Monday, August 26, 2019

15 Things You've Missed in 15 Years


Dad,

It's been 15 years today since you died. And we still miss you so very much.

The passage of time continues to be a blessing and a curse. I didn't know this firsthand before August 26th, 2004, but what I've learned since then is that time can help lessen the blow of death. That's the blessing. The curse is that no matter how much time passes, I still miss you so much my throat closes up and tears sting my eyes. We may have accepted what we have no choice but to accept, but we have not adjusted. I don't think you ever do when someone you love dies. See. It's a blessing and a curse.

Over the course of the past 15 years you've missed a lot. So much that I couldn't possibly cover, but here are 15 things that I want to tell you about: 

  1. Kara had your first grandchild. A girl. Julia. I remember when she called to tell me she was pregnant because it meant we had to delay our wedding. Again. But I didn't care. And even though Kara insisted on letting the show go on without her, I told her that I had no choice but to get married without you, but I wasn't doing it without her. Julia was the perfect reminder we needed that life marches forward. She stole our hearts and took up some of the space that was left in your absence. 
  2. I got married. Tommy Sweeney performed the ceremony and wore your "formal wear" (read: kilt, knee high socks, fancy shoes, dress shirt and jacket). We got married on your favorite day of the year (St. Patrick's Day- obviously). Just before the ceremony started, it was cloudy and threatening rain. And then just as the ceremony began, the sun came out and was shining so bright that we had no choice but to take it as a sign you were there with us. We did a lot to make sure you were there in spirit. In fact, I think Katie and Mom both took some of your leftover Xanax. 
  3. Meghan & Rob got married. It was a beautiful November evening in New York City. Just off of Union Square surrounded by family and friends, they said their "I Do's" and once again, you were there with us in spirit. You would have loved their very New York City wedding. Most especially, the view. 
  4. Clancy came and lived with me and Steve. When Mom moved to Virginia (a little while after Jack died), it didn't make sense for him to live with her. And even though I was realllly skeptical about the whole thing, I knew that Clancy coming to live with me (someone who worked from home and could give him the life you wanted for him) was the very best option. It's hard to put into words what a gift Clancy was and has been in my life. He filled it with so much love and I learned so much from him. Thank you. He remains the greatest gift I've ever gotten from you. And I know you would have been proud of the way I "raised him." 
  5. Your second grandchild was born. Another girl. Lila. We were all worried about her having to follow Julia- a born performer with the most amazing curly hair that demanded attention whether she wanted it or not (she did). Turns out Lila more than held her own. She can win any staring contest and I know you would laugh and laugh and laugh at all her antics and icy stares and sense of humor.
  6. I made a second home in Ireland. I've now been to Ireland 17 times. Since 2008, I've gone every single year and some years, twice. You taught us that "being 100% Irish as far back as the family went" was the most important thing about us. And I've really latched onto this. One of my most memorable experiences since you died was in 2014 when I traveled to Ireland and met some of your family on Father's Day that year. I can't remember the exact way in which we/you are related to them. But I do know that it was so meaningful to meet your family in Ireland. I yearn for you every time I'm there and think about how special it would have been if we lived in a world where you'd meet me in Ireland and be integrated into the life I've created for myself over there. P.S. You'd love Gene. 
  7. Your third grandchild was born. Well Dad. It turns out you just can't escape girls. Your third grandchild was also...you guessed it...a girl. Quinn Eloise Reinhardt was born a week before St. Patrick's Day. Like Julia and Lila, you'd love her. She's smart and funny and creative and, just like her cousins, she'd keep you on your toes. I wish we could see you as a grandfather. It's hard for me to imagine, but I know you'd get a kick out of your three granddaughters and I know they'd get a kick out of you too. You not getting to know your granddaughters and vice versa is one of the things that upsets me the most about you dying so young (in addition to a lot of other things). Luckily you left us with so much to remember you by and so much to share with them. And I see some of you in them- in their humor, determination, character and personalities. You'd be so proud of Kara and Meghan and the wonderful mothers they are. 
  8. Sh*t's been real funky. Not everything has been sunshine and rainbows since you died. Mom being diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 1999 and your death more than prepared me for the reality that Life Is Hard. The quote we found in one (of your many) notebooks after you died said: "Life's not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it makes all the difference." While it's brought me a lot of comfort, it didn't prepare me for the ways in which we'd find ourselves at odds with each other. More than anything else that's happened in my life since you died, I think about you the most in this situation...wondering how different things might have been in you were alive to help us through the tumultuous time that's changed our family dynamic.
  9. Okay...not sure how you'll feel about this one, but...it turns out we're part Jewish! It's not that there's anything wrong with being Jewish. It's just that (see above) you raised us to believe that being "100% Irish as far back as the family goes" was The Most Important Thing about us. Well...I'm here to tell you that we're ALMOST 1/3rd JEWISH! Or at least I am. Last year I did some genetic testing (through something called 23&Me- which wasn't around when you were alive) and it reveled that I am 28.3% Jewish. More surprisingly, this comes from BOTH SIDES OF THE FAMILY. And as it turns out, you're more Jewish than Mom. Yes, seriously. (16.1% vs Mom's 12.2%). So, ya know, there's a lot to dig into there. But...crazy, right?! When I first got an inkling about this (way back in 2009), I told Kevin that I thought we might be part Jewish and he said "Oh! That's a good one! I haven't heard that before." Now that we have the evidence to back it up though, there's no refuting it! I laugh every time I think of this and wonder how you'd have accepted this news. 
  10. I lost a bunch of weight. I remember this painfully uncomfortable conversation you and I had, probably around 2001 - 2002 when you took me for a drive, then parked your car across from Roger's Motel and Campground in Lancaster, NH and told me that I needed to lose weight. It was one of the most cringe-worthy conversations you and I had. Not that I didn't need to lose weight (I did), I just didn't need you to take me on a special drive to tell me how you remembered me being so small and strong and tiny. I struggled enough with my appearance and was so self-conscious about it then. I didn't need my father to have a heart-to-heart with me to make me feel worse. Well it took about 13 - 14 years before I did anything about it and it included a lot of starts and setbacks and failures, but I'm happy and proud of the fact that I've kept approximately 60 pounds off for five years and I feel great. Because of the wonderful Corridan-like traits passed down to me (you know like: if it's worth doing, it's worth over-doing), I still need to be really careful and mindful about this. I know it'll be a life-long challenge, but I am better equipped to deal with it and am in it for the long haul. Also- P.S. I ran a freaking half marathon last October! (And I didn't get sick at the end.)
  11. Clancy died. This one hurts a lot. On July 11th, 2017, we said our final goodbye to Clancy. I had woken up two days earlier to discover that he could no longer get up unassisted and I just knew that the end was near. I wasn't going to force him to endure a life less than he was meant to live just because I selfishly wanted him around and wanted that connection to you. We (me and Katie- Steve was on vacation on the east coast) spent two sad but beautiful days giving Clancy the send-off he deserved. It included 23 in-person visitors and 21 FaceTime chats (that's another thing that wasn't around while you were alive...but since you barely picked up the phone when we called, I don't think FaceTime would have been something you cared about), Ben & Jerry's, steak, a Carvel ice cream cake and more love and patience than I knew I was capable of. We gave Clancy a send-off you would have been proud of. We surrounded him with love and photos of his extended family (including you, obviously) and when the time came to put an end to his suffering, my heart broke into a million pieces. For Katie too. Who was by my side for "raising him" and seeing him to the finish line. Clancy taught me more than I knew I needed to learn. He was so much more than a dog. And while my heart will never fully heal from his loss (just like it'll never fully heal from losing you), my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude. That I got to play such a big role in his life. That he was in important connection to you. That I was able to spend 4,104 days with him together in California. Clancy filled my life with unconditional love and purpose and helped me become a better version of myself. He was the greatest teacher and the very best companion. I miss him- and you- every single day.
  12. Papa died. For someone who just wanted to live to his 20th birthday, he had a great run making it to 93. His (New York City) funeral took place on one of the coldest days (and reminded me why I don't live on the east coast) and involved the New York Police Department. Up until the very end, Papa treated us to his sarcasm and wit. He had a long and wonderful life. What you lacked in years, he more than made up for. We miss him, but it's not like it is with you. 
  13. Sue died. Oh Dad. This is a hard one to tell you about. As much as I'm glad you missed this, I know you being here during this time would have been really comforting to Kevin and Susannah and all of us. This is really f'd up. A trip to drop her dog (Monty) off at the groomer's resulted in Sue being paralyzed from the neck down. I know. What the f? The accident happened just last year- at the end of July and she was gone by the end of November. I got to see more of Sue in those few months than I had in the years previously, which was a gift...but still. It was so hard to see her so unhappy and depressed. She tried hard for a little while, but when it was obvious how small her progress would be, she just didn't have it in her to keep going. Kevin and Susannah and Barbara were amazing with Sue. Everyone showed up for her- Meghan, Kara, Katie, Kerry, Casey, Sally...just to name a few. But in the end, it wasn't how Sue wanted to live. And even though she was caring for a newborn (the most adorable and beautiful and happy baby girl, Ursula), Susannah showed a strength of character and a dedication to giving Sue what she wanted (to die at home) that left us all in awe of her. Recently I've been missing Sue so much. I think the unfairness of how Sue died has worn off and I'm left with feeling her absence. One of the things I loved the most about Sue is that she had a unique and special relationship with all of us. She took the time to get to know each of us as individuals and created special memories specific to our likes and interests. It's hard to go to New York City knowing she's not there. But, like you, Sue left us with so much to remember her by and to smile about when she comes across our minds (which is a lot). You wrote me a letter once and in it you said, "You mentioned things we've been going through and how important family is. It's really more important and more true than you know, especially when hard times come along. That's when you'll probably find out that the most important thing in your world will be your sisters."  I've drawn so much strength from this nugget of wisdom you've left behind. I can't imagine how Kevin must be feeling with both you and Sue gone at this point. But I know that you and Sue left him with a lifetime of memories and love that I hope keep him company when he feels lonely. 
  14. I've raised a shitload of money for rare cancer research. For the past seven years, I've been participating in a fundraiser that benefits Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (it's called Cycle for Survival) and raises money for rare cancer research- motivated by losing you at such a ridiculously young age to esophageal cancer...and because of other friends who have also been diagnosed with a rare cancer. In your/their name, I've raised $175,481.34...and counting. Most people ride a little bit here and there and participate as part of a team. Very on brand with who you were, I participate as an "Extreme Rider" which means I have to raise a minimum of $4,000 and I bike for four hours. It's excessive and crazy and I love it. A couple of years ago I got to share my reason for riding before the event started and I said this about you: "I'd like to think that if he were diagnosed today, he'd have different options because of the money that we raise and the work that we're doing." You continue to motivate all four of your girls to do better and to be better in all aspects of our life. And it's an honor to have made such an impact and to have raised so much money in your memory to help others have a better outcome than was available to you 15 years ago. 
  15. Everyday Life. There's not a day that goes by where I don't think of you. In fact, I end every night by saying, "Dad. I love you and I miss you." And since Clancy died I've added "Please give Clancy a hug and kiss from me." But within every day, there's something that comes up that inevitably makes us wish we could pick up the phone (even though you likely wouldn't answer it) to talk to you. Whether it's a show on Netflix (man you would have looooved that platform) or a problem at work or a book recommendation (thank Gods you missed the whole Amazon.com thing- your bank account and marriage likely wouldn't have survived it!) or something I saw in Ireland or a photograph that Katie took or something that Lila said or a parenting challenge Kara/Meghan is experiencing or advice I need on my marriage or wondering what you'd think of the latest thing Donald Trump said or did or, or, or...we still have the reflex to want to reach out to you. You weren't the most present or emotionally available person pre-cancer diagnosis, but it changed the way you showed up for all of us. And I'd like to believe that had you been given the gift of time post-cancer diagnosis, we all would have benefited by having a closer and stronger relationship with you. We honor you and celebrate you on your birthday, on the day you died, on St. Patrick's Day and so many days in between. You inspire our physical activity and you influence our decisions. We hate that you're not here with us, but we do everything we can to keep you so very present in our lives. 
Losing you so early in our lives changed us. It has shaped our priorities and what/where/who we choose to put our time and energy into. It's changed the way we move through the world. 

I know you'd be proud of all of us- of the things we've done and of the people we've become. The way that we've truly lived life in your absence but guided by your presence.

There are so many things you've missed and so many things that you will continue to miss. But we will always keep you so very much alive and a part of all that we do.

I love you and I miss you,
Molly

2 comments:

Kara August 26, 2019 at 6:51 PM  

It doesn't get better than this. Julia and I are having a good cry right now.

Erin August 28, 2019 at 5:36 PM  

I agree with Kara. Molly, this is beautiful and a lovely reminder to all of us to love our family and beloved friends in the moment.

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