Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day… unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed, and very dear.” — Anonymous
Rest in Peace, Tom.
“This book was a pleasant surprise from a young, first-time writer. I read it on my Kindle in only a few days and it kept me interested throughout. I’m long past my college days, but I could relate to Megan’s poignant story, from her search to find the right mentor, to dealing with her dad’s alcoholism and her parents’ divorce, ending in her courageous decision to strike out on her own and pursue her dreams.”
From a writer to a writer, that sure meant a lot.
But while I’ve found myself thinking a lot about Tom and how unfair it was for him to be taken at a relatively young age by such a devastating disease, I’ve thought even more about my brother-in-law — Tom’s son — and what he will be going through in the days ahead. Losing my dad remains the toughest life event I’ve gone through (for all intents and purposes, I’m still going through it), so what can I say about the matter?
My religious views have strengthened over the last couple years, and not surprisingly the subject can be a tricky one with people who don’t have the same ones. Which is why I initially struggled with how my idea for this blog post would be received — as I’ve always stressed, religion is a deeply personal topic. Yet it occurred to me on a run this week (yes, I’m finally back to running and thus the flow of ideas), that what I’m about to describe isn’t specific to a religious view. Like many things, it’s just a matter of your perspective.
I’ve had a relationship with my father this past twenty months. I haven’t seen him once, save for the picture that sits on my living room table; I haven’t heard his voice; I haven’t given him a hug… and yet our bond has grown stronger.
He was there with me at the beach last summer. A fight with my sister, a lingering injury that had kept me away from my beloved (and stress-relieving) pastime, millions of questions about my next steps in life; all resulted in tears as I drove into my favorite town on the coast. But amidst clear skies and peaceful sunrises, sunsets, and stars (one night I sat on the sand for an hour and stared at them), I found comfort.
When a few different job options came up this past December, Arizona stuck out. One of my first thoughts was that my dad would love it if I ended up there. For one, it was a new place to explore, and my dad had grown pretty fond of seeing new places in the past couple years. But he also had family members just an hour and a half away, family members his wife visited often. In fact, he’d visited them too and hiked the Grand Canyon — he was adamant my sisters and I try it in the near future.
I took a class in Tucson called “Mindfulness” that just screamed something my dad would want me to do. He’d been at the other end of numerous phone calls about my worries in life — big and small — and so I knew he’d appreciate me taking the 8-week seminar on how to live more in the present moment. During the first session, our instructor told us we could meditate by looking straight ahead, and in my direct line of sight, I noticed a lamp. The exact, unique forest green and brass lamp that sat on my dad’s desk all the while I was growing up.
Now, the spiritual person would suggest I’ve had guidance of a sort over the past several months; perhaps someone up there even pulling a few strings — making the mindfulness class available in Tucson at the exact time I Googled it, playing the song “Let It Be” as I sat on the pier one night at the beach, putting an Arizona job prospect in my lap. Yet each of those things (and there are plenty more examples) are ones that are engrained in me from our time together. Whether my dad meant for my stepmom and me to hike the Grand Canyon together amidst perfect weather this past April, I know it would’ve made him happy. Whether he arranged for that lamp to remind me of his presence, I know that he’d want me to be finding tools to reduce my worries; and whether he was shining his light down at the beach through the sun, moon, and stars, I know he would’ve wanted me to be at peace in my favorite place.
Whether or not his spirit is with me, my dad’s spirit is without a doubt in me.
Tom’s spirit is already living on in those around him; from his three sons, to my sister, his daughter (he quickly dropped the in-law), they have already worked to embody the countless lessons learned from such a wonderful man. Even his writing ability is already being carried on — my sister has demonstrated an amazing knack for it these past few weeks. I have no doubt that they will continue to do this in the coming days, weeks, months and even years, and I hope, that like me, they will feel even closer to their dad as a result.
To say our parents live on in us seems cliché, and yet it’s really that simple. From the everyday thought, to the life-changing prospect, it’s that idea of what they’d think, what they’d want, what they’d do… that carries on an unbreakable bond, and reminds us that no matter how far away they may seem, they are still so very near.