I've always been an emotional soul. Something that can be challenging working in the funeral business. Growing up in my large Christian family and the Pentecostal Church, I didn't learn not to have feelings; but instead to hide them. A lesson I've tried the last 16 years to unlearn. This last entry in my blog has been two years in the writing. I feel it has been worth it.
I want to help my father and often feel as though I need to be there every moment for him. But in reality, the best thing I can do for him is show him that I have not given up my own life to take care of him. I have to trust those that I have hired to take care of him and remind myself what living is all about.
He sat at the breakfast table with his cup in hand and watched out the window as the morning light slowly snuck in and stole the power that the darkness had held over the house and surrounding gardens. It turns out, this would be his last morning at the familiar table. Time has stolen his ability to interact, like a switch that has short circuited, his brain has left us.
Suddenly, life has drastically changed for everyone involved. We wait patiently as his body dwindles away. We find ourselves longing for an end. The suffering must end. But it goes on. Day after day, we sit by his side. We wonder, is today the day? Or will it be tomorrow's early light that will shine on a new life for us all? The day that will be the beginning of a new chapter. A chapter that doesn't include either of my parents.
I've been an adult capable of making my own decisions for many years now. But this is the beginning of the chapter where I can no longer call for advice from those that have cared for me my entire life. It's time to take everything I've learned and become an example for someone else. Am I ready? No one ever is. But that's the way life works. Those hidden emotions have become too much for anyone to hide.
Then, one late evening, when I don't think I can take a moment more, as I sit quietly, holding the hand that gave me life, I feel his life slip away. His last breath was uneventful. Just a shallow, short breath. A breath that was relieving for not only my father but for me. A single breath that would change the way that I see the world. Who knew so much could be contained in such a short breath. In his 89 years, my father had taken countless breaths. Often those breaths preceeded instructions or advice. Now in his short last breath, I find the best advice he's ever given me. "Find yourself", it said.
And thus has begun the next chapter in my life. At first, I wanted to pass on the things I have learned. But I quickly learned that others will not hear what they need, until the time is right for them. So my lesson in the end was to experience life, for all that it has to offer. There is more to discover than anyone could ever discover. There is more to see than any one person could ever see. It would be best for me to focus on what I can do and see for myself than to try to enlighten the whole planet. I love this quote from JJ Van der Leeuw; The real mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
So over the two years since my father's death, I have focused on me. I've stopped dying my hair. I've changed my eating habits and focus my attention on toning and conditioning my body. I limit my exposure to the sun and have shed nearly 30 pounds.
Now, as I care for my aging dog, catering to his every whimper, I find myself more capable of dealing with my impending loss. I feel better physically and have gained great pride in knowing that I have touched the lives of so many people even in the smallest ways. People that I am proud to know and love. I know that I will have many more folks that my life's path will cross in the future and I look forward to each and every one.
Tonight, as the daylight gives way to the mystery of darkness, and a chill comes through the open window, I ready myself for tomorrow. A new chapter. A new emotionally filled opportunity. And I wish you all happiness.