Today marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, and I’m completely at peace with it.
Over the years I’ve heard so many people talk about how a part of them died when they lost a loved one. Hearing this makes me sad. A part of me did not die when I lost my father; if anything, a part of me came bursting to life. Everything he’d ever instilled in me came to a head and, at that point, it was up to me to use it or lose it.
I chose to use it.
I did not die with my dad, and frankly, he would have been pissed if I had.
My dad was a strong believer in appreciating life. He valued every single moment, whether it was happy or sad. He cherished family and friends, valued right from wrong, and respected the circle of life, and during my 32 years with him, he taught my sister and me how to do the same.
I clung to these lessons during his last day in this world, and I still do. They’re why I am who I am. They’re why every part of me is still alive.
During my first year away from college, I suffered a twinge of sadness as the holidays approached. I knew I’d be home for Christmas—coincidentally, my father’s favorite time of year—but I hated missing out on decorating the house, smelling all the baked goodies, and helping Mom wrap packages (as well as helping Dad keep Mom’s present a secret). My father and I kept in touch regularly via email, and shortly after his death I found the email he sent after I expressed my sadness.
It’s not uncommon to feel nostalgic for the Good Old Days this time of year when the sun isn’t putting out enough light and the sky is gloomy. I get that way myself from time to time. It’s a good thing to have good memories to reflect on but you must remember that change is the only constant in the universe. This is true; believe me, I know. Therefore, here is a little bit of wisdom that I have acquired in these 53 years or so. Live in the moment and make each moment a good one. Squeeze your time with the people you love until you have the last drop of good from it for you are at this very moment living in the Good Old Days. Lastly, don’t sit around and be sad when the moments are memories—just think about how good they were for you and everyone around you and smile. This has always worked for me and I believe it will work for you also.
We all love and miss you down here. Be careful if you go to Jacksonville. Write me. I will be checking my mail.
Yer Ole Dad
Although I’m at peace with my father’s death, it was difficult to share these thoughts with you. Mostly because I realize everyone deals with death in his or her own way. However, actively remembering who my father helped me become is just how I’ve dealt with—and accepted—it over the past year. I hope by sharing this email—one of my father’s most precious messages to me—will help you revive those parts of yourself, too.