It will take time.

That’s what many people would say when we lost my Dad just over eight months ago. Friends and family were very comforting, yet I didn’t want it to take time. In that moment, I wasn’t wanting to make it all better. I wanted my Dad. I’ve accepted that he’s gone even though we didn’t get to say goodbye, but I find myself holding on to memories to keep him close to my heart.

Memories like the time he sat by the pool in shorts and a John Deere hat, watching proudly as I tried to teach Griffin to overcome his fear of swimming. He would shout out words of encouragement in between puffs on his cigar, and Griffin would take bigger risks with each try. These moments make me smile.

Yet, I’m also holding on to tangible stuff.

A receipt from McDonald’s where Dad bought his last coffee, a piece of wallpaper from his home, the last grocery list he wrote. I look at it from time to time and smile, admiring the way he wrote in all caps. I saved the gift box that held the bracelet he and mom gave me for Mother’s Day, and I tucked away our family photo that was used on his last Christmas card. The Butler Bulldogs t-shirt that I got him is now in my closet, and I sometimes pull out a pair of his thick, white socks and put them on my feet to help me feel close.

I do these things to help ease the pain.

We all have our own way of grieving. Some may say that gathering pine cones that dropped from the trees around his pool is silly, but I still found myself collecting the sticky things last month and placing them in a plastic bag. What I will do with them I don’t know.

The sun continues to rise each day, yet it sometimes feels like the hourglass of life got knocked over and sand is just barely sifting through. And who knows, time may one day ease the pain. Until then, I’m holding on to the things Dad left behind.

Pinecones and all.