Remembering Doria

One Father's Journey after the Death of his Daughter

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Can You Measure Victory?

I was surprised today. Tuesday each week is devoted entirely to my dissertation research, and the last couple of weeks have seen all kinds of dramatic finds. Often, the Tuesday are amazing, dramatic wins, and the other days end up with a lot of professional victory in this, too.

Then came today. I got off to a slow start, then took my microfiche to the scanners to capture some images. Good enough, but the images weren’t clear enough to use, so it was kind of worthless. I figured that I’d do what I’ve been doing and move along to find things digitally, i.e. something where someone else already did that part and I can benefit from it. I was looking for another knockout victory, and I didn’t get it, at least not yet.

With that, I tried some other avenues for digging things up, and I was striking out. I might have found some useful things, but time will tell on that. All in all, it was not the dramatic victory I was planning on. But there were some wins yet to come.

We’ve had some nasty weather here lately which really derailed my nice new running habit. Since the ice is gone, I went back out there, and that gave a nice chance for a win as well as a nice chance to think about what winning is. I remembered when I started this fitness journey again a few months ago, today’s 3.5 mile run (with some pauses in the 2-3.5 mile sections) would have been a really funny and impossible idea. Today it worked out really well, because I kept moving forward through some really hard workouts and really hard times.

It made me think about the journey we live in this life after loss world. I remembered the day (2.5 years ago on the 17th) when we found out Doria was dead. The only future was to help my wife walk across the street, check into our specially-marked hospital room, and get ready to make those phone calls to tell people that our sweet little baby died. Then the future was to see her for that one time, then to bury her, then to stumble back into work, and so on.

I remembered the days 2 years ago when I couldn’t read a book anymore, and the guy that helped me through that. I remembered the stumbles along the way that kept moving my exam goal further back, and I remembered passing those exams, too. All that to say this: Every day isn’t supposed to be a dramatic success. Every day is supposed to be another step along the journey, and the journey will turn into a successful one, for us and the people we help along the way.

It occurs to me that this workday I had without a real measurable victory so far isn’t a problem. It’s just another step along the way, the same way that we all keep stepping forward through this process of grieving and living. Wherever you’re at on that journey today, maybe this can help a little bit. I just finished a runner’s high, so I might be carried away…….

If you’re brand new to this whole world of loss that you never wanted to be part of, keep living. Keep taking those impossible baby steps that are so hard. Find one of us to help. We’re all over the place, and we know how hard it is.

If you’re a few months in, and you’re in those spots that none of us see coming, keep living. Keep taking those steps that seem harder and maybe more ridiculous now that you’re “supposed to be over it.” Keep moving forward, even when that looks like it doesn’t get you anywhere.

If you’re considering that living isn’t worth it anymore, and you’d rather just get death over with, keep living instead. It’s going to hurt, but it’s going to be worth it. I remember providing a lot of crisis suicide counseling in the Guard, and all those people would agree. It really is worth it to keep on living.

The biggest thing here: Don’t get defeated by the days that don’t look as successful as you want them to be. Don’t hurt yourself even more than the loss already has. Keep living. Keep up the fight. It doesn’t feel like it yet, but you’re going to win the fight if you don’t give up. Whether you see it right now or not, you’re already winning.

Every day doesn’t have to be spectacular. Every day just has to be another step on the way.