When I was younger, I often felt frustrated toward others when they did not share my passion for things, dismissing them as apathetic or shallow. One of my best friends, Brandon, should have little trouble recalling those days, regularly hanging out with a Jesus Freak and pseudo-philosopher that studied anything and everything aside from the ordinary things that most 16-23 year olds enjoy. I now understand how wrong that was to be so judgmental and dismissive. A week into grief, into this foreign landscape, finding myself struck with such vivid and lucid visuals that it almost distorts my awareness of the real world, causing me to blankly stare and zone out, I understand that people cannot go where I go. It is not their journey, the footprints that carve out this path are mine and that is how it should be.
No doubt others have experienced this walk before but I don’t expect others to come with me. They simply can’t if they haven’t experienced it. And that’s ok. I don’t need to hear “I’m sorry”, “Sorry for your loss” or other well intentioned but well-worn phrases, ones that used to anger me because I thought they were a lazy ‘quick fix’ people used to escape the awkwardness or discomfort of a situation — in this case, grief. I know people mean well and thank you for the support but I know I will be ok, that I will learn from this and change irrevocably because of this. Grief does not need a cure, indeed there isn’t one. I don’t need to hear about closure; one of the first things I have noticed a great many people talk about is healing and closure in the aftermath of a tragedy. Healing and closure will come in due time and I have no interest in rushing either of those. What is healthy is to fully feel and work through my grief. Nor is time a cure. Time can, however, bring perspective, wisdom….growth….laying on a mantle of inner strength and peace, helping me to continue to be open to life.
Sometimes I feel nothing. Sometimes I cry with intensity that surprises even me. Other times I feel incredibly optimistic or angry. Sometimes I feel so sad that I almost cannot breathe. It’s cyclical and somewhat unpredictable but it’s movement and I’m moving in a generally forward direction. It’s a kaleidoscope of beauty and ugliness, filled with tests of character vs. habit and learning how to apply what you’ve learned and the impressions left on you by that person in your daily life. I referenced a light my father kindled in my heart in earlier posts and it was no exaggeration nor was it an attempt to be poetic. It’s a very literal description, the best I can do to explain his impact on me. It’s a light that was never fully realized until he was gone, and I think that is the nature of it, it’s the nature of a great mentor’s influence (and blessed am I that I can call him my father). He was cremated today.
I talk to him everyday. Perhaps I am talking to nothing. Perhaps not. It’s irrelevant to me because in doing so, my memories of my father remain fresh and I feel connected to him. I only knew him as my dad and I am ok with that. Others knew him in a different light but I know that all of us may joyfully cite, reminisce, and reflect on common threads that were characteristically consistent in his many relationships with others. His selflessness. His compassion. His optimism. His discipline and inner strength. His inner peace. His humor. His thirst for adventure. His honor. I think it’s uncommon in today’s world that a man possesses honor. My father did. Christ, am I so proud of him. He was not perfect by any means but his spirit shone through regardless of the lens held up to him. That’s beautiful to me. That’s something to aspire to, something to achieve in my own way so that at the moment of my own death when asked, “Did you love and were you loved?” I can answer with a contented and resounding “Yes.”