37 years ago today.
It was the afternoon. It was warm and sunny. My mind recalls big fluffy white clouds. It was a baseball kind of day.
There’s not a chance I could pull up what I was doing that morning. My gut tells me that I was hanging out at the filming of the movie “Lucas”, which was filmed at my High School. But truly, I have no clue what was happening before I entered the door to my house and was guided upstairs to my parents’ bedroom to say goodbye to my father for the last time.
As I sit here and close my eyes, I don’t like what I remember. I remember first, the smell. There is a smell that comes with a human body that is battling cancer. It’s a combination of medicinal and decay. I’ve come to realize that I have a weird sense of smell. Very strong in some instances. Horribly obsolete in others. This particular odor that I’m trying to describe, I’ve smelled it on others just walking down the street. It’s not pleasant, and I particularly dislike the fact that I get a glimpse into the private struggle of another human being that, in all likelihood, doesn’t want me to know this fact about them.
The second memory that comes to me is the sound. This audible memory isn’t as vivid as the smell, but it is just as traumatic for me as I sit here, purposefully extricating the sound from my memory banks. My father was struggling to draw a breath because his lung had collapsed. It was a shallow breath that rattled in a way that I’ve not experienced since.
The last memory is purely visual. I remember the room being darkened. I recall the the blinds having been drawn and what light was in the room amplified the skeletal shadows of my father’s emaciated body. A man who was a vibrant 225 pounds just 12 months earlier was now nothing more than skin stretched over bones. It was a shitty, evil way to die.
I’ve been carrying these memories like a cross. A burden being shouldered for 37 years that has shaped and guided my path. I like to believe that it has helped me at times. The reality is that it has fuelled more negativity than not.
It is time to let my father’s death go.
If you’ve been here before and you have read my blog posts in the past, you will know that I try to say things out loud. I quite often fail to come through. Like the fact that one of the last blog posts was an announcement of my intention to post more here. To write and finish my book. That last post was roughly 5 months ago. I had a blog about 10 years ago where I made similar pronouncements. I’m not happy about this cycle and I am sure I have (over)analyzed and beaten myself up on this fact over the past 5 months more than anyone else could.
I’m saying this less as a form of self flagellation, and more as simple acknowledgement. I didn’t follow through on some things that I wish I had. Through self-reflection I’m trying to be gentler with myself. I could very easily go into all the hows and whys behind my lack of follow through…but that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about letting go of my father’s death. I fully hope and intend to stop looking over my shoulder at the loss of 37 years, and celebrating the time I had with him and everyone else that is meaningful to me.
There is a wonderful confluence of events today that feels like it makes this the perfect time to let this go. Not only is today the day my father died, it is also Father’s Day, and Summer Solstice.
While Father’s Day is a simple Hallmark inspired day, it still carries meaning in our society. The fact that it coincides with both Solstice and my father’s death just amplifies the idea that this is a day of reflection, learning, and release.
Which brings me to Solstice. The longest day of the year, and the day where the Sun reaches it’s most northern point in its annual cycle. It is the transition from Spring to Summer. It is about life, and abundance. Warmth and sunlight. All of which are on full display here as I type this sitting on my back patio.
With these words, I am gently letting go of the weight my father’s death has had on my life. I am changing my focus to celebrating what time I had with him. In other words, celebrating his LIFE. I have some plans for how I will put this into motion. Plans that I will reveal as/when they happen. Right now they are very personal and I’m trying to finalize what form they will take once I implement them.
My intention is to stop empowering the day my father died by transferring my energy to the celebration of his birthday. I intend to quietly walk forward from this moment as the last time I look at the day of his death as the pivotal moment in my life. His LIFE is what I intend to carry from this point forward.