The eye of the storm…..


Like any experienced gulf coast resident I know how to prepare for a hurricane. In July, my father was given six months to live. As with any storm I knew this timetable could change. He had been a tropical disturbance for years brewing in the gulf that we all kept a weary eye on. And now he was gaining strength and about to make landfall.

So I put into practice what I knew. I monitored the storm day to day and made the necessary adjustments as it accelerated and the cone that projected it’s path narrowed. I made a plan and I prepared.

I thought I was in the clear or at least on the clean side of the storm. I thought all my preparations would serve me well. I had given up on any further attempts to “connect” with my father. It just wasn’t going to happen. So I made the best peace about him that I could. I moved into preparation mode and poured over papers and information about the five steps of dying, burial policies and what benefits would be due to my mother. I tended to the business of dying and the necessities for survival.

As landfall grew closer I wrote an obituary, put together a slide show of photos of his life and began to prepare his eulogy. So many things I never knew came to light as the timeline took shape of the life he lived and the experiences that formed his opinions and attitudes towards his family and life.

He passed the afternoon of September 15th at 3:55pm. Little did I realize that that would be the calm eye of the storm and that the dirty side of damaging winds and devastating floods would follow me home after the service, after everything and everyone else had been tended to.

I came home to my own fears and my own disappointments. The guests who came to the memorial service were a virtual timeline of my own life. Teachers, friends, family as well as ex-lovers and former friends all doing “The right thing” and coming to the service for a man few knew and many had never even met. They came for my sake and the sake of my family. It brought up good memories and bad from my life. It had little to do with my father. Memories of a former classmate and close childhood friend whose mother came to pay respects and to remind me her son had been gone 17 yrs. She wondered aloud if we still remembered him. I do – everyday. Teachers were there to remind me to see the life lesson. Family was there to remind me that it was my mothers grief and recovery that was most important. My friends were there to remind me that I never have to face the world alone unless I just need to.

I felt I needed to this time. I hid myself away from phone calls, texts and visits. I needed to let go of the man I never felt close to or loved by. And it was just one of my challenges. At the memorial I had embraced the woman I had at one time given my heart to and felt her momentary comfort – only to have to let it go all over again. I watched the friend I  love so dearly walk in and walk out like a brief blip on the radar.

I found myself trying for days to ride out the worse of the storm after the service. Battered by the winds and drowning in the flood waters I have struggled to hang on. And then it dawned on me tonight to take control. To not wait for the winds to die and the storm to pass because life is like a storm and it never really leaves. Like a merry-go- round it spins round and round and the closer to the edge you are ,the dizzier you get and the harder it is to hold on. I had been riding the edge of the storm and was exhausted and delirious.

A voice said…..”Move to the center. Relax and be calm”.

Can it really be that simple? Just change your grip and move to the middle. There is a peace  and quiet there. I crave it. I need it. Tonight I will rest in that peace.

I love each and every one of you


Copyright 2011 Juliana Wathen

14 comments on “The eye of the storm…..”

  1. Big hugs and sometimes we need the dirty part of the storm as well. Your an amazing beautiful woman, don’t forget that! You went above and beyond in all of this, like you do with all things. I don’t know many that would have done as much in a similar situation. You need to be very proud of yourself. You handled it all with grace, love and dignity. xoxoxo


  2. Losing a parent is one of the hardest things to do. I remember losing my dad, your Pawpa, and thinking I could be so strong.
    All of that fell apart after his service, and the grief just had to come out. I found great comfort writing about him and remembering the good times.


    1. That is probably the hardest part Pat. I can’t remember any good times. I remember when Pawpa passed and we all wanted a memento and were happy to have his pipe, a candy dish, a hand made planter, a Prince Albert can…anything was good to have. Wanda asked me Wednesday if there was anything I wanted of Denver’s in the house. I could not think of one thing he owned nor anything that produced a positive memory. I just said “No Ma’am”…the sadness of it made me weep. Our experiences were different but yes. writing about it helps me through the process.


  3. Knowing your history with your father, I had many thoughts of how this was going to affect you. I worried and worried for the friend I love so much. I went back in forth with, you will be fine and your thorn was pulled out of the wound and you would now heal. Then I thought, maybe it will be that you are left with a bigger gaping wound for never connecting as a daughter desires. I think it may have been a little of both. I have been giving you space to as I mentioned in a previous post as that is all I knew to do since that is what I needed with the loss of my beloved Dad.
    I am happy that you are now finding the peace you need. I still worry about you and Wanda and I always will because I do love yall so much. At the same time, I do know you both will be fine. Maybe more than fine soon.

    All my love, Belinda.


    1. Thank you Bon,
      I did need space and I am still hesitant to step out into the world again. I feel forever changed and I’m not sure exactly which direction to step off into. But I will figure it out.
      I love you and Wanda loves you. That’s all that really matters.


  4. True Grit, that’s what you have, true grit. In the end? What then? You’ll be taller because of all that you have chosen to do and because of the burden you are no longer required to shoulder. You won’t have lost the burden, you just will have just set it down and moved to the center.


  5. Remember J everyone grieves in their own way. There is no right or wrong. I am so sorry. And i am sorry i could not be there for you. And had to to miss J Giles. But i pray for my 3 girls…U, LAW, Mel.
    I love you and you keep that sweet little mama close….You need her, but she needs you more….After my mom , i hit all the emotions…..


  6. This writing is exquisite for your pure honesty and the guidance that it offers others as you allow us to share what’s going on in that brilliant mind of yours. We are all blessed that you started this blog! Hugs and cheers to you for standing in the eye of the storm and finding the calm.


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