The plan of the final goodbye

Truth be told I’ve been planning this trip since April. When David and I began talking about summer vacations I decided I wanted to take Dad on a trip. When I was like 21 I started to do a research project for dad. I called the little town dad grew up in, Xenia, OH and spoke with the county clerk/town librarian for months. We went back and forth via email and she was amazingly helpful. I received copies of census records, death certificates, and property documents, anything you can think of to learn more about Dad’s history. I was going to put a big thing together for dad. That didn’t happen because as always, I got busy. I did process it with him and we had a great conversation about his history! I loved that conversation I learned so much.

 

We talked about taking a trip back to Ohio and up to New Hampshire, where Dad attended Dartmouth for his undergrad education. It was going to be a fun trip across the country. I wanted to stop in LA and see where he first landed when he came to California in the seventies and then just travel with him. It was slated to be an amazing adventure! He ended up getting married and my life as an adult took flight and college became a thing.

 

So in April when I hit that pivotal “four-month” marker of grief I decided that I needed to do something with the ashes that my mother had given me to take care of. David and I decided to take an anniversary trip and he was unable to take an extra 10-14 days off. He talked about taking 5 days off and he could fly back. That didn’t appeal to me so I left it in God’s hands. I prayed on it and knew that it would happen. Power of prayer is an amazing thing.

 

When my favorite blonde and I began talking about this ridiculous road trip we both quickly realized that this was going to be a real thing I realized I needed to put to paper the idea of what would this trip look like. The idea was to take the trip Dad and I had talked about and spread him along the way, minus going to New Hampshire because that’s a long way to drive. I knew I wanted to spread him in Xenia. That was the end game. Everything in between was up for negotiation. She and I came up with a rough plan allowing me to process as we talked and whatever came up became a thing. The timing of the trip was amazing. During the course of this trip the 6th month anniversary of Dad’s passing will happen and we will arrive in Xenia the day before Father’s Day. Truly like God wrote this out and said here ya go!

 

The plan is much less of a plan than it is a series of things that I think might work and things that pop up as we go.

 

  1. San Francisco, CA: When dad moved from Ohio he moved to Los Angeles and then to SF. He loved SF and had so many awesome stories to tell about it. He even lived with his brother for a hot minute. I was raised in the Bay Area, not SF but the majority of my childhood was spent in the Bay Area. I thought it fitting to start here.
  2. Las Vegas, NV: My father and biological mother played a lot of poker professionally. This was my dad’s favorite hobby, was really good at it and he was happiest when he could play cards. He taught me how to play poker and shuffle cards before I learned how to play Go Fish. It’s a thing in my family. So of course I wanted a piece of him to be in Vegas.
  3. Xenia, Ohio: This is where dad spent the first 18 years of his life. After college ended I don’t know if he spent time back there I believe he moved after. I know in his twenties he left and never came back. He wanted to go back. He wanted to show me his life, his past.
  4. San Diego, CA: San Diego is purely for me. I love water. I know Dad loved water so that was enough for me. I graduated from college in San Diego and he was the reason that I went to college. It wasn’t even an option; of course Jamieko is going to college. He made me secure with being intelligent, he encouraged it. He encouraged me to do so much! San Diego is often considered one of the most beautiful places in California. I’m going to Carlsbad because that is one of my favorite places and it’s closest to my college.
  5. Monterey, CA: Monterey County became home for Dad when he got married again. So of course finishing in Monterey is fitting. My mother asked if she could join and she had a place she would love to spread. Originally I was going to take him to the Monterey Beach Hotel because I know that the two of them went there often and he loved that place. I am excited she’s taking part in this process. One of my best friends said she’d meet up with us and join in the final goodbye. I’ll probably invite one more friend.

 

So that’s the plan and mini-reasons of why I chose the spots I did. Some of the stops I’m making where ashes will not be spread are of significance and I will talk about that when we get there.

 

I’m so excited that this trip is taking place! I am so freaked out that this trip is taking place! I am also so blessed to be taking it with someone who lets me be ME like Popi did. I can be messy without judgment and be encouraged to process and not deflect. I can laugh at stupid things, cry without having to be silent, have a serious conversation with, sit in silence, then laugh until I want to pee on myself again all in the span of ten minutes. I am excited to be taking Dad on the road trip we talked about for years. Here’s to saying goodbye ❤

– run JKO run

Interview this or that?

I have began multiple posts the last few months and yet they sit in my draft folder unfinished and unmotivated to reach that finish. Is it strange I’m ok with that? I feel like at some point I’m going to blow up my blog with posts from February, March and April. Yet here we are in June and none of that might make sense. Oh well such is life!

Friday was the first day of summer break. Well in theory Thursday  was but I did a favor for my supervisor and worked a half a day yesterday interviewing potential candidates. Interviews intrigue me. Not because of anything specific but just because you are often someone you’re not normally. You know? You’re nervousness seeps out, you’re trying to put your best foot forward, you’re trying to put yourself on display like some sort of show pig who wants to be purchased at the end of the county fair.

Being the one to interview is really interesting! Reminds me of how many types of interviews there are. How many interviews you do in your lifetime, daily even! You as a person who interacts with people interview people every day. Do you realize that? Your children to see if they are in trouble, your spouse to see if you’re still connected, your boss to subconsciously see how you’re doing in your job, your friends to find the right support, the list goes on!

The last few weeks I’ve been interviewing my entire life. That process has been intense! Almost like a life crisis without being upset about it. I was doing it very subconsciously at first but now I am intentional. Who in my life makes me a better person? Do I like doing this? Am I really friends with you or do you use me for support? Do you make me laugh? Where is my smile? A daily interview to ensure my self care and people I surround me with matches my lifestyle. That lifestyle goal solely to be genuinely happy. 

The death of my father taught me a lot. The major focus now is, life is too short to not be happy. Too short to be for everyone else. Too short to not laugh. My interviews aren’t for a job or for a potential spouse they are to bring my laugh back permanently. So here’s to the interviews that continue, to me being the interviewer and the interviewee. To the adventure of the next step of life!

Here’s to laughter. 

-run JKO run

Undefined Relationships

This week I’ve been approached by the idea of undefined relationships. I think the word relationship is such a loaded word. Like seriously, when I say relationship your mind goes directly to a place. I’m not sure what that place is but you see some sort of connection between two people. I’m not sure why I’m struggling with the word but it feels so foreign as if I have never had the choice to truly define a relationship and that is uneasy for me. So much so that I use it in quotes.

Relationships come with boundaries. Boundaries that can either live in the depths of your inner soul and you never share or they can be clear and defined and brought to the forefront of the relationship. Turns out it’s uneasy for me to have to define anything. What in the hell is that fucking about?

The one thing I have learned with my new relationship is that it fulfills something I didn’t know was missing. That frustrates me. I could even go as far to say that pisses me off! I think of myself as very self aware and the death of my father seems to have fucked me up more than I knew and like that with the changing of the seasons, hell the fucking changing of a shirt, I find something else out about me that I never knew.  How could I not know something this big was missing?

I have not truly sought out help. That sounds so shitty and pathetic. But I haven’t. I have worked through things on my own. I started running again. I talk to my husband. I have one or two friends who check in on me and I share with them but other than that I’ve been riding solo. Wasn’t until I reached out to an ex boyfriend this week who also lost his dad while we were dating that I realized I needed something else. I needed understanding. I needed clarification. I needed to be heard. All which I suppose is the hope of my connecting with this ex but since I haven’t followed through with that it hasn’t happened. So who knows if those needs will be met.

I think the fact that I haven’t sought people out and I have only turned to God has made me more vulnerable. More aware. That’s a good thing. So when my new relationship began to ask questions no one else asked it felt different. It felt intentional. I don’t know that in the 3 decades of making friends and having relationships I have ever had anyone be so intentional. Not even when, let’s be honest, someone was trying to get into my pants. That’s not to be misunderstood as my husband doesn’t care or I don’t feel loved by my best friends. It’s just different. I am loving it and so fucking terrified by it. It was/is clearly something missing in my life and I don’t want it to end.

It’s foreign. It’s uneasy. What is the saying? “You grow only when you get out of your comfort zone!”

So here I am building a relationship that is different from the start with someone I for sure would not have chosen. The intentions are so pure and probably for the first time this “relationship” feels pretty damn equitable in all things imagined.

So of course I search for reasons every other hour to end it. Classic.


-Run JKO Run

 

I am Distraction’s Right Hand Man

Have you met my friend Distraction? Some of you may know him well. Consciously making dates with him even introducing him to your friends and your family.  However, some of you may not know him as Distraction.

Some of you may call him Busyness. Or maybe family obligations. How about focused on work. Or my favorite entertainment from friends? He goes by so many names. His original name though, when you get to know him as intimately as I do is Distraction.

In fact I am Distractions Right Hand Man!

I met him when I was young. So young. I remember when he visited after my first heartbreak. That one after Scott and I had been together for 2 and a half years! He was older and I was 15. 15 and heartbroken and Distraction visited and comforted my soul. He taught me about working and taking college classes while being active in high school on the cheer squad, in multiple sports, in the choir, in clubs. He really supported me in my education and in doing well in life.

I am Distractions Right Hand Man!

I am tricked by his accolades. Jamieko you are amazing! You are the busiest woman I know. Wow Jamieko you have such a servants heart! I am tricked by him. I get wrapped up in how good it feels to serve others. Do unto others, I have been taught. So I undertook large projects, feeding 1500 people, building homes, painting schools, supporting the disabled connecting family members from across the country, coaching sports while working 3 jobs, I am a proponent of the little man. That is what Distraction tells me. I am doing what God wants me to do!!

I am Distractions Sidekick!

I remember when I was young he came around when Mom left. When I had to be shipped away from my Dad so I didn’t have to live on the streets. He was known as family then. He was the one I played with in the dark. He was the one who comforted me when I had to make new friends, again. He was the stories my family told me to make me feel alright. He made me funny, interesting, pliable and able to become what everyone needed me to be so I fit in. I became him so no one knew what was happening.

I am Distractions Confidant

When I got divorced my first thought was God what goals do I have that I haven’t achieved? So I moved to China, in two weeks. Teach! I know I want to teach over seas. That didn’t work out so I came home after a month because Distraction, Distraction he stayed over in the US. I was lonely without him. So I came back and became the best bartender and counselor I could.With him by my side my catch phrase became, I can make it happen!

I am Distractions Best Friend

He introduced me to so many amazing things. Volunteering, working multiple jobs, moving, running races and self-care in general to name a few. Lets be honest it’s amazing how he disguises himself as Self Care. Like a best friend he introduced me to things like Grad School and my husband. Let’s be honest if he had not been around I would have waited on both of those. But like a good friend, he pushes things, he helps me rush into things, he justifies everything.

I am Distractions Mistress

He gently slides his hand up my skirt, titillating me. He encourages me to focus on my impulsive desires and supports that those are healthy choices making sure I know nothing but to be by his side. He pulls me away from my husband with his intrigue, promises and attention and calls himself Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. He pulls me away from my family programmed into my phone as Work or Church. He is a tricky Bastard.

I am Distractions Bitch!

I do what he wants, when he wants. No fucking questions asked. I am Distractions Bitch. He is a tricky and manipulative asshole and I do what he says with a smile on my face. The moment I feel anything he pops up. He makes sure to comfort my soul. He makes sure I need him at all times because he does not want me to feel the pain, the loss, the heartbreak, the disappointment. He thinks he’s saving me from myself.

He’s wrong.

What Matters Most

What matters most to me right now is that I’m pissed off and sad. I don’t like all of these people talking to me, touching me, trying desperately to connect with me in what feels disgenuine. That conversation that is only there to fill the air because the fear of silence is uneasy for them. 

The need to touch me lovingly angers me as if the only way people can connect is through touch. In fact my personal bubble needs an invitation! An invitation that seems to be falsely engraved in my smile. My RBF (resting bitch face) seems to only draw people in more. 

I feel like my exhaustion of peopling isn’t being respected in a room full of 50 potentially grieving people. 

That noise! That fucking noise!? Who the hell leaves their cell phone on at an event about grief??? Incessant beep then chime, whatever it is it pisses me off. 

What matters to me most is I’m angry. I don’t get to be the angry one because I’m the nice one. I’m the loving one. I’m the empathetic one. Tonight, tonight I want to be the angry one. The one who when you speak my skin crawls. The one who actually wants to punch you in the face with a brick!

What matters to me most is I’m livid. Being angry shuts down the tears. The sniffle and the tears and the pulling of tissues that fills the air. The grief that envelopes the air is suffocating me. 

Shut up! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! PLEASE SHUT UP!!! I wish they could hear me scream so I could finally hear silence. 

What matters to me most is silence and solitude. Tonight I want the anger to end. Tonight I want the pain to end. Tonight I want silence. 

Make the days count

Have you ever thought about how we count life? When we’re pregnant we count life in weeks. Full term is traditionally 38-40 weeks. When we are firstborn life is counted in months. My 3 new great nieces are each 9 months old. When we live life we count life in years, I am 37 years young. When we are dying it feels like it starts all over again. Sometimes it’s counted in years like the 10 years dad lived past his first expiration date. Sometimes it’s months like the 3-6 months he was given on his 3rd and final expiration date. Sometimes it comes down to weeks like the 6 weeks my Dad ended up living after that “big family meeting” talking about how it was different this time. And finally, days like the 2 1/2 days dad lived after his “Surge”.

Now that dad is gone I find myself counting again. First it was two days since Dad died, then two weeks since Dad’s been gone, today it’s been two months since Dad passed. Happy Valentine’s Day to me.

So I think today what do I count now?

I have many choices in dealing with my grief and I choose to continue to count! Today is my new day to be. Yes I’m sad. Yes I’m still tired. But I still choose to count! Count the times I go to bed smiling. Count the times I get to talk to one of my 8 siblings. Count the days that my husband tells me he loves me. Count the letters I receive from students saying thank you in some small way. Count the days that I can love myself the way my dad loved me. Count the days that I can wake up and workout focusing on making my body stronger and healthier. Count the days that I cook for myself knowing that’s one of my many skills and love languages. Count the days I really practice what I preach and take time for self-care.

So now I count everything because everything counts. Dad had surpassed all trials and tribulations while sick and so when he was given 3-6 months I knew something was different and yet I still thought I had time. I’ll never forget how those 3-6 months turned into 6 weeks. Six very, very quick weeks. So now I count everything because everything counts! Every year, every month, every week, every day, hell every minute counts!

Every time I don’t love on me I feel like that counts against everything Dad instilled in me. Every second he loved me I have a chance to love me too.

As the great Muhammad Ali said, “Don’t count the days. Make the days count!”

 

IMG_1419.JPG

Grief feels like Fear

I’m in a writing group for grief. There I said it. I’m in a support group. That sounds weird to me. Not because I’m opposed to support groups or group therapy. I’m just confused as to how I found myself in one.  It just sounds so weird. So many years of complaining about the lack of self-care and finally when the shit hits the fan and I hit my knees I finally find support. Just seems weird.

C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed, wrote “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” This is the newest prompt. How does this make you feel? What does this bring up for me? Yada yada yada…

What does it bring up for me? God knows I can’t share all of that publicly but I can say emphatically that grief has brought more fear than I ever knew I could feel.


When Popi first died I feared falling asleep. I didn’t want to have to face another day. You know? That dread of waking up to a new reality. The reality without him. The one that said I didn’t do enough, say enough, spend enough time. The reality that says everything is different. I feared falling asleep and having to wake up.

I feared going home. I feared walking into my parent’s house and having to be happy. I feared having to go through his stuff. I feared having to be that vulnerable again and possibly breaking down again because I saw his shirt, his books, his photo, his notes all over the house, or his side of the bed where he spent most of this last year. I feared that being in that space meant I had to feel a particular way. I feared being fake.

As the days and weeks have passed I have I have learned to fear sleep and going home less. In fact I now look forward to both. Some days I won’t lie I do fear sleep but that’s still a mystery as to why. Going home, not so bad. I enjoy time with family and it’s ok dad’s not there. I mean he spent most of the last year asleep or resting in his room. So his absence isn’t much different. 

I will tell you the thing that grief has made me fear the most to which I am also most surprised at, is joy. I fear any sort of joy. I fear being happy. I fear being in a good mood. I fear a good night’s sleep and a good workout. I fear crossing the finish line at my Half Marathon in March. I fear promotions and making new friends. I fear presentations and connections. I fear finishing my first book and when it gets published. I fear good music and good weather. I fear funny moments and the ridiculous ones. I fear anything that might possibly make me happy. I fear with all my heart that moment I finally learn I’m pregnant and that moment that our child breathes their first breath. I fear joy.

I fear pure joy. I fear this because those are the moments when I miss him the most. Those are the moments which I pick up my phone to shoot a quick text. Those are the moments I start to dial his number. Those are the moments I miss his voice. Those are the moments I hurt.

I fear joy. I fear joy more than sadness and hurt. I have an amazing support system who I can always turn to for sadness and hurt. Yes he was a part of that but he was the first one I went to for joy. He’s the one who’s smile I could hear on the other side of the phone. He’s the one who when he knew about it, it meant the joy was real. It meant I could celebrate and let’s be honest until he knew it meant it hadn’t really happened.

Grief has made me fear joy. This week has sucked and the joy I felt has knocked me back to the day he passed. That sadness and that pain. The joy I felt made me sad. So I need to run. I haven’t decided if it’s physically run or figuratively but all I know is I feel that urge. That urge to run. So today or maybe tomorrow I’ll go on another long run. 

I hope I can make that happen because I don’t like being sad. Now I don’t like being happy either. Not sure what life will look like now.

-run JKO run