There is no mistaking that it’s winter here in Chicago. The blizzard of 2011 dumped 20” of snow in the last 24 hours and it’s about to dip down below zero with -20 wind chills. I hated winter before the deaths of my children but for some reason winters have become even more difficult for me. Maybe it’s the dark cold days. Sunshine has been pretty much non existent for about a month and when it is sunny, it’s too cold to be outside. However, I hold on to the fact that Spring is not far off. Like clockwork, over the last 4 years, my winter crocus starts to peak through the ground and bloom around March 12th and the days start to get a little longer and the sunshine gets a little warmer. The sound of snow melting off the roof of my house is like music to my ears.
Ever year at this time I ask myself why I continue to live in an area I despise, both from the weather and the overall number of people that live here. Most people, where I live in the suburbs, are transplants from somewhere else and are here only to make money. Like many of them, I moved here about 17 years ago for the allure of a career and the chance to climb the ladder and make money. The death of my two children taught me a lesson that can only be learned from going through something so horrific. It’s a simple lesson that we make so complex. The lesson is that these “things” really do not matter in the grand scheme of life. Yeah, I still have my “career” but it I don’t sit around thinking about my next raise or promotion or how I could go to work somewhere else and make more money. I don’t think about them because first of all they cause me stress that my mind and body cannot handle anymore. It’s now a pay check, that’s all it is. I am not passionate about doing my work which makes it hard to show up everyday. I keep telling myself just a little bit more. I think I have reached my end of the road.
I find myself asking the question “how much is enough?”. At what point in time do I just pack-up, sell my house and move somewhere that is much cheaper to live. Buy a small house in a place where life is simpler, a place where the weather is better and not everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere else. Does this place exist? And if it does, where is it located? I still hold out hope in my mind that it does and I will find it. Problem is the thought of actually making it happen becomes overwhelming. After the death of my children, I struggle to find the drive and energy to make these major changes in my life. So I keep running the rat race. A race no one ever wins, they just eventually burn out or cash in.
At this time in my life, the only thing that inspires me is the fact I am working towards changing it. I know it will change; it is just taking longer than I would like it to. I am taking classes to obtain a Masters in Counseling so I can help others through dark times. This type of work is so far away from what I do now as an engineer. I get excited thinking about having a small private practice somewhere that life is a little less fast paced and of course the weather a lot nicer. This vision provides me with the hope I need to continue on everyday. I never understood how hope can be sucked right out of you after going through some of life’s difficult challenges. The death of my two children sucked the hope out of me. I never knew what it felt like not to have hope until after their death. Hope has since returned, but it is a constant battle to hold on too it.
This Grieving Dads Project is my way of trying to provide hope to the many grieving dads that visit. A way to let others know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a different color of light than before. It may be a little dimmer, but know that there is most certainly light.
What are you holding on to that is giving you hope in your life right now?