This is probably going to be the last post I write about my Daddy.
Last Friday was the 3 year anniversary of his death – his sudden death that left me emotionally paralyzed and reeling.
I took the day off of work and went to visit his grave in Bushnell at the Florida National Cemetery. It was my first time going alone and I was really looking forward to being able to take my time and do whatever felt right.
The drive out was beautiful – Sunroof back, windows down, Sia’s “Alive” on repeat and swapped out only for Gaga’s “Joanne.”
I arrived around 2:30pm and the place was packed – lots of families having services. I drove by and one of the employees asked me if I was with a party. I said “nope, just here to see my Daddy.”
I wound my way through the massive grounds and found my Dad’s headstone, took out a blanket, sat down in front of it and thought “now what?”
- It felt weird to talk aloud to him considering how much I talk to him in my head.
- It felt weird to spend less than 30 minutes there considering how far and long the drive to get there takes.
- And I didn’t feel like crying at all. If anything, I just felt like it was a regular day in my life now.
So I laid down and pulled out my mala beads and started to meditate, repeating my mantra aloud – I almost NEVER, ever, meditate by chanting my mantra aloud.
I am at peace with what was, what is, and what will be. I forgive you. I forgive me.
I thought about “what was” – The last time I talked to him. The last time I saw him. The time I *thought* we had together. The me I used to be, when I knew he was only a phone call away. The horrible flight home after he died. The months of grief and agony that followed. And I realized I truly accepted it… all of it.
I thought about “what is” – The fact that I’m laying out on the grass under a blue sky in front of my Daddy’s headstone, without him, without anyone, all alone. And I realized I accepted it – this state of being.
I thought about “what will be,” and I realized I have no effing idea what the future holds and I never will, but I accepted that I don’t know, and I’ll work on accepting it every day.
I thought about forgiving my Dad for not calling me, not going to the doctor, not taking care of himself, not telling me how serious it was, being an idiot. And I truly forgave him.
And I thought about forgiving myself for not being there, for going on vacation, for thinking it was going to be okay, for thinking he was invincible, for being an idiot. And I truly forgave myself.
I was halfway around my mala beads – of which there are 108 – and something in me clicked.
I was laying down, looking into the sky, and instead of finishing with “I forgive you, I forgive me,” I just randomly sort of awkwardly finished with “I love you Daddy. Thank you for everything you gave me.”
I repeated that version of my mantra til I got to the last bead and by the time I finished, I was sobbing, still repeating my mantra out loud. Tears were running down the sides of my face and into my ears… I was red and my nose was clogged… my voice was rough… and I realized something so amazing that it hit me like a freight train:
My Dad’s last gift to me was the event, the catalyst, that made me into the strongest, most resilient, most independent and confident and FEARLESS version of me that I could have ever hoped to become.
I’ve always said: EVERYTHING I am is because of my Dad.
He literally gave me life by creating it, he gave me my sense of humor, he gave me my sense of adventure and my love of travel and my ability to talk to anyone about anything. And his last gift to me was my strength.
As I worked my way around my mala with my edited mantra I realized forgiveness has happened and what’s left is love and gratitude.
From now on February 24th won’t be a day I mourn my Dad. Instead it will be a day I honor and thank him for giving me the last and most important lesson I needed, one only something as devastating as losing him could teach me: How to be strong and fierce and fearless… all on my own.
I love you, Daddy. Thank you for everything you gave me.