And now, everything has changed

I don’t think I’ve announced on this poor little neglected blog that Ben and I are moving. We had the opportunity to rent our friend’s lovely home with the possibility of buying it next year. I’ll explain more in another post (and I’ll post pictures once we are settled).
My mom, brother and sister were coming for the weekend to help us move. It was Friday morning (the 22nd) , just around 11:30 when they arrived. We gave them a quick tour of our new house and headed out to the old house make our first load. We were not a mile down the road when my brother called and said “Stephanie, pull over we need to talk.” So, Ben pulled into the Albertson’s parking lot and my mom slowly followed (we wondered why she was driving so slowly). As they pulled up I thought I saw my mom and brother crying. I immediately got out of the car and met them as they parked. Mom opened the door and said, “Steph, it’s bad. It’s bad…Tom died.” The kids spilled out of the car sobbing. Erin ran to our car and grabbed onto Ben saying “It’s not real. It’s not real!” He held her for a few minutes before he even knew what happened. I grabbed Mark until my mom got off the phone with the fire department. I was in shock. I remember thinking, how can this be happening? What do I do? I tried to help Mark stop screaming as my legs were shaking and I had to finally hold onto Ben for support. 
This poor girl trying to go to the nail salon saw my family falling apart and came up to my mom to see if we were ok (seeing 5 adults lose their minds in the parking lot is pretty disturbing). My mom told her we were. Poor thing, she was probably shaken just from seeing us. 
I eventually rounded everyone into the truck and had Ben take us all back to the new house. Praise Jesus we were not far from our home. 
The fireman told my mom Dad had not showed up for work that morning and his helper began to worry, so he went to the house to check on him. He found my dad sitting on the couch and he was gone. He had gotten dressed for work and set his coffee in the truck. They think it was a heart attack. 
Dad texted my mom that morning only hours before: “Good luck with the move. Give Ben and Stephanie xoxo for me!”
It is a miracle the five of us were together during this time. I keep thinking how things would usually go on a Friday morning. I’m amazed at the orchestration it took to get my family up here to me so that we could all be hit at the same time. They had barely been in town for 30 minutes. God’s timing is so perfect.
God’s timing is so perfect…

…I started the above section of this post last Saturday, the day after it happened. I couldn’t finish. Somehow that day seems so much further away than just 8 days ago. But then, the next moment I can’t hardly believe my dad has been gone for 8 whole days. It just doesn’t seem real.

My family went back home shortly after we found out on Friday and dad’s siblings came a few days later. There was a viewing, but I didn’t go. I didn’t want to see him in a coffin. I can’t picture my dad as dead. I can’t let myself go there. I know his face, his smile and his bright eyes. I only want to hold onto that. My mom said my little sister needed to see him to make it real. I know it’s real, though I struggle believing it’s really real.

Ben and I finished moving (thank goodness for our friends, because we were so emotionally overwhelmed, we were walking around like zombies) and then went down to my family on Wednesday. We spent two days as a family and just spent time together. We didn’t talk a lot about dad, and we matter-of-factly handled the details that came up for his service. We hugged a lot, laughed a little and loved on each other as much as we could. My sweet brother, who is trying so hard to step up and be the man, did his best to protect us saying things like “Don’t look at the pictures now, you’ll just get sad” or “We can go over to his house later, I don’t want you to be sad.” Sweet boy.

We visited his house once. That was a strange experience. Without going into further detail, I’ll just say the last few years were really hard on my dad. He never really learned how to get on apart from my mom and his identity as husband/father. He spent his last few years struggling with who he was and what he wanted. His house reflected that for me. It wasn’t “him.” It didn’t speak to the man he was, except for the scattering of family photos and mementos on the walls. The birthday cards we sent him the year before were on his nightstand. I wonder if he picked them up occasionally and read our little notes of love to him. I wonder if the statements of “to the Best dad!” warmed his heart on the darker days.

I did ok going through his house until I got to his closet. He was in there. His shirts, his work clothes. I could picture him grabbing his green button up for a dinner with us. I could see him half-heartedly throwing a t-shirt on a hanger, not caring that it wasn’t hanging straight. So many little details that were him. My dad.

We had a small “Celebration of Life” on Friday. There was no formal service, but as Uncle John blessed the meal, he said some words about my dad and about why we were here that day. it was simple, no-fuss and warm. I think dad would have liked it. He was never one for formalities or stuffiness.

I could go on and on right now, but my emotions continue to overwhelm me, and I don’t know if I’m ready to process everything right now…at least not out loud. My mind is busy, but I don’t know the right words yet.

I just know I am heartbroken and so sad. I miss the man who my dad was. I wish I could tell him I love him one last time. I wish he died on a higher note. I wish this whole thing was different. There is so much I don’t understand. I am so sad. I miss my dad.

Thomas Gordon Sutton
May 12, 1961 – April 22, 2011

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2 thoughts on “And now, everything has changed

  1. Oh sweet Steph, I am so sorry. I know words won't comfort you, but I pray that you would feel our Heavenly Father scoop you up and carry you through this. Praying for you. xo

  2. Man-this brings back a flood of memories for me. I still can't go through my dad's closet, because it makes my heart hurt too much…I still long for him to be here, as I'm sure you do yours. I am so sorry it was sudden and you were not prepared. I think preparation made it a little easier on our family. my only advice would be to let yourself grieve, in whatever way you need to…if it means watching funny movies or sad movies so that you can cry, so be it! Give yourself the time and care needed to walk this one out. And there are days you will forget he is gone, and days where it hits you like a ton of bricks. Some days I just look at my baby and weep…because I know how much my daddy would have loved her. Just know I am truly sorry, and feeling your pain today : )

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