Thursday, September 22, 2011

Departures = New Beginnings

This year signaled the passage of more folks I was personally acquainted with than at any other time I can recall.  My pal Diana's groom of 27 years, Ted, died in Spring.  Then in Summer, the 18 year old newly graduated brother of one of my daughter's best friends, then my beloved Dad, the Mother of a good family friend, and today as we embarked on our evening walk, I had the unsettling task of being present when my exercise partner, Annie, learned that her Dad had passed away.

Witnessing those tears and anguish with no way to assuage the sorrow is so mentally draining.  You know that their lives will never, ever be normal again not in the way they knew "normal" - with it's familiar scenery, voices, and rhythms. Only time will help memories become sweeter, sorrow less intense, and new patterns forge to suit a new reality - life without that someone so dearly loved. It has not quite been a month since my Dad died but time has moved so slowly it feels as if it has been 3.  I still wake up every day saying I can't believe he left us which is a bit contrary to my last post. But it's true - for now it is hard every day knowing my ears will never hear his laugh or belch or the funky way he botched words like radio or jalapeno -  again. My new normal is fretting over whether my Mom has slept or eaten or exercised.  Thank God she is doing all three albeit with a new air of sadness but they are indeed steps forward.

One of the first thing I remembered vividly when I learned the severity of my Dad's intracerebral hemorrhage was that the evening prior, I had not kissed him good-bye as we headed home.  Now I am not an overly affectionate person neither romantically (sorry guys) nor platonically but that bit bothered me for some days.  Today my friend, Annie, lamented that her own dear Dad died in Africa and she had not seen him since last year (when she was there to bury her own husband) due to lack of funds.  One of the first things I said to her and I'm certain I'll have to say it again on many a morning walk is "You have to forgive yourself for that."  And we must, fully and genuinely.  I'm certain her Dad would never fault her for having been where she was - living her life as he transitioned from his.  And I'm sure my Dad knowing how affectionate I was NOT, knew that I loved him even without the kiss.  But more important than that, 2 days before my birthday (11 days before he died) he posted this on my facebook page: "I was never so blessed as the day you became a part of my life Happy B-Day Daughter".   He left making sure to tell me first what I meant to him; there isn't much more you can ask of anyone.

As I was walking home from my friend's house, I felt that the abiding lesson any one should gain from sudden demise is not so much where your soul resides. That is fully an issue for another time. The lesson should be that life is fragile and fleeting. Since the ultimate mystery of how many 'morrows are bestowed on us remains just that - a mystery - then there should be no more putting off life....until we get skinny, win the lottery, the kids are older, or retire - do what you can with what you have NOW.  My Dad wisely bought his "retirement" car, Volvo XC60 T6,  a year ago.  He never got to retire but he happily  drove that luscious piece of Swedish craftsmanship for a full year before he died. Our to-do lists are not always huge or impressive - more often than not small things can lead to profound shifts in the pattern and truths of our lives. So I resolved this evening to do some things when I got home  and one of those small things shifted more positively than I anticipated - for today at least.  And then I hugged my little girl and she me, told her I love her as she went to bed...and for today I am fulfilled.

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