Sunday, August 21, 2016 - 6:05am
Yesterday I said goodbye to my father, who passed away on August 05th, the same day my dear friend Tom passed away.
My father and I, while not close, had spent time over the last ten years or so, working on a friendship. No apologies, or reparations, no arguments, or accusations. There were some challenging conversations, on both sides. We had one three hour conversation that I never expected, and will never forget. We made a conscious effort to connect, and to build on the present, not the past.
It had been a few years since I had seen him last, but we had talked on the phone, up until the end of last year. I didn't know he was ill - a choice he made to not have anyone contact his children. He had remarried almost 30 years ago, and I've never met any of his family. I was filled with trepidation yesterday, being his only child to attend, and stepping into my father's life, a circle of people I had never met.
I considered not going. I told a friend the feeling in my stomach was like that of going into hospital for surgery. Voluntarily.
My father's family welcomed me with open arms. They were kind, gentle, and full of grace. Everyone spoke of how much I look like him. There was not a moment of feeling like an outsider, not even an awkward silence. I was not a stranger.
I was asked to read a poem that someone had brought along. I choked out the words, in between pauses, gasps for air and a firm grip of my tongue between my teeth. Then I completely broke down, in front of everyone assembled. With dignity, they held that space for me. I was safe, and felt the loving and deeply connected care from every single person.
I feel comfortable saying it was a lovely afternoon, ugly crying in public and all!
In speaking with a friend later in the day, I said I was the only one to 'ugly cry' and that I wasn't concerned about it. He challenged me with, "Why is it UGLY crying?" I replied that I don’t want anyone to see me with my face contorted like that - and that it was a good question. I pondered this a while. It was pure raw emotion. Going forward, I'll see if I can use that when next describing my 'pure raw emotion cry face'.
Today we celebrate Tom's life, and personally, I'll mark today as the end of a swirling chapter that has gone on for the last two months. Dying and death have been a daily focus. It's a conversation I'm determined to keep going. I've been exposed to, endured and made it through every, single, moment. To close on a celebration of life seems only fitting.
The lessons. Long may I continue to receive them. Celebrate love today. Take a moment to connect, or reconnect with someone that might just benefit from knowing you're thinking of them. Just because.