It’s late, I know. I’m usually in bed by now, but tonight seems to be one of those nights where sleep eludes me, even when I need it most.

We sat down tonight and watched Book of Life. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a good animated movie, and because of my fascination with the concept of death and the ideology surrounding The Day of The Dead, I was excited about it. Now, I seem to be in the minority when I say I enjoyed the movie…Most people I know who have seen it weren’t impressed. In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have liked it so much if it hasn’t struck me on such a personal level.

I started crying five minutes in and didn’t stop until…well, I haven’t stopped yet. Not really. The concept of being surrounded by family already gone is still a particularly touchy subject for me. It’s been almost three years since I lost my father, and it’s still too fresh. Too easy to get lost in daydreams. There are still days when the grief takes my breath away. Days like today, for example. The idea of Manolo having the opportunity to see his mother again (ignoring the cost of said luxury, of course) is one I’ve often considered. On nights like tonight, I find myself considering not just what I would give to see my Dad again, but also how I would react to the situation. There are so many things I want to say – that I love him, that I’m sorry I wasn’t a better daughter, that I’d give anything to redo the last ten years of his life and actually be a bigger part of it instead of being a stupid kid – but knowing how well I know myself, I know I’d probably do nothing but hang on for dear life and cry.

One of my happiest memories is dancing with my father at my wedding. I cried all over him then… I can only imagine what I’d do now. It’s amazing how after a person is gone the happy memories are the ones which hurt the worst. They don’t hurt quite as bad now as they did three years ago, mind you…but each one still comes gift-wrapped in barbed wire.

Since my father’s passing I’ve lost other family, friends, coworkers, and pets as well…more of each than I care to count. And each time I lose another, it rips the scab off the biggest wound and I find myself back in the middle of an emotional bleed-out. Of the losses, the only one I can reflect on and be happy is my grandmother. I miss her terribly, but I also had a long time to come to terms with losing her. She passed April 30th, 2014 at 90 years old, and after a fifteen-year battle with dementia. Her passing was a blessing in some ways; she no longer hurts, she doesn’t suffer, and she and my grandfather are finally together again after more than fifty years apart.

I attended her visitation, as most of my family did. When I cried, it wasn’t for her loss, but for the things she’d gained. Seeing her lying there, completely at peace, simultaneously broke my heart and made me smile. It was the first time in my life I’d ever seen her not in pain. She was beautiful. She was my grandmother again, for the first time in ten years.

It’s easier not to break down and cry now, though I still want to every time I think of my Dad. And it isn’t that I’m crying for him so much as I’m crying for me. It’s selfish, but I let my grief and my personal sorrow get to me. I let myself wallow in misery, even if only for a moment.  I miss them. I want them back. All of them. My heart aches for a time when I was naive to the harsh reality of death, when the pieces of my past weren’t scattered across the floor of my life.

With each loss, I change a little bit more. These days it’s a constant quest for a new version of “normal”, and in the process I’m still trying to learn how to be still again, to just sit without distraction to fill the voids in my head and my heart. One day I’ll find that peace, even if it takes another three years. I haven’t lost my faith yet.