Presence in Absence

When my dad passed away, I felt sure that I was going to need time to adjust to the absence of his presence in my life.  But today, a friend said that it must be difficult to get use to his presence in his absence.   His presence in his absence.  My friend had confused his words, and quickly corrected them.  Through his confusion, though, I found some clarity that made me think about Dad’s presence that still remains, even outside of the sorrow of his absence.

I really have been focused on all the things Dad’s absence brought, all the voided space that his unseasonably lost life has brought to my life.  I have spent months missing our routine phone calls together and the daily routine of the last few months of his care.  These things are missing, not present.  How can a loss so great leave you still with some presence?

My friend’s words, however, made me face the facts.  I am getting acquainted with Dad being gone, which is heartbreaking to accept and comforting to make room for him in my life again too.  I am not embracing Dad’s absence, but Absence and I are getting familiar with each other through that slow and awkward dance of strangeness resolving to truth.  This conversation with my friend nudged me to think of how I still incorporate my Dad and his love into my daily life.  It is a little easier to talk about him and his life now, even though I’m certain I couldn’t miss him more than I do today.  I wish I still had him here for new memories and stories, but for now, I suppose I am grateful for his presence that still osmoses through my life, even amidst his absence.  And I come to realize, appreciate and embrace that some love is eternally present.

Daring to Keep Living: A Love Story for all Ages

Weddings usually bring to mind neurotic brides starving themselves to fit into a white dress and grooms wondering if this wonder-beast bridezilla will recede after the wedding or be bound to him forever.  But this weekend, I attended the most wholesomely happy wedding I have ever witnessed.

The bride, a spry young lady in her 70’s, wore purple with sequins and was escorted down the aisle by her son.  She finally got the church wedding that she wanted and that the war prevented in her earlier years.  The groom, nearing 80, was a hopeless romantic with tears streaming down his face and who was revived by the opportunity to find a partner for the next love story in his life.  The joy and the tears shed in that church were so pure and honest.  Both of the lovebirds had stood by their spouses through years of terrible sickness.  Carol lost her husband, Bill, about 4 1/2 years ago, and Larry lost his wife about 6 years ago.  They were wholly committed to their spouses.  They knew the sorrows that these vows could bring, they knew the joys, and they choose to give love another chance.  They have an understanding of their vows that most 20-year-olds just can’t yet appreciate.  And there they stood, in love, elated, young romantics again.

Beside the couple stood their children as bridesmaids and groomsmen.  It was not the traditional wedding in many ways, but it gives me some hope that my eventual wedding day would be happy too, even if my father cannot be there to walk me down the aisle.  I also ‘caught’ the bouquet.  This was largely because I was the ONLY single person over the age of 12 at the wedding.  Maybe some of the honest love shared between these two will dust off on me through the flowers I caught.  But regardless, I’m glad I got to be there to witness the continuing and living of life, no matter what the age. 

New Year’s Resolution– Overachievers Start in November

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s next.  How do I appropriately and productively deal with the sadness that is still with me since losing my dad?  After mulling around a few months, I think it’s time to dust myself off and start to figure things out, and there is no better way to dust off than by spreading happiness.

First, I decided that I would do one thing kind for my family each day.  Seems easy.  Seems good.  Then, perhaps I should do one nice thing for a friend each day.  Then I wondered if I should do something nice for myself.  Now, I know that it seems selfish to include doing something kind for myself in that list, but I feel like I need to be gentle toward myself for awhile.  Since August I’ve lost my dad, ended a relationship with a long term boyfriend, moved households twice, and just generally had a lot of chaos in my life.  So, even though it makes me feel a little egotistical, I’m going to do something nice for me too.  So here I go on my next quest.  From now until the new year, I’m going to resolve to do one thing good for myself, my family and my friends each day.  Sure, I try to live like this regardless, but I know I rarely take time to breathe them in and feel solid in my actions.

So my charge to complete 3 kindnesses a day and take note of them began yesterday.  The whole day I kept questioning myself on if the kindness was big enough, meaningful enough to ‘count.’  But by the end of the day, I felt like maybe there is still some joy and meaning in my new life.

For myself, I went to paint with some of my girlfriends.  We laughed, drank some wine, ate some cupcakes, and produce… ‘art’.  I think Monet has a solid hold on his place in history; none of us are the underdog’s who might steal his glory.  But regardless, it was nice to be nice to myself.  I felt a little bad that it was so easy to find something to do that was kind, for myself.  Shouldn’t I be a martyr?  Shouldn’t it be hard to be kind to myself?  But, I let those feelings go, and enjoyed the company of my friends.

For my family, I flipped off the Genworth Insurance headquarters building as I drove by.  (Genworth gave my mother so much grief when we were trying to care for my dad.)  I told my mother about it, and we laughed and laughed.  Okay, I admit, not the classiest move, but it sure felt good.

And last on a more serious note, for my friend, I listened as she told me a heart breaking account of some abuse that she recently faced.  I spent the whole day wondering if my kindnesses towards my friends counted as ‘good’ enough.  Then, when she came to me with her story, I put all that aside and felt so grateful that she would feel safe enough with me to finally let go of carrying this huge burden alone.  She’s such a beautiful person, who should be loved and celebrated, and I hope talking with me will begin the long journey towards feeling at peace with herself again.

Today, I’m off to a good start.  The gym for me.  Cooking dinner for a friend, and I believe I’ll send a card in the mail to a family member.  I’m hoping the process of being more mindful of my actions will help pull me back around to a more centered me.  So happy pre-New Year.  I hope I can keep this resolution.

Big Bird Snuggles

Man, I love having a birthday on Halloween!  It’s really the best.  How could I possibly remain in a funk when Big Bird ran over to me to hug me on my birthday?  Big Bird and I embraced at the end of slow run towards each other, and then chatted for awhile.  We were joined by Elmo, who came over to giggle a bit.  They both showed me the signs on their backs that read, “Disclaimer: these costumes were purchased before any political comments were made, and does not reflect any political philosophy.”   We laughed and talked about how much fun it is to work for a place that has men walking around as fireplaces and women with 3-ring binders on their heads (binders full of women.)  Much to my chagrin, I realized later that I had been joking around with the president of our company.  Sigh…

Despite my desire for denial about aging another year.  The day was good.  I faced it armed with the opal my dad gave me on my 16th birthday.  And it was made complete with precious kids who turn into serious monsters on their 50 piece of candy, as well as a bloody hand in my office chair when I came back from lunch.  A little laughter always goes a long ways.

Hope your Halloween was good too!