The calendar notification popped up in my phone today, “Date of Dad’s passing”.
He died three years ago, today. I thought twice about setting the notification up. Why would I want to remember such a horrid event? Was it such a great idea to evoke the demons that have haunted me since his passing?
Well, yes… It was a conscious choice to do this. See, my mom passed away many years earlier. Right now, as I write this, I wish I remembered the date. But I don’t. It was sometime in October, but that’s all I know. Sure, I could dig it up. And I probably will, especially after I write this. But not right now.
The goal of marking this date — this date of intense trauma and emotional upheaval — is not to add to my misery. Not to stoke the flames of resentment for days I wish like hell I could get back. Not to widen the gaping abyss where my dad once physically stood, but no longer does…
But to mark the anniversary of the date — as horrible as it was — when something in me transformed in a huge way. My choice is to use this day — this date marked in my calendar every year for the rest of my life — to acknowledge and meditate on the forging of my soul that it has cast on me.
This date marks a piece of me, changed forever. A piece that will never be the same as it was when I shared it with them.
I’m going to ponder this for awhile. Sit with it. What changed in me on this date three years ago, and has been changing since? I know it’s still changing. Like the shadow that travels through a freshly forged steel blade as the carbon turns to steel. My goal is to help this forging along. To make sure it heals correctly — not deformed and jagged like it very well could.
This work is up to me.
But for now, I want to take this time to point something out…
If you know someone who loses someone close to them, it can be really damn hard to have a conversation with them about it. Especially if you’ve never experienced a loss like the one they’ve been faced with.
You’ll want to keep your distance. That’s far more comfortable. But sometimes you won’t really have a choice. Perhaps this certain someone is your wife, husband, or best friend. There will come a point when you’ll have to talk to them for the first time following their loss.
It’s never an easy conversation. The thing that will be gnawing at you the most is that you’ll want to tell them that everything will be okay. But a certain part of you knows that it won’t.
Honor that truth. It’s the real deal. For this person, the part of them that aches so bad right now will never quite be okay. It may diminish in intensity. But the pain will never entirely go away…
And that’s perfectly fine. Sit with them in that space. Look as deeply as you can to see the part of them that’s red-hot at that moment. Like fire, its embers glow and crackle as they sob. This is it. This is the part of their soul that is transforming. But they need you to see it. They need you to know that it won’t be okay — it will never be okay — but they’ll be okay.
When they see that in your eyes, they won’t feel so lost. So swept away.
It’s nice to have an anchor (thanks, Alex Ellison).