2 years #SOMMERstrong

 I have been sitting at this computer for awhile pondering how to get all of these thoughts that constantly swarm around in my head out.  My life is so very busy with five kids and my poor brain even busier trying to make sure they all stay alive.  There is one thing though, that no matter how consumed I get, never ceases.  Dad. 

He is always just below the surface.  Swirling in the back of my mind. His voice not even a little bit faded.  His face clearer than it has ever been.  The dreams are constant day in and day out, even two years later.  Some are good.  Some are far to intense.  They are ALL hauntingly beautiful.  I adore seeing his face with such a vividness.  I crave his voice telling me to hit the curve balls and I like to imagine that is the only way he knows how to get to me now.  In my dreams.  Where my mind continues to swirl just as intensely as when I am awake.  I have been bracing myself for THIS day for weeks now.  The tears have ebbed and flowed in anticipation of reliving the most devastating month of my life.  I have spent countless hours in counseling trying to work through the heartache of losing the man who is the very reason I am alive today.  He didn’t have to be so incredible at 21 and take on raising his daughter alone, but he did. 

He was all I had ever known for so long and while Paxtons illness has blacked out a lot of my memory, the memories of my younger years are crystal clear.  So clear that I can remember learning to tie my shoe under my grandmas kitchen table with Dad cheering over me.  That never ceased. He was always my biggest fan; even when the “Jennie shuffle” came in dead last.  “Bean if we turn this race around you would WIN! Now SHIFT!”  As long as I live I will remember his sheer joy at seeing me run like a goddamn snail.  I can remember Dad having to buy me my own water bed (yes... you read that right, ‘waterbed’ lol :) because I refused to leave his and the poor man probably wanted some hottie in there instead.  So a queen waterbed I got...except like Talon is to me now... I still always made my way back to the safest, most non judgemental, loving place I have ever known; wherever my Dad was.  

Lord have mercy could I make bad life choices and he wouldn’t even bat an eye.  His love for me had no limits. Never faltered. Even in his busiest years.  If I called, he was there.  Love like that can never be replaced and I am beginning to realize that healing from losing a love like that may never happen.  Am I scarring over a bit? Yes. But am I still raw as hell 730 days later? Oh dear God, yes.  

I haven’t really gone into to much verbal detail about what it’s like to see your life force laying in a casket gone.  However, last week my counselor urged me to talk about it. She said she wanted to know...that it mattered to her. Hearing someone say it mattered opened up the gates.  So, after months and months of two days a week with her (and someone I could be besties with were we to meet in a different situation) I knew she meant it. So I sat on that couch and picked at her blanket while I ripped that scab off. I choked out detail after detail about how today and the days after played out two years ago.  The tears were relentless.  The tissues piling up beside me. There is nothing in this life; just like walking in to see your four day old on a ventilator with his chest cup open or peeking around the corner at a funeral home and seeing your 58 year old Dad lying in a casket, that can fully prepare you for how your world will instantly crumble. 

Talking about it and acknowledging those devastating memories somehow eased me. I left that day utterly drained and yet feeling lighter. Somehow, to open up and put those words out into the universe became a balm to my raw wounds and I knew I would be ok when today came. A gift I am so grateful for.  Thank you A. 

He was an organ donor.  Of course he was right.  What didn’t my Dad do to help others.... when we saw him for the first time since he passed away, we instantly noticed that his closed eyes were extremely swollen. I asked the funeral director why and he told us his eyes were donated to someone. Oh my heart. Those baby blues are helping someone see again.  If only we could have passed along that smile.  But then again,  I think he did... and it walks around in a 24 pound little girl who will carry on his legacy all the days of her life and perhaps her Mama too.  

So while the tears come when I expect and also least expect them; this morning we laughed.  A LOT.  I got my butt out of bed at 4 a.m. to head to the field where I spent four years of my life running and training.  Oh how those stadium lights as I turned the corner brought back all the memories of my untethered, teenage life.

Never though, without my Daddy just beside me yelling to “shift!”,  or ahead of me coming back to bring me through the finish line and most of the time behind me screaming “HOLD ME OFF OR WE DO IT AGAIN!”  How many of you readers have heard that out of Dads mouth?? Oh how he had a way of motivating us didn’t he?!


My Dads people have continued to celebrate, honor and love him and us through this journey. 

This morning before the sun even thought about rising. As the skies lit up with lightening, thunder rumbling and sirens going off with no rain (definitely Dad ;) parents and runners, past and present ignored the alarms and gathered around us ‘Sommers’ like hugging an old friend.

They made us laugh with dirty jokes and memories of the big and certainly LOUD goof that my Dad was. How someone can be soooo perverted, so funny, so giving and yet so tough and SO respected is a balance very few can achieve!  There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not BEYOND proud to be a Sommer.  I would scream it from the mountain tops if I could because, in the words of J. Cole, "damn they don’t make em' like you no more."

And as the sun began to set on this bittersweet day I loaded up my babies and we all headed to Estero High school to run Dads favorite loop with my Sister, my nephew and brother in law.  I actually wouldn't call it running, more like trying not to pass out in true "Jennie shuffle" form, but we did it. For him. 

And as I let lyrics from all of our favorite songs power me through, I thought back to all of the years I ran with him there having no idea what my future would hold at that time.  I looked down through sweat filled eyes at my angel in her stroller peaceful as ever running with her Mama. It's like she knew, but then again, it's in her blood.

When we finished we wrote our notes to heaven on orange balloons and glued our eyes to the sky smiling at the memories of him and the legacy he created right there on that track.  

I miss and love you MORESTER than any “morester” we have ever said to each other Dad.  Not a day goes by that you aren’t forefront in my heart and no matter how many years pass I will always celebrate you, your legacy and the love you gave me and SO many others.  

That one Sommer that changed me.... 


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