Tag Archives: inspiration

A foreign but promising land.

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.”

Dad-entry

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Empty shoes, a beautiful legacy.

He’s gone.  As much as I felt I was prepared for this…..I wasn’t.  Nobody ever is.  There are so many questions flying through my mind at this moment.  The sadness, the anger, the peace, the nostalgia, the feeling of having no control….the fear of having no control.  All of these things vie for supremacy within myself.  This is grief and it is completely natural but it doesn’t make it any easier.  I often intellectualize my emotions.  Is it a coping mechanism?  A world without my dad.  My sister calls this the “new normal”, and sadly….it is.  And it feels anything but normal.

I try to imagine every detail, down to the smallest one of my father’s last days on Earth.  What did he sound like?  Look like?  How would I have reacted to seeing him in such a condition?  My mom is a widow now, and my brother and two sisters no longer have a dad.  He’s dead.  I don’t even know what I believe concerning life after death.  There is no scientific evidence to directly prove it but there are mountains of subjective material shared by those who have been close to death and by people who have been by those close to death.  A few days ago, my dad told my mom that he saw a small child standing in his room with him.  My mom shared it with the hospice staff and they told her that not too long ago, a little boy had died in the same room.

923059_10152251712535400_836129692_nWhat was it like for my dad to have one leg in another world and his other in this one as his body and mind prepared to………stop and release him?  What did he see?  Where is he now?  And why can I not follow him to maintain some semblance of contact that doesn’t rely solely on my memories of him?  I don’t want him to be gone!  Almost everybody I know still have both parents alive…why my dad?  He was (still is) an inspiration to everybody that knew him — I am not saying that politely or generically, he truly was a mentor to too many people to count.  He was strong, calm, a philosopher, a superior fighter when it was required, he was an immovable rock, someone that was not subject to the emotional whims or tantrums over life’s unpredictability.  It was his support and active participation in helping my mother that she built her non-profit, “Tapestries of Hope” into an effective and successful grief support group for daughters whose mothers have died.

God damnit, he was a real man, a superior man.  He filled my heart abundantly when he was alive, from my childhood to adulthood and now into fatherhood for the first time and I know it is that very abundance that will do it’s best to fill the void left in me now that he is gone.  I wish he could be here as I raise my little girl with Sonia, it hurts so much that he won’t be.

Not even thirty days.  From the first call I got from my mom telling me that dad has checked into the hospital and it might be the cancer that we thought he beat last year to 11:21 p.m. last night when he took his last breath…some would say that’s a long time.  I don’t feel it was but I think I feel that way because I  want him back.  I had a week with him and I know there are plenty of people that don’t get that kind of time so for that I am deeply grateful.  I miss him so terribly much.  He was only 60!  Out of the blue cancer showed up in his blood.  Christ almighty.  I just spoke with him no more than a couple weeks ago, we looked each other in the eyes, we talked about a great many things at length, things I will always keep in my heart, so precious are those memories.  We made promises to one another.

Sobs rack my body.  Tears stream freely and had these words found their way on paper, the ink forming them would run…forever, trying to find my father.  I wish I could have held him, seen him one last time.  I received pictures from my mom and two sisters of them preparing my dad for cremation, wrapped up snugly in beautiful blankets and twine.  It’s beautiful indeed.  It’s sad as well, though that isn’t my dad wrapped up in those blankets.  My dad was too strong of a soul to be so contained, his enthusiasm for life, his compassion for others, his honor as a man and his terrible jokes that made you laugh at their…terribleness pushed into eternity last night, 39 minutes before Monday.

To anybody reading this, there is so much to live for in life and I truly hope you do just that.  Appreciate everybody and everything you have.  Never stop striving to improve your life and the lives of those around you.  Love.  Laugh.  Leave your mark on this world, make memories with the people you care about and even with strangers — you may have improved their day just by smiling at them.  Do not hold onto anger, hold no grudges, hold each other.  Look beyond the darkness, the negativity, the violence and selfishness we are all bombarded by on a daily basis.  Life is waiting to unfold from within you, seize every moment  you can and make it worthwhile!

Dad, wherever you are, I hope you’re peaceful and happy.  I hope you will still be able to see me as I live on and become a father.  Everyday I will look fondly on the memories we’ve made and the incredible influence you’ve had on me — an influence that is still at work in transforming me into an amazing person, a caring and strong person.  An influence whose echo will guide me into achieving my potential in life, becoming an absolute and sturdy force for good in this world.  You’re a beautiful man and I love you with all of my heart.  Goodbye, pop, journey well.

A man larger than life.  A man who WAS life.

A man larger than life. A man who WAS life.

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