Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Father's Day Reflection

Father's Day will never be the same. It will always be tinged with weirdness. For me, at least. 

Last year my dad passed away the day before Father's Day. Leave it to him to make sure our memories of him wouldn't fade. 

Tomorrow, my family will get together to pray for him and celebrate his life in the only way he would appreciate. Food! 

Grief is funny in that it can be a friend and nemesis at the same time. A friend when it brings comfort in the long forgotten memories that come in unexpected moments. A nemesis when the pain of loss slashes through the core in the most inopportune times.

Times when an Access van driving by can trigger an unceasing torrent of tears in the middle of a grocery parking lot. A nondescript white van with black letters can now cause an avalanche of memories filled with my dad transported in his wheelchair to and from his countless doctors appointments. 

I'm no stranger to grief. But when it's attached to a parent it reaches a new level only those who've reached it understands. 

When my boyfriend's mom passed away I told him grief has no expiration date. I didn't urge him to move on as I know everyone processes grief differently. 

Worse than grief is its Siamese twin---guilt. One cannot exist without the other. 

There are two kinds of guilt that accompanies grief. The first one is when you regret what you never did or said while your loved one was alive. The second one lies in the present when guilt plagues you for enjoying life as if moving on was wrong or untimely. 

My guilt falls in the latter. 

Should I be more miserable? Sad? Depressed? Distraught? Angry? Inconsolable? 

These are the tormenting thoughts of my guilt. 

In the weeks before my dad passed away he expressed his unhappiness numerous times. When he took his last breath I told him, "You're free now, Dad." Knowing that my dad is finally free from his weakened and diseased body he hated so much serves as a reminder to live my life to the fullest. Every day. 

Oftentimes, I lose patience with my mom. It's in these trying moments when the guilty thoughts run amok like a mosh pit at a punk concert. 

I've realized this past year since my dad's been gone that grief and guilt don't go away. They're either crazy in your face or hibernating for the winter but their existence is inescapable. 

Meditation and prayer are always my saving grace but more so this past year. It is in the stillness when I acknowledge the two Gs and let them be. It is in the silence when I accept their presence in my life without giving them power to consume me. It is in the solitude when I can release myself from their oppression. 

Today and onwards, I commit to living my life with gratitude (the all-powerful G), to let my people know I love them and to respect my elders. This is what my dad was trying to convey my whole life except I refused to listen. 

Happy Father's Day to all the dads and single moms! May we always listen with our hearts beyond the pride and anger. 

[To read the last installment of my photo project please head over to my photography blog here.]