Holidays make loss of loved ones even harder

Morgan Dozier, Staff Writer

It’s always around the holidays where you begin to reflect on what happened over the course of the year. And it’s always around this time where your loved ones truly mean the most to you.

Senior Morgen Dozier with her grandmother Patsy Dozier at the Woodland Hills Elementary Thanksgiving lunch in 2010. (Submitted by Morgen Dozier)

In February 2022, I had gone into the month excited for Region. I was working myself to the bone in preparation for the meet. Swimming everyday with a new club and new peers. I just wanted to make sure that I would move on from Regionals and make it to the State Championships. That was my entire goal for February. Get past one meet and go on to the next. And that is exactly what I did.

All three relays didn’t make state from the get go though, we had to wait to see who the call ups were. When the announcement was made that we had made it, we were lucky enough to be seeded rather high up on the roster. It was an exciting weekend. I was pumped with adrenaline and pride, not only for myself but for my team. I was so ecstatic the whole weekend. My parents’ 20th anniversary was that Sunday, so it was even more reason to be happy. But their anniversary wasn’t spent celebrating. That Saturday they went to visit my grandmother who lived in Corpus Christi. We found out she was in the hospital. She had fallen down a few days prior while getting the mail. But by then she was in a coma. When my parents told me, my entire mood was instantly sombered.

You know those movies about miraculous recoveries? The ones that make you cry because the characters finally got their happy ending? I had convinced myself that it was going to be a reality. That my grandmother would wake back up and continue to live. That this would be some joke and we would laugh about it when it was all said and done.

But, three days later on Feb. 9, my grandmother passed away in her sleep.

Hollow. That was what I felt.

I just remember standing there, right in front of my mother while my sister sobbed in our kitchen. I never shed a tear. Not because I wasn’t sad but because I hadn’t felt anything like it before. I wasn’t sure how to process these emotions that I felt. I just remember standing there alone as my mom held my sister while they cried. It didn’t feel like I was there. I was watching them but it felt like I was trapped inside my head. It felt like I was a stranger to myself. I was like that for a few days, just watching, watching and waiting. Waiting for anything to pull me out of whatever I was in. I didn’t snap back into reality until a few days later. My parents had insisted that I continue swimming for the rest of the week; they didn’t want me to fall behind my peers. I only missed that Friday to go to her viewing. At this point, I still didn’t feel like myself. The whole ride to Corpus Christi was a blur.

When we arrived at the funeral home, I thought I was OK. I thought that this would be quick and immensely bittersweet. I thought I would be able to look at her face and remember the childhood I spent with her and be able to send her off with a smile on my face. But when I saw her, my stomach dropped immediately. I had spent all day preparing my family, but I had overlooked myself completely. And I don’t think I could’ve done anything to lessen the blow. She looked asleep, like if we were too loud she would wake up and scold us. Looking back, maybe that’s what we all thought because our voices never exceeded a whisper.

I stuffed myself in the corner of that room and cried for the first time in weeks. I couldn’t stop the tears no matter how hard I tried. My eyes lingered on her face while my family said their goodbyes. I wanted to absorb every detail on her face while I still could. I didn’t want to forget her; but the longer I stayed in that room the more overcome with emotions I felt.

I still never want to forget her, but as the months pass, the hands of time continue stealing details away from me. It hurts, but looking at photos with her in them helps. There isn’t a specific way to mourn. I found that out the hard way. Everybody deals with pain in different ways and it is completely OK to take a few steps back and breathe. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from whatever you are in. Making sure that you are OK is much more important than ignoring your feelings.