I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you who wrote with condolences, expressed love, showed support, for your kind and deep words, when my father passed away. You each have touched my heart very deeply.
It has taken me several weeks to get to a place where I am able to write and to do it without the tumultuous pain that was overwhelming me. The pain is still there, and I guess it will take a long time (if ever) to ease completely.
I am so grateful for the support I have received from my good friends, and the support that has been extended to my Mum, Marlene; sister, Hetty; and brother, Christopher. This has been absolutely devastating to us all, and we are each grieving in our own way.
On Tuesday (August 24th 2010), it will mark 30 days since Dad's passing (4 weeks ago today), and as tradition goes, it is the day when we are supposed to officially "stop" the mourning process. But how does one turn that off? How does one suddenly go from such intense grief to living again? How do we go on?
But we do. We each do. And, while the process is not an easy one, we manage, we adjust and we just do. As one dear friend so aptly put it: “you sort of adapt your life around the grief.... it's a bit weird to explain, you get on with it, but you don't really get over it because no one will ever fill that void.”
I had been living away from home for the past 7 1/2 years, and only had one chance to spend 5 momentary months with my Dad in all that time. So the reality of his not being there (in the physical) is hitting me very hard.
I had not spoken to him for two weeks prior to his death (we had tried to make a concerted effort to speak regularly, so I could “cheer him up” and “make him laugh” in the weeks prior after he had come home from the hospital), and that weekend, I felt a strong prompting to call. But truth be known, I'd had a disagreement with my mother two weeks prior, and just did not want to have to "deal with her" at that time. So I put it off. I had planned to put those harsh feelings aside and call them that night to speak with Dad, but it was too late; he died before I got that chance.
This experience has taught me so many things. For one, no matter how we don't see eye-to-eye, pick up the phone and just continue on. After all, are petty disagreements really that important in the grand scheme of life?
Tell those you love, that you love them, each and every day, no matter what. Hug them, kiss them, love them (if you are close enough to do so); if not, drop them an email, or pick up the phone and call, just because.
Treasure each and every opportunity that you are together with those you love. Record your most loving, and favourite moments in a journal to look back on and laugh, reminisce, enjoy.
Another dear friend wrote me a lovely letter of comfort, and shared with me a poem that had been shared with her 20 years prior, when her mother passed away;
Don’t Cry for me
Don't cry for me now I have died, for I'm still here I'm by your side,
My body's gone but my soul's is here, please don't shed another tear,
I am still here I'm all around, only my body lies in the ground.
I am the snowflake that kisses your nose,
I am the frost, that nips your toes.
I am the sun, bringing you light,
I am the star, shining so bright.
I am the rain, refreshing the earth,
I am the laughter, I am the mirth.
I am the bird, up in the sky,
I am the cloud, that's drifting by.
I am the thoughts, inside your head,
While I'm still there, I can't be dead.
Yesterday, I was reading in the Bhagavad-Gita something that goes in line with that lovely poem;
"For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time.
He has not come into being, does not come into being,
and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal,
ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain."
For us, we see each other as being that "person", but in truth, we are nothing more than the shells that transport our souls. I have always known this, but I SAW it the moment I saw the photos of my Dad, laying in such peace in his coffin.
Once I got past the intensity of the pain of seeing him like that, I realised that I did not fully recognize him. He was not the man I knew. This "body" was nothing more than the shell of the father that I loved, and will continue to love, forever.
It was in that moment, through the pain of loss that I "got it", 100%; saw that the body was not my Dad, it was just the vessel by which I knew my Dad in this physical realm.
As the days and weeks have progressed, and my burden of sorrow is slowly easing, I am finding a deep comfort in that knowledge.
While I miss my Dad's presence, his voice, his laughter, his jokes; his Be-ing is even more present that it ever was before. Now I can experience him constantly, whereas before, it was only when I saw him, or spoke with him on the phone.
Again to quote the Bhagavad-Gita;
"This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble,
and can be neither burned nor dried.
He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable,
immovable and eternally the same."
Today, as I thought back over the past four weeks, I did not sorrow. For the first time in so many days, tears have not fallen from my eyes. Instead, I feel intense pride at being my father’s daughter. I look back over the past 37 years, and I see the lessons I have learned; directly, and through the experiences that he went through. And I am who I am today, because of the person my Dad shaped me to be. So, as I felt this peace and this comfort wash over me, and could sense Dad around me strongly; I penned this poem in honour of my Dad…
Because of you, I am.
I am an indelible woman, because of your example.
I know how to love, because you loved me.
I have deep-seated kindness, I learned from you.
I know love, because you showed me.
I am proud of me, because you were.
I am generous, because you taught me.
I stand tall, because you raised me up.
I reach for the stars, because you lifted me.
For all that I am, I am because you taught me,
You raised me,
You loved me.
You left your mark, your legacy,
And now I carry on,
Because of you.
I wish to express my thanks to you for the thoughts you have sent to me via email and Facebook postings; your words which touched me deeply, your support, your love, and your prayers have left a strong mark on my soul. I am so filled with gratitude for your friendship and love; I send you loving embraces and heart-filled appreciation, gratitude, and love.