Back in the 90’s I worked in a different place, with a different group of people. It was a small staff, twenty something of us.
In a 12 month period there were about seven to nine of us that lost a very significant person in our lives. A lot of parents, and a spouse, passed during a very short period.
At one point one of my co-workers and friends lost her father. I remember standing in the kitchen of the building and feeling very sad. But I also remember having the thought….this is the circle of life. We lose our parents, and we are prepared for that. I saw the grief, and I wasn’t minimizing it, not at all. I just remember telling myself that this is a part of life we all must deal with. I could handle this.
Of course it was easy to think I would be okay as both of my parents were fairly young and healthy. I didn’t even really have to contemplate it.
Until a month later when I found my father had left us. Unexpectedly. Quickly. With no good-byes.
The thoughts I had taunted me. And I quickly realized that whether it is a part of life or not, no one is ready to say good bye. To have the safety of your life taken away. Because even as adults who make their own way, there is safety and comfort in your parents always being there.
And suddenly, when he is not…. what is there? It’s a world without dad. Something I had never known. And even with the loss of my friends and co-workers parents, and the thoughts I had, I had not taken it a step further to imagine my world without a parent.
Though I had taken many steps in to adult hood, becoming a parent myself and owning a home and paying bills. It was the first and most concrete end of childhood. A parent was gone. Part of my youth. Part of every foundation laid in my life. Not here.
But during the loss, and since the loss, something else stepped up to help. Something that, of course, does not take the place of dad. But shares dad. And keeps him very much alive.
The relationships about dad.
My siblings who knew exactly how I felt without me having to utter a word. My children who suddenly saw that mom can hurt too. My friends who wanted to comfort, and share my pain and grief. My aunts and uncles who’s connection to dad were a totally different relationship-but just as important. Everyone’s connection to dad intertwined with mine. Sad and painful as losing him was, glad and joyous was the celebration of him.
It is an amazing feeling. That during all of this pain and sorrow there is true joy. I reveled in the celebration of him and his life. There was, and is, happiness in the celebration we shared of him. Odd enough as it is to say, there is joy in the mourning.
The day we buried dad seemed like the first day out of childhood. All of his children were fully a step away from childhood. And it is the path we all take. And even though it is a destined path, there is no preparation for it. No way to make it easy. But you are blessed if along that path your dad lived a life that now steps up and surrounds you and celebrates him with you.
God Bless all of the “little” Millers as they say goodbye to their dad. I know they will be surrounded by his life and his relationships.