With today the third anniversary of my father’s death, I’ve been pondering what to write. I thought for a while I might take a particular “angle” to discuss, like organ donation. My father suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and was declared brain dead, so his body was viable, and my siblings and I all agreed to donate his organs, so his kidneys and liver are now keeping three people alive. So I could take the opportunity here to talk all about that. I felt so happy to know that my very health-conscious father could help other people even as we had to lose him. I was particularly pleased when we received a letter from the woman who received his liver, and it became even more personal.
But no, I decided not to make this post all about that angle. After the full weekend I’ve had, I’ve just realized that, as always, I simply want to honor my father by living my best life. I felt blessed the other night to have a few prayers answered and to be able to make progress in some goals I’ve had for a while, and I thought it was wonderfully appropriate that my exciting evening of those things coming together came over this weekend. Saturday was three years after the hemorrhage, when I realized, late that night, that my father would not survive it. Yesterday I remembered our long drive to where he was lying in a hospital, his body kept alive by machines and medicines, so his children could be there with him. Three years ago today, we met with doctors who officially informed us of the steps they had taken to assure he truly was “gone.” We said goodbye to him and held a funeral service two days later, just a small group of family and a few friends who were in the area.
I’ve remembered him every single day that he’s been out of my life, but these anniversaries have brought home again the memories of those days and moments, where I had been hit and flattened by an emotional truck and felt hollowed out by grief the magnitude of which I had never before experienced. I had dreaded the days when my parents would die, because I knew they would be devastating, but I thought I had a lot more years with my dad. The unexpected event blindsided me.But the grief has eased over time, and the hole in my chest doesn’t feel quite so gaping. Now I remember with a chuckle all of his foibles that would make me crazy, and I recollect with fondness all the time we had together, all the experiences we shared. He taught me so much.
Right now I’m writing a book, and I’ve been able to incorporate some of the lessons he taught me about media literacy into what I’m writing, and it gives me such great satisfaction to be able to use his work within mine. He’s a part of my present even now, as I work on a project that is so important to me. I may not be able to talk to him about it and share my excitement, but I’m still somehow sharing this with him.
As I watched my oldest participate in a marching band competition on Saturday on a perfect fall afternoon, I thought of Dad, who marched in band himself many years ago and loved watching when I did so too as a high school student. My heart swelled with pride on his behalf as well as mine. I listen to my fifth-grader practice on the very same trumpet my dad played, and I feel him around somehow.
So many things remind me of Dad and keep him close here in my life. The best “angle” I can write about today is simply that he lives on, quite literally, and I will see him again someday, and even now, he is still present in my life through all he taught me and all I do that honors him.