My Funeral Talk

Here is the talk I gave at my dad’s funeral. I wanted to post it here.

My dad wasn’t like all the other dads. He is the one who stayed home. He is the one who got me breakfast, made sure I took my Flintstone vitamin every morning, and sent me off to school. He is the one who was there when I got home from school. He kept track of when my library books were due, when my appointments were, and if I remembered to take my lunch card to school. If I’m honest, I was less than grateful for these things as a child, but as an adult, I see that this was how he showed his love. 

My classmates soon learned who my dad was, and I would frequently hear, “Taya, your dad is here!” in class. I would then turn toward the door to see Dad peeking in, holding something I forgot. He just couldn’t handle the thought of me not having something I needed, even if it was embarrassing for me to have him show up.

Dad was very organized. If I forgot when something was happening all I would have to do is look at Dad’s detailed calendar that laid out everything happening in the family, complete with a to do list for him. He was always working to make sure things were in order, whether it was in the house or outside in his meticulous yard. He took good care of his things. 

He was often outside tinkering on the cars. He kept the cars in great condition. He  tried really hard to get me to learn how to maintain cars. He would ask me to come hold his light for him, and explain what he was doing. I would roll my eyes and pretend to be paying attention. How I wish I had paid better attention now! He was trying to teach me some valuable skills that I could definitely use as an adult. 

Dad’s health was not good as long as I can remember. This caused some stress in all of our lives. But, through it all, I never remember him losing his temper, shirking a parenting responsibility, or making me feel less loved. This week, as I have compiled many memories of my dad, I have noticed that people say similar things: He made me feel important; He cared; He was interested in my life; He was gentle and kind; He gave of himself. When I think of Dad, the words loving, gentle, kind, and patient come to mind. Those words are the words that embody who he is. What an amazing example of true Christlike love he is to all of us. 

Dad wasn’t always good at saying the words, “I love you”. But he showed his love with his actions. He was always there. He was at my gymnastics meets, diving meets, piano recitals, etc. He was at my kids’ events. He never missed an important event, and he was always one of my biggest cheerleaders. He worried about us kids more than he ever did himself. Even when he didn’t feel good, he was there. He gave more than he physically could often, and he would pay for it later. I don’t remember him ever telling me no when I asked him for help. I’m pretty sure he was the same for everyone. Always giving. Not thinking of himself. When my family experienced the devastating loss of my husband and my children’s father, he was there by my side through it all. He helped me with funeral arrangements and paperwork. He came to my house and made house repairs, fixed a leaking sprinkler line, and was always there if I needed to talk. This fall, I asked him to come to my house to give his opinion on if I needed to replace a window. Instead of just telling me yes or no, he was soon in the window well investigating and cleaning things up. 

Dad had a way with kids, and he loved to have fun. You would often find him playing with the kids instead of being with the adults. He loved the chance to break out his old toy trucks. My earliest memories of Dad are of him playing with me, tickling me, and swinging me around. He never claimed to be an artist, but he could draw a good tractor. My siblings and I would often ask him to draw a tractor for us during church. When one of his kids or grandkids got a fun new toy for Christmas or a birthday, he would be one of the first to help them set it up. 

Dad also never claimed to be a great cook, but he made the best macaroni and cheese. He added just the right amount of extra cheese that made it delicious. My kids love his mac and cheese too. Other specialties were ramen noodles, frozen burritos, and fried eggs.

Dad was a tease. He loved to tickle, tease about crushes, and of course point out how his teenagers had “selective amnesia”. I asked my 6 kids, separately, for one of their best memories of Papa. They all talked about how Papa was funny and would joke with them. He would pretend he didn’t know where they were, which was quite hilarious to them.  Four of my kids immediately talked about how Papa would joke with them about eating their toes. He had a thing for feet. He loved playing with my feet, and he always told me I have the cutest feet in the world. Thankfully, that’s not the best compliment he ever gave me. 

He was a proud Dad and a proud Papa. He relished in everyone’s’ accomplishments and would often be found bragging about his kids and grandkids. The last text I have from him is one expressing pride in how his grandsons performed at their Rubik’s cube competition. 

It is heart wrenching to think of not getting his sweet texts, talking on the phone with him, or going on lunch dates. It is heart wrenching to see my mom’s sorrow that the love of her life is no longer with her. My parents are examples of true love. They have been through so much together, and have withstood some hard things. It has been beautiful to see my mom’s tender love for him this past week, as she has had to make decisions she didn’t dream she would have to make for years. I know he is proud of her.

One thing I always wanted as a child was for my Daddy to be happy. When we were young, Doug and I planned to save up all of our money to buy him a motorcycle. Of course, we didn’t know how much a motorcycle cost or how long it would take us to save up. We only wanted to make him happy.

The times I saw him the happiest are the times I will never forget: going to Lagoon as a family, going bowling, playing with his grandkids, spending time supporting his kids and grandkids, riding ebikes, bantering with his good friend, Brent, spending time with his Love, Kaye. He would always ask me if I’m as happy as a clam. I’m not really sure how happy a clam is. I’m very sad to say goodbye to my daddy. But if a clam is happy, I hope you’re happy as a clam now, Dad. You deserve it. 


I Wish I Could Turn Back Time

Have you ever wished you could just rewind a week or two and have a redo? I wish that so much right now. I wish we could rewind to March 29, 2023, when my dad first went to the hospital. I wish we could have a different outcome. One that my daddy survived and was making a speedy recovery. Instead, today we had his funeral. Today, everyone who loves him gathered together, sang, cried, and laughed. It was beautiful. But it wasn’t supposed to happen. I want him back. 

My family has had so much loss. It feels like the hard things will never stop hitting us. One of my kids’ doctors told me that warriors don’t usually get breaks. I don’t want to be a warrior. It’s totally overrated. It doesn’t feel fair that we have to say goodbye to yet another important person in our lives.

My sweet kids…I worry about them. It was traumatic for them to see their Papa in the casket. Maybe more traumatic than it was for them to see their dad. Maybe it was just too soon for it to bring any semblance of peace. But today they were brave, and they all said they were glad they were able to honor their Papa. I’m proud of them.

My kids worry about me too. Levi said the dinner prayer tonight, and he said, “Please bless that Mom can be happy.” They know I have a heavy burden, and sometimes they try to help me carry it. I wish they didn’t have to feel that way. We had a good talk about how it’s okay that I’m sad because my daddy died. They get it. Their daddy died too. And their Papa. But they just want things to be okay. So do I. I would really love that rewind. 

On a happier note, something I am grateful for this week is the time I have spent with family, and for the many people who have reached out to us all. This week has been a reminder that we are cared for. It feels like I need frequent reminders these days because life is hard, and it’s easy to feel alone. Thank you for that reminder.

Friday Number 52

Today is Friday number 52 since Greg’s death. We have officially made it through every week of the year without him. Tomorrow will be a year. Once December hit, things started to feel real. This month will be a hard one. Even though I don’t want to, I know I will relive the hard days that we had. I have already relived some of them. Since Greg died on a Friday, today is naturally a day that feels more like the day Greg died than tomorrow will. I can’t help but replay the events of December 10, 2021, Friday number 1, and compare them today. On that day, I went to work, just like today. After work, I went to the grocery store to get some ice cream toppings so we could have a fun pizza and ice cream night at home. I brought the groceries home, and Greg was there. He looked slightly pale, but I didn’t think much of it. He didn’t say a word to me about not feeling well. 

I told him I would like to talk to him, and we went for a walk. We had our last conversation, a less than loving one. We fought. He left. We texted back and forth, and he told me he was having some pains, but he didn’t think it was a big deal. The kids say he told them he felt like he was getting a cold, and that his back hurt. The kids and I had homemade pizza and started making gingerbread houses. Greg and I were texting less than 5 minutes before I got the call from a police officer that he had collapsed at his cousin’s ward Christmas party, and his heart had stopped beating and his breathing had stopped. They were taking him to the hospital. 

I arranged for my parents to come be with the kids, and quickly left for the hospital. I was still angry with Greg, but I didn’t want him to die. I knew that this was serious, and that he could die. As I was pulling into the ER, I saw the ambulance parked at the entrance, and my mind flashed back to the last time Greg had had a life-threatening event. I had had the impression that he would get to come home that time, but he wouldn’t the next time. I felt it, and I knew it, at least subconsciously. He wasn’t going to leave the hospital alive. I told the lady at the front desk who I was, and she quickly escorted me and Greg’s cousins to a private room with a social worker. Honestly, this did not seem off to me, but now, it is clear that they already knew. 

After a while (who knows how long), the doctor came in. There was apprehension and sadness in his eyes. I glanced at Greg’s cousin, anticipating what he was going to tell me. He sat next to me and put his hand on my leg. It was awkward to say the least. “I’m sorry, but your husband has died.” Those words. I still hear them so clearly. I wonder if it appeared that I didn’t care. I was in shock, and I was numb to feeling. I definitely cared, but I didn’t crumple into a pile of tears. I stayed composed. They told me I could see him, and I didn’t know if I wanted to. I was afraid to see him. I decided I would, just in case I would regret it later. I regretted seeing him. He didn’t look right. He was gray and didn’t look like himself. This is when I crumpled. I started crying loudly. I held his hand, and it still had some warmth to it, but it was starting to get cold. 

My brain would flash back to seeing Greg dead all the time after that. It still does sometimes, though it isn’t as frequent. I regretted seeing him because of this. I didn’t stay in the room long. I wish I could have stayed longer, but it was too much for me. 

I drove home with Greg’s cousin. I was still composed but shaking from the shock. She was coming home to help me tell the kids. My parents already knew. I wanted them to know so they wouldn’t be surprised to see me home so soon. I grabbed Greg’s coat to take inside, and Greg’s cousin stopped me, saying it might be best to not bring his coat in the house yet. 

How do you tell your kids that their dad is dead? It’s not something anyone wants to do. I gathered the kids together, except for August, who was sleeping. I simply said, “He died.” Some of the kids started to wail, and that’s when I lost it emotionally again. I served the ice cream that I had bought that afternoon to the kids. It helped them calm down a little. My dad gave us all blessings. It took hours to get the kids settled down and asleep. 

I never slept that night. I couldn’t stop the tears. They came for days, and my eyes were puffy and red for a while. I had so much to process, and my brain wouldn’t let me sleep. It was the longest night of my life. Thinking back, it would have been good for me to not be alone, but it was late, and I didn’t want to bother anyone. 

August joined me in my bed in the morning. He still didn’t know. I told him that Daddy had died, and he said, “OK. Can I go watch a show?” I am still not sure what to think of this. I asked him if he understood what it meant to die, and he said yes. We talked about it, and then he went off to watch a show. 

As we all remember Friday number 1, we intentionally make Friday number 52 different. We will have a fun night at home, and hopefully not have any phone calls from the police. We will enjoy each other and do our best to live in the moment. And I will take Ambien tonight, so I don’t have to repeat that sleepless night again. 🙂 

We are so grateful for the love and support we have received this past year. It makes a difference to know that we have so many surrounding us who care about us. Thank you.

A New Life

A couple weeks ago I decided to go through my clothes. It was supposed to be a simple chore that would take me 30 minutes or so, and then I could move on with my day. It ended up rocking my world for the rest of the day. I was totally unprepared for the grief that came up as I pulled out t-shirts and other clothes that I had forgotten I had. The Philadelphia T-shirt I bought at the airport just a week before Greg’s death. Greg got one too. The M&M T-shirt I got in Vegas when we went on a family trip. My completely holey T-shirt that says “I Love Boys That Recycle”. Greg always thought it was hilarious that I kept it. I couldn’t bare to get rid of any of my clothes. It was such a strange experience. I usually enjoy purging things, but this time I was frozen. I kept it all. I didn’t want to get rid of any of my old life. Those clothes are part of what is left of my old life. The life that is over. 

I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot the past couple weeks. My life now isn’t completely different. I still have my kids, the house, my job, my friends, etc. But it still feels like a new life. My old life centered around Greg. He affected every aspect of that life. And now, his absence affects every aspect of my new life. There is a lot of sadness about saying goodbye to an old life. The more time that goes by, the more I long for it. I still live in that life a lot, trying to remember what it was like. That’s part of grief.

When my old life ended, a new one began. I haven’t fully embraced this life yet. I am working on that. I can see that it is a life with so many opportunities and so much to explore. I get to choose what this new life looks like, and it is an exciting prospect in a way. I hope that years down the road, I will be able to point out all the great things about my new life with excitement. It’s sad to say goodbye to my old life, but excited to find all the new adventures and opportunities that my new life will bring.

Because I Love Myself

This is the last prompt for my writing class. Day 30. I have shared some of my writing from this class here and kept some of it for myself.

Self-love is something I have had to work on a lot. Over the past few years, I have focused on the ways I talk to myself, because I’m my own worst critic. I have worked on finding time to do things that I enjoy, and also having a routine that includes scripture study, self-care, etc. But I don’t really know if that made me love myself more.

A few months after Greg died, I had some weeks where I was really struggling. I was concerned about myself and thought I might need to seek more help than I already had. But then, I realized that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t eating at normal times. I wasn’t drinking. I was staying up way too late, and then expecting myself to get up early. I was making myself keep going, even though I needed to rest.

That was a big wake up call. I clearly didn’t care much about myself if I wasn’t doing those basic things for myself. I started focusing on basics and nothing more, and it made a huge difference for me. It was easier to get out of the slump I was in because my body was being cared for.

I logically think I love myself, but experiences like the one above tells me I still have some work to do. But I do want to love myself.

Because I love myself, I take care of my basic needs. I eat, drink, and sleep when I need to.

Because I love myself, I acknowledge the pain in my eyes when I look in the mirror. I give myself the compassion I need, as well as permission to feel and express my emotions.

Because I love myself, I move my body when I need to move, and I rest when I need to rest.

Because I love myself, I learn and grow and continue in my education. I let myself dream of making a difference for others.

Because I love myself, I work to keep my responsibilities manageable. This means I say no to some things so I can say yes to what needs to be my priorities. I find help when needed and accept help when it is offered.

Because I love myself, I continue to live. I find joy in my family, friends, work, and daily tasks. I let myself stop to enjoy a moment because that is what life is all about.

My Story

During an online class this week, the teacher split us into small groups to discuss a goal we have. I nonchalantly mentioned that I’ve been recently widowed and have 6 kids. It was important backup information for the goal I had chosen. Several of my classmates audibly gasped when I said that. I was taken aback by their shock. It is just a fact sometimes. Sometimes I can just spout it off as if I was saying it’s sunny outside.

But sometimes it’s not just a fact. When I tell myself all that I am dealing with, I am taken aback too. If it were someone else in my situation, I would audibly gasp too. Because it’s me, it just seems…normal. I wish I could tell people such basic information about myself without alarming them. It would be nice to feel more normal sometimes.

Because it alarms people, I avoid giving most people too much information about myself. That is part of why I write. I need to tell my story. I want to tell my story. I tell my story because it’s mine. I’m the only one who can tell it with my perspective. I’m the most qualified to tell it. To quote Greg, “I would submit to you that, out of the billions of people who ever walked the earth, no two people have exactly the same life experiences. Even two people who are best friends, who have done everything together, do not have the exact same story. Each person comes into life with their own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and ability to see and interpret life’s experiences in their own unique way…If I do not write my story, it dies with me when I pass away. If my story dies, all the lessons that I have learned along the way will be lost. What a shame that would be!” (Taken from Greg’s autobiography)

Greg and I spent 19 years of our lives together. That is almost half of both of our lives. I would say we were best friends. We were more than best friends. And even so, our stories are very different. We have been through so many of the same things, but we would retell the events very differently. I realize that my perspective is mine, and that sometimes the things I think and feel about Greg may not seem true for him. But they are true for me, and this is my story.

I write for myself, even though I often share it with others. I write to help myself better understand my story. I write because the pain and heartache and joy and happiness need to be told. It is important because it is mine. If I don’t, it will be lost, just like Greg mentioned.

Finding Common Ground

I recently read a book that claims that grief is an event, and that it is possible to heal from a loss. I have to say I was kind of bugged by that. It feels more true that grief stays around forever and describing it as an event seems to minimize the impact of loss. But when I really think about it, I think they are both true. Early grief ends, and the fog starts to lift. Life starts to seem doable. I feel like I’m kind of still in early grief, but I’m also not in a place where it is all consuming like it once was. I sometimes go back to the times where it was all consuming, but it feels less and less often.

Even the author of this book talked about how things still pop up to remind her of her loss. I call that grief, but maybe she doesn’t. She says her grief is over and that she has healed from it. I feel that she has learned to carry it but is still affected by grief as evidenced by still being affected by her loss. I think if we were to have a conversation, she would agree with me, and I would agree with her, even though the things she wrote in her book irked me a little. In the end, maybe we all agree a little more than we think, but we don’t use the same words to explain how we feel.

Happiness is possible after a loss, but grief forever changes you. I don’t think it’s something you can understand unless you have experienced a significant loss. For me, a day will not go by that I don’t think of him. I am reminded of him by the most simple things. I am taken back in ways I never was before the loss. My sadness is triggered very easily. I am tender and easily slip into a downward spiral. I don’t expect that to end completely, but I do think it will change as time goes on. I also expect to be happy and build a beautiful life, even though he isn’t here.

In the end, I think that maybe we need to try not to get hung up on other peoples’ words and see where we are the same. Maybe we actually have more in common than we think.


Clomp, clomp, clomp. I so clearly remember what his work shoes sounded like when he walked in the door. He had a heavy step with a shuffle sound. His shoes were so big and heavy, and he left them in some dangerous places. I tripped over them several times when I got up in the night. 

I got out some of his shoes a while ago, and they laid around the house for a couple months. It was a strange thing to do, but I guess I missed tripping over his shoes.  

When we first got married, he would polish his shoes regularly. He took good care of his clothes and shoes. He stopped shining his shoes later on when life got busier. I’m not sure why. I still have the shoe polish.

He had a pair of crocs that he liked to slip on when he went outside to take the garbage out or get something out of the car. They are navy blue. I still have them. He would never go outside barefoot. I think I am the unusual one here, because I will go outside in the snow barefoot, but he would never entertain that idea. He wouldn’t sacrifice his comfort for the time it took to find the shoes and put them on. Smart guy. 

He had some spongy yellow and blue flip flops. I still have those too. He would wear them to the beach and swimming. He loved swimming, and he went to the pool often. He was always excited to get as far into the water as he could when we went to the beach. I have fond memories of seeing him far away at the lake or ocean. It is hard to go swimming without him now. The shoes are not a good consolation prize. 

He had some walking shoes, and one of them always squeaked when he walked. He was wearing them on our last walk together, the same day he died. I still have those too. They were handed to me in a bag from the hospital labeled Patient Belongings. 

The last shoes he wore were white slippers. His mom and I put them on him before he went into the casket. He still has them on. I don’t have those ones.

Forgetting to Remember

In the beginning, I counted every hour. I counted the hours since I had seen him, then the days, then the weeks, and now the months. When I was counting the weeks, every Friday, I would add up the days. 77 days, then 84, 91. They kept adding up. I would relive the events from that fateful Friday. For a while, we continued to do our pizza nights on Fridays, but we don’t anymore. That slipped away without me even realizing. I forgot to remember. 

Now the months are what I count. We’re at 8.5 right now. On the 10th of each month, I relive the events of that Friday. I feel both amazed and confused that so much time has passed. I imagine I will stop counting months at around 2 years, just like you stop counting a baby’s months around then. And then I will count the years. That feels like such a big change, to jump from months to years. But I imagine it will feel just fine when I get to that point.

The grief has changed too. At first, it was all-encompassing. I felt like it was my job to be sad. I couldn’t be much else. Slowly, that sadness turned to anger, and then I was able to get some relief. It’s like I went from being underwater in the churning ocean to letting my head stay on top of the water, bobbing up and down with the waves. I would still occasionally go underwater with the strongest waves, and I still do.  I started to find moments of happiness. I felt guilty for that. I felt like Greg would have wanted me to be sad because that would show him that he mattered to me. I feel like I am over that guilt now. I still have moments of all-encompassing grief and days when I’m a wreck, but they are spreading out.

I have experienced some of those moments of forgetting to remember, as I have started a life without him. At first, I would think of how his shoes sounded every day when he would have been coming home from work. I would include him in my thoughts about what he would like for dinner. I would always predict how he would react to a kid’s antics. As time has gone on, I still do those things, but it isn’t as constant. I imagine him with me often, and try to remember his presence, but since he is not here, he will continue to be less and less included in my day to do events. 

I can’t imagine that a day will go by that I don’t think of him. Some days he consumes my thoughts, and other days, he is just there in the background. I know that the ways I think of him will change, as I have experienced that in the past 8.5 months. I would be sad if there was a day that went by without him coming to my mind at least once. I don’t think it will happen. Ever. I really don’t. But I am sure that as the years go on, and as he is less tangibly involved in my life, the thoughts will slow down. He will not consume my thoughts as often. He may come to my mind only once or twice a day. I don’t know.

How do I feel about this phenomenon of forgetting to remember? Honestly, I feel okay with it. I think that guilting myself about it is cruel. I didn’t always feel that way. My mind has played tricks on me, making me feel that there was something wrong with finding happiness or not thinking about him all the time. But if I am to continue in my life, it feels peaceful to have the consuming thoughts and emotions fade. It really is torturous in so many ways, so I look forward to the peace that more time will bring.

Grief is Everywhere

Grief is everywhere. I have 19 years of memories, so how could it not be? Try me. Point out anything, and I will tell you how grief is there. Grief is in every corner and crevice of my home. I can look at any item in my home and find the grief in it, whether it comes from a memory or from the fact that Greg will never see or touch it. 

So many memories. So much has been lost.

Grief is in every place I go. Greg went to most of these places too. I can look at each neighbor’s home and think of a memory, or even just the fact that Greg knew them. I find grief driving around town and seeing the places we visited together, and the ones we didn’t.

Grief is at the grocery store. There are certain things I won’t buy anymore because they remind me too much of him. There are memories at the grocery store. For our last anniversary, we went to Walmart and chose some Otter Pops in memory of our first fight, which happened to be over Otter Pops. Grief is in Otter Pops. 

Today I went to the city arts center (somewhere I rarely go, and he rarely went), and was hit by a memory of us making plans the last time we were there together. Plans that never happened. Grief is truly everywhere. 

Grief is in my interactions with others. It is in my children, some of whom look a lot like their dad. It is in the reality that I could lose them any moment. Grief is in my friendships. Sometimes I don’t want to talk. I am so tender and touchy. I know I can be hard to be friends with right now. I’m sorry. Grief is in gatherings. I usually avoid them because grief is everywhere.

If I were to move, I know that grief would still be everywhere. It would still be at the grocery store, and in the home he never set foot in. It would still be in my neighborhood. There is no escaping it. 

Grief is in each day. It is in the holidays, birthdays, and celebrations. It is in the days when nothing much is going on. It is in the weekends and the weekdays. Grief is in the fact that next month I will be the same age as he was. I will soon pass him in age, and then I will continue to get older than him. There is grief in that. 

Grief is truly everywhere. I think it may always be, though I hope time will soften it.