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Coming to Terms with a New Beginning

The Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: “Did he have passion?”

Two months ago today, my father died (the obit I wrote). It was the culmination of three very intense days that bookended his nearly two-year battle with colon cancer—an inevitability that wasn’t lost on me, yet the suddenness of his departure (I was expecting a slow decline, not a hammer being dropped) has left an indelible mark on me.

The answer to the Greeks’ question easily would be yes. My father’s passion was people. Specifically, giving people the tools they needed to get into successful, fulfilling careers. His passion for people is certainly a trait I’ve inherited, which makes his departure all the more profound.

There are so many moments from those three days that will forever be etched in my brain. Emotions and decisions I only had an inkling about contending with coming to the forefront. Images that I’ll never forget. But there is one memory in particular that, in retrospect, is the most surreal of them all:

The moment I left the hospital after he died.

My mom and I walked out of the hospital. I felt numb. I was also overwhelmed by the simple truth that life goes on. Time continues. Life continues. And we simply don’t.

That simple fact has made me confront my ongoing struggle with my beliefs in God and an afterlife (or lack thereof). It has also made me laugh at the absurdity of what we decided to do next, which was find food.

… that necessity of life—directly opposed to what I had just witnessed. It was almost comical, and certainly absurd. But again, necessary.

The other thought that came to mind was the poetic, near-symbiotic juxtaposition of the weather with the situation at hand. It seemed the entire time my father was in the hospital, it was rainy, gray, and gloomy. 20 minutes after he died, we left the hospital in beautiful sunshine. One could think his death made the sun come out. I still haven’t decided if that’s a nice way to think about things or not.

So, what now? What else is there to do but begin to figure out what life looks like with such a major presence?

Obviously, I’m still adjusting to this loss. I’m still adjusting to not being able to pick up the phone and pick my father’s brain for advice. I’m still adjusting to not choking up any time there is an emotional father/child moment in a TV show or movie. I’m still adjusting to the idea that, God-willing, I’m going to live a longer portion of my life without my father’s presence than with it.

And I’m trying to sift through so many emotions and thoughts about where my career and my life are going that I’m oftentimes just simply overwhelmed. The logical side of me knows this is a process–yet the emotional side of me hates not being in control.

I know it gets better with time. I also know this was simply an eventuality, whether he had cancer or not. It’s a milestone in an (hopefully) adult’s life to lose a parent. But that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier. That knowledge doesn’t make it any less raw.

The death of a loved one is a new beginning. It’s one I clearly wasn’t truly prepared for, but it’s one I had no way of preventing. Time heals all (so they say) and life goes on.

I’m still coming to terms with being okay with that.

 

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