I am not even going to pretend like today is another day. I have a terrible poker face and would not feel or be authentic if I blogged about anything other than what I’m feeling today and that is overwhelming grief.
I have been using writing as an outlet ever since I can remember. Writing is what I always fall back on when I can’t think of anything to say out loud. It’s pretty much the only thing I’m able to do when I’m in pain. Somehow the words flow onto paper (or through a keyboard) much more easily. If you prefer more lighthearted topics, I invite you to please enjoy many of the other upbeat, positive and helpful posts that I have here using the navigation bar up top. If you’d like to continue reading, then please do.
Late yesterday morning my mom called to notify me that my stepdad had passed away in his sleep. My stepdad was somebody I grew up with for most of my childhood. He and my mom married on Valentine’s Day in 1992, just a month shy of my 9th birthday. My mom and stepdad had my youngest sister in 1998. I lived with my mom and stepdad until I moved out in my late teens and then briefly again after I had my Blakey in 2003.
I wasn’t particularly close to my stepdad as of late but I guess I think that’s pretty irrelevant and I’m completely entitled to the grief I’m feeling today. I think my relationship with him was complicated after he and my mom divorced. It’s always been hard to navigate those waters. I worried about my mom’s feelings but at the same time, have always had great love and appreciation for him. He was there for me when a lot of people turned their backs. Roger and I invited him to our wedding in 2009 (and several members of his family) and they ALL came. It meant a lot to me, probably more than I ever was able to express at the time but I hope they knew that. My stepdad and I had been in touch a handful of times since then and one of them, I’ll never forget (more on that below).
It completely breaks my heart that my baby sister has lost her father. She is 16 and has been wrapped around his finger since she took her first breath. I cried a lot yesterday but felt shock more than anything. Reality always seems to hit the next day when you wake up and get hit with reality when you remember what you learned the day before. It hit me like a bus this morning. I managed to get all the kids ready and off to school but as soon as I dropped G and miss G off at school, I bawled all the way home.
I’m kind of at a loss for words as to how to describe everything right now, so I’d like to just share the Facebook post I wrote last night:
I don’t know where this post is going but y’all know I’m full of writing words and not talking words so I’ll do my best.
My stepdad, Mike Stromberg, passed away overnight. He is also the daddy of my youngest sister, Jordan. We didn’t always get along (mostly in my teen years) but he always had my back. He was VERY protective (which I hated growing up of course but now appreciate) and seemed proud to call me his daughter – even when I was at my lowest and acting out the most.
One of the last times I saw him was January 2014 at his home and I’ll never forget it. I remember us talking and he said to me, “See? step-parenting isn’t always easy is it?” We both started laughing and then he hugged me REALLY tight. Like he didn’t want to let go and I started crying. I’ll never forget it. At the time, I also noticed he had a collage of photos in his living room with one photo each of myself, joe, nikki and jordan. I was floored by that. Even though he and my mom weren’t together and hadn’t been for several years at that point, he still had her girls on his wall.
The point is, blending families is NOT easy. The struggle is real and as a stepmom myself now, I know firsthand how difficult and fragile it can be. I know that Mike loved me and I want my stepkids to feel the same way. That’s all I can hope for. That they don’t see me as the evil stepmother. I work HARD at this and it is anything BUT easy. I told my stepkids about Mike’s passing today and a few hours later Gunnar came upstairs with this picture I’m sharing in this post (and earlier Gloria wrapped up a mini Twix bar with a sweet note.) I started bawling immediately.
Family isn’t always blood. It’s LOVE. Because of Mike, I’m blessed to know several amazing Strombergs. Because of him I gained a brother and another little sister. Because of him boyfriends were scared. Because of him we caught my “friends” trying to egg a home with NO TREES!!!!!!!!
RIP Mike. I will love you and miss you ALWAYS. heart emoticon Please give Diesel some love for me…I promise he won’t bite your nose!
Hugs and love and prayers to all of the Stromberg family!!! XOXOXOXO
Honestly, I am so ready to say PEACE OUT! to 2015 but in a great effort to keep my head up… I’ve been immersing myself into music, quotes and my tear-soaked sleeves.
I have played this song a million times today:
I’m doing a lot of just laying here. :(
The part that keeps playing over and over in my head is, “I need your grace… to remind me… to find my own…”
As an adult looking back on growing up as a stepchild and then becoming a stepparent myself, I have so much respect for the stepdad I had. Step-parenting is HARD. You don’t know how difficult that position is unless and until you’re in it. I’ll never be able to thank him again personally for always being there for me and for always loving and caring for me. There’s just so much more that I wished I had said to him.
I don’t really know what else to say at this point so I’ll just share some quotes related to grief that I’ve been reading through today and I hope they help to bring a little bit of peace to somebody who needs it today as much as I do right now.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~Washington Irving
Grief is the price we pay for love. ~Queen Elizabeth II
Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. ~Anne Roiphe
There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief. ~Aeschylus
Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. ~Vicki Harrison
I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo. ~Sylvia Plath
The death of loved ones often awakens the death inside of us. ~Sandra Chami Kassis
I’m exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel.
Grief is like an earthquake. The first one hits you and the world falls apart. Even after you put the world together again there are aftershocks, and you never really know when those will come. ~Author Unknown
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
I hope you’re resting peacefully Mike.
I’m still in disbelief.
Please give Diesel a pat for me.
I love you and will miss you always.