins, laid by a pool, shared a pre-dinner appetizer of cheese and crackers, drank our 1000 stories wine in a hotel room, and then we went to a nice steak dinner. It was the most Andrew-approved day we could think of. It was beautiful and painful… as this new life without Andrew so often tends to be.
- On October 13, 2021 we all began year two without him. Which somehow, doesn’t really feel any easier. Grief, ya know.
- On November 29, 2021 I started a new job. This job just barely kisses the industry my dad worked in for 30+ years, and to say that I get giddy with those sweet connections would be an understatement. The truth is, I’ve always been a girl who loves the world beyond this earth, and every time I get to research and write about space, I feel so connected to the roots of my upbringing.
- On December 7, 2021, I both celebrated and mourned the one year since Dad joined my sweet hubs. I went to a light show with a dear friend evolved to boyfriend (*wink* more on this later). It was the same light show that this same friend took me to the night my dad died the year before. It was morbid and tender… as this new life without my dad so often tends to be.
- On December 18, 2021, I joined some sweet friends to watch a Christmas Carol (my dad’s and my favorite story) as a little birthday treat. Before this event my dear friend evolved to boyfriend (told you he’d come back later in the story, you just had to wait one more bullet point) brought me to a very cold park where I was both frustrated and confused. He then said some words, dropped down on his knee, and further evolved to fiancé. So, in terms of keeping things less confusing moving forward, his name is Rocky… yes like Balboa, no he doesn’t box.
- January 2022– Life in a new season. Life of wedding planning again when I wouldn’t exactly say that I was the type of girl who loved wedding planning the first time. Life of learning who I am in two different relationships, who I can be in two different marriages, and what parts in these role are allowed to look the same. Life of doing all of this without my dad and feeling each crooked bend of my new life. Life of using all of this, the hurts, and voids and the gift of new beginnings, and the ultimate goal of bringing meaning and purpose to all of it, and trying to create something beautiful out of ashes that can in some way resemble what God has done in me. I’m sure there will be more on this later.
- February 2022– Much of the same. Navigating immense, though evolved, grief in the seasons where people forget that you may still be grieving.
- March 1, 2022– ULA dedicated a launch to my dad. On the rocket was a sticker that read “In memory of our colleague and friend Mark Timm.” My family all got to watch it. It was beautiful. A few minutes later, when watching the rocket on a screen because it was now out of eyeshot, a piece of the vehicle was shed, and it dropped into a place in the great beyond where I later learned it would promptly burn and disintegrate. My brother said, “I think that’s the piece that Dad’s dedication was on”… Morbid and tender. (I’m sure there’s some kind of blog symbolism in it.)
So as you can see…. my dad and I, we have a lot to catch up on. His life ended before mine, which was only natural, but in no way less painful.
But the point is- his life did end, and mine didn’t- and no matter how much that can hurt in a single second, it is in no way less true. And in that I have a responsibility to keep living, and part of that living exists in writing. And that living and writing tends to occur in so many of these moments that seem like he should be here but isn’t. But the fact that he isn’t here doesn’t make it all any less real. And he would be so angry with me if I didn’t let myself feel every inch of it all.
He would also be angry with me if I chose to never write about it.
“I know I can never really die,” he told me in one of the very last conversations that I had with him, “because I fell in love with a writer.”
Part of that truth exists in the moments that I share stories with you about him. The other part is when I share the stories that occur after him… because in so much of who I am, he continues anyways.
So yes, I have so much to fill him in on one day when I finally get to that wooded place that my dream-mind seems to think is heaven. Odds are, when I’m finally reunited with him, it’s going to take a lot longer than our usual two-hour conversation. But the good news is, at that point in time, we’ll have eternity.