July 19, 2021

One Year Gone

father and daughter sharing One Year GoneJuly 11th marked one year since my father quickly passed away from colon cancer. I wanted to have this post go up on the anniversary.  However, I wasn’t quite ready to write about it then.

One Year Ago

The weeks leading up to the anniversary of his passing were the hardest. In many ways, the lead-up is always harder than the actual date. The lead-up to his birthday (April 17th), the lead-up to Father’s Day and then the lead-up to the anniversary of when I got that call. I was driving home from the hospital, having just left him and praying for a miracle when she called to tell me.

No one ever forgets that call and I still feel soccer punched when I think about it.

Yesterday, I was going through one of my drawers. I saw his very organized checkbook under a pile of tax documents. After cleaning his apartment out, my mom came over and dropped off some of his things. The checkbook was one of them and I just sat there and cried over his handwriting and how perfectly balanced it was. My father was the most organized, meticulous and punctual man – everything I am not.

I have all of his voicemails saved, yet I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to listen to any of them without breaking down. Not that breaking down is a bad thing. The last year has taught me that it’s actually quite necessary to just let it out because it’s imperative for the  healing process. Yet the thought of hearing his deep voice (he had a voice that was made for movies), without him actually being here is still too much for me. Maybe one day, but I’m not quite there.

I have yet to go back to The Rockaways in Queens, where I grew up and where he lived since he immigrated to the US from Moscow, Queens.

Grief is Like A Wave

When you lose someone, you’ll often hear that grief is like a wave. It comes and goes and you never know when it will just knock you off your feet. No truer words have ever been spoken. There are days where I feel great and then I’ll spot something that reminds me of him and I’ll break down, whether quietly to myself (that happens a lot) or over dinner with my loved ones.

But I write this to say that it’s not all bad. Yes, losing him during Covid has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. However, his death also changed me as a person and not in a bad way.

I think about his full-of-spirit, infectious energy and how it positively impacted the room he was in. If I could take a sliver of that and apply it to myself, I’m already a better human for it.

Losing him  made me realize how precious life is and to really live life with gusto, like he did.

It made me want to tell the people around me how much I care for them and love them.

It taught me the importance of practicing gratitude because man, I have so much to be grateful for. We all do. These days, I focus so much more on the good.

It taught me to let the little things go. Most of it is bullshit and I’d rather focus my energy on the good stuff.

It taught me to genuinely compliment people, to pay it forward, to smile a little more and to tip a little extra.

Lenachka

As a parent, he left me with something that is so engrained in my memory: one thing I so vividly remember about him is that whenever I walk into a room that he was in, he was always so ecstatic to see me. Like THRILLED TO SEE ME. He could be in an important meeting with 15 other people and I’d walk in and he would stop everything and say “LENACHKA” (my name in Russian) and just look so genuinely happy. If I could take anything away from how he parented and apply it to myself, it would be that. As child, it was the best feeling in the world. He always made me feel so loved and I didn’t even realize how much that would impact me and the ways I want to show up as a parent.

They say that after a loved one passes away, you start seeing signs of them, but only when you’re ready. Not everyone believes that kind of stuff, but I really do. Only in the last two months, I started seeing signs of him all over the place. I mentioned this on Instagram a few weeks ago, but it recently happened to me. I grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens in building 333 and I have the best memories from my years there. A few weeks ago, Keith and I were eating dinner when a woman walked into the restaurant. I just happened to glance right at her forearm where I spotted a small 333 tattoo staring right at me. On top of that,  I happened to google the meaning of 333. 

Shortly after He Passed

I started (virtual) therapy which was so helpful. But then I  stopped and I really need to pick it back up. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the computer therapy thing. So, now that things are returning back to normal, I’d love to actually have a face-to-face visit. I still have so many things to deal with and talking to a professional, even via a computer screen, did wonders.

Writing this post made me cry several times, but it was so needed.

If you’ve recently lost a parent, please know that things do get easier with time.

You can find my post on grief here.

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26 comments

  • Barbara

    beautiful words that you chose to write this text. all the best for you and your loved ones.

  • Emilia Dobrydney

    ❤️❤️❤️

  • Gabrielle

    So beautifully written Helena! Praying for you and your family. I can relate in so many ways to the grief coming in waves, and you never know when it will hit you, hard – I am currently losing my mama to Alzheimer’s, and you’re right, there are no truer words.

  • Simi Kumar

    Well said Helena… I know it couldn’t have been easy to write. I’m dreading the time leading up to my moms 1 yr… and honestly it’s hard to even believe it is real.

    Thank you for sharing and sending you love and many more signs. ♥️

  • Katerina

    I may have shed a tear reading this. Helena, thank you for sharing these deeply personal and relatable thoughts with us. I still have these moments 5 years later where I see something and I break down, and yet many others where I smile at a certain memory. Your father sounded like a wonderful man. A big hug to you.

  • Samantha

    Beautiful post and you are so strong 🙏🏼 I am also Russian and everytime you shared stories about your dad and have him on your instagram it reminded me of my grandpa (he raised me). It felt like i knew your family because of cultural similarities, especially when your dad was teaching nate chess, that was my grandpa’s favorite game to play with us. Thank you for being open about your healing and we are all here for you❤️

  • Sara

    I lost my dad suddenly at 22 and it forever changed me. I love what you wrote about his joy when you walked into a room, I will try to remember that with my boys (it’s always a good thing to remember these little things). Your post made me cry, your pain from your dad was palpable through IG all year. First year is truly difficult. Lots of love!

  • Allison Barrett

    Thank you for sharing. In an odd way, it’s comforting knowing others are going through the same thing. You seamlessly articulated how I’ve dealt with my father’s passing . Beautifully written and accurate. Sending you peace as you continue to experience grief.

  • Chrissy

    Helena, this is so beautifully written. I unexpectedly lost my brother this year and the grief certainly does come in waves. I appear “fine” to the outer world 99.9% of the time, when in reality, I have a breakdown nearly everyday. Like you said, it really does make you realize life is short. I’ve become a kinder, more empathetic person because of it. I let go of irritations more easily. I compliment random people on the street. I’ve also become a more generous person. Going to therapy has been helpful for me. Sending you love!

  • Monica

    This is so beautifully written ❤️ Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us

  • Lauren

    loved that you shared this and how deeply personal it is. beautifully written too. love you! ❤️

  • Jen

    Helena,that sounds so nice and sad at the same time.A german songwriter who lost his wife said:After some time it hurts evenly…It will never stop but at one point you are sometimes able to smile when thinking of him and I’m sure he will see!

  • Etain

    So beautifully put Helena. I lost my dad when I was 18 and I always wish I had more time for him to become a friend which only happens when you leave those terrible teenage years behind I think. I believe the spirit of the person lives on to protect us and although their physical presence might not be here any longer, one can always rely on our loved ones to show us signs that they are still here, just when we need it the most ❤️

  • Tania

    Love this article. My sister died a couple of years ago and grief really does come in waves. She was the one who actually introduced me to your Instagram. Wish you peace 🧡♥️

  • Neha

    Very beautifully written. More power to you!

  • Leslie

    Beautifully said. Thank you for sharing with us ❤️

  • Zoe

    Beautifully written, Helena. I cannot imagine how you felt losing your father during Covid. I lost my father when I was 21 years old (I am now in my mid-30s) and oh how I wish he were still here. The part you wrote about your father’s excitement every time he saw you really made me tear up, because that is how my father was with me as well, his first born. I dream about him about once a year, and whenever I do, it is him just doing the things he used to when he was alive like drink his black coffee and tell stories while joking with me. I like to view it as a way of him visiting me and letting me know he’s okay, wherever he is.

    Sending you so much love. x

  • Melanie

    Thank you for sharing and being so honest. I’m crying reading this and I’m getting close to the one year anniversary of my own dad’s passing.

  • Blaire

    You are so right about the anxiety leading up to these milestones. My Dad’s one year is in October and I am already getting anxious. I actually mourn the days when I was blissfully unaware of how this extreme grief feels and has changed me. Hugs.

  • Lisa

    Your beautiful post really spoke to me. I lost my father 8 months ago and, like you, have experienced the waves of grief. I don’t think that they will ever stop completely, but I’m hopeful that the intensity will lessen a little over time.

  • Courtney Walker

    sending you so much love Helena. You are so strong <3

  • Diana

    I can’t relate with losing a parent, but my family has moved away to a different country and it feels as if I have lost a piece of me. Coming from immigrant parents, you see their struggle and all they did to make your life the best it could. As a soon to be mother, I hope I can be as great to my child as my parents were to me. Watching your stories and reading your posts on your father really makes me think about how I am with my family and how much I think we all need to change for the better. Sending you lots and lots of love always <3

  • Vivian

    Like you mentioned, my father is also always glowingly happy to see me and now treats my daughters the same way. I am embarrassed to say that I did not think of how precious this is. I will start treating my children this way and tucking away these precious moments with my father. Best to you, Helena.

  • Helena Meyers

    You are a strong woman Helena, grief is not something you wish for someone but these words you shared will definitely help others get through theirs.

  • Amanda

    Beautifully written–your post made me cry as well. I love what you said about your Dad when you walked into a room, I’m going to apply that to my life and son. What a special piece of advice! <3

  • Cynthia

    What a remarkably well written and heartfelt post. It takes so much courage to expose your vulnerabilities like this. Thank you for letting us in and touching our hearts. Xo

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