I had a revelation of sorts last week.
It happened while I was driving in my car. My brother made some cd’s right after my dad died. A collection of songs that my dad loved and ones that reminded us of him. Over a year later I’m still listening to them. But then I also have other songs I listen to. Songs that reflect my processing of his aging, dying and death.
So, there I was driving, my music was playing and I was thinking of my dad and I realized something had shifted in my thinking.
Before he died, I worried about how I would survive without him.
After he died, I discovered survival is not only possible, it’s the only viable option.
But I missed him. The loss of his physical presence was overwhelming. Some days it would be crushing and on other days it was and is, merely a dull ache.
Until last week. When I realized that through his death, I gained something I didn’t anticipate. When he was alive he was often on my mind. His influence was steady in my life. But there were moments, and stretches of time where I went about my life not thinking, consciously, too much about him.
Until he died.
As I passed the one year mark, I realized he is with me now in a way he wasn’t when he was alive. I feel him with me. Not in some sort of ghostly way. But somehow I feel like he has become a part of me, a part of my skin and my bones, my heart and my mind.
And I realize, that’s a gain.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’d take him back, in his old physical form in a flash. Without hesitation, I’d give up this new feeling for a more tangible one I can wrap my arms around.
But that’s not an option. The realization of what I’ve gained, despite the loss, is a gift. It’s one I think I don’t fully appreciate yet because it’s new. I was use to my old relationship with my dad. It was comfortable and safe and known.
This new relationship is more really, a relationship with myself. All that he has instilled in me, now seeks to be given life. He is not here to protect me, to save the day, to provide for me. I must do it without him. But he didn’t leave me empty handed. He left both my hands and my heart full.
I feel compelled to act where he once would have. I am still completely me, but now, I am also more.
And since the only choice I have in this matter, is how I respond to this gift, I choose to embrace it.
Even if the return of the embrace is only felt in my heart.