Pre-season football is starting. Children are returning back to school. August 23rd is here and inevitably another year has gone by.
I generally allow two days of feeling sorry for myself: his birthday and today. But to say that there are only two days a year where I feel sad over the fact that my father is gone is laughable. Laughable is such an accurate word, but the irony of that juxtaposition of emotion is not lost on me.
The tidal wave of grief comes and goes. Sometimes there is a warning, but often times it happens so fast that it destroys everything in its path. Once again I am left to pick up the pieces, restore my emotions, and try to rebuild. It is arduous, but I have come to appreciate that I get better and better at recovery each time.
There is the X on the calendar today but it is mostly unnecessary. It’s a date that looms and before I was even consciously aware of it, there was the usual emotional foreshadowing last week that let me know it was coming. It has become almost a physiological response, like allergies in the spring or a cold in the winter.
But this morning I felt a difference. A few months ago I had a moment. And just like on that day 13 years ago when my life was split into Before and After, that moment changed things. It’s not quite as dramatic as the end of a chapter, but perhaps just the perspective shift that comes with a new narrator in the same book.
Time spent together does not determine the effect another has on our lives.
I have reached that tipping point where I feel I am doing a disservice to the time my dad and I did spend together if I carry on acting as if my life is full of loss. Had you told me this 5 years ago, I probably would have neck punched you. But today this idea feels like a light bulb illuminating the path to my future.
I’ve tried a number of new things this year: CrossFit, training for a half marathon, going Paleo. I’ve begun to get more serious about planning our wedding, Garrett and I have taken a number of necessary steps to start planning our family. And even though I have done these things physically without the presence of my father, he has been there.
Frankly, we’ve shared a lot this year.
To act like these things haven’t been real or influential just because he’s no longer physically here paints such a fading portrait of the 19 years we did spend together.
He has always been here.
Yes, there are reasons to be sad. And I reserve the right to completely break down around the unfairness of it all. But also, there are things to celebrate. And there is still wisdom left to gain if I can just be open to receiving it in a different way.
Losing a parent is the ultimate amputation, instantly cutting you off from a portion of your past and leaving a gaping hole in your present. But what I’m realizing today is the incision was clean. And for the first time in 13 years I feel like the wound is healing. There will always be a scar, but today instead of seeing the remnants of an old and painful wound, I see a familiar reminder of a wonderful time. Something that has given me character. A perfectly healed time capsule of infinite love that will always yield a good story if I need one.