I’ve lived 31 years without knowing what grief is. I know about death. People die all the time. Just not people who are ingrained in my DNA, my every memory, my childhood, and my entire existence up to one moment.
From one moment to the next, my life became unrecognizable. I’ve been propelled into an alternate universe where I feel every emotion, often at once. Everything and everyone around me feels like glass, like the rest of my life could shatter at any moment. Homesick, as the priest said.
Who will I be on the other side of this loss? What does life look like without my Dad?
My daughter was born on June 1st. My dad died on September 29th. It’s a strange thing having life and death in the same season. As I stood there in a vulnerable postpartum state, my heart wide open, physically exhausted and run down, I lost one of the single greatest influences of my life: my dad.
I can’t help but recall the process of birth as I am learning to survive death.
As goes birth, so does death; breath by breath. If you fight against the surges, they will sweep you away, becoming even more painful and intense. The only way I am learning to survive is to sway with the intense surges of grief, surrendering to this powerful force and allowing it to move through me. Once it is has passed, I desperately search for the peace and joy in the moments in between, trying not to dwell on the intensity of what I just felt or on what’s coming next.
I’m not sure exactly what happened in between her birth and his death. It all feels blurry right now. I think there was sand and sunshine, a little doom and June gloom. Birthday celebrations, trips and other ordinary memories that are now anything but that.
The only thing I am sure of is right now. I am alive. Living this season, this moment, in gratitude, prayer, anger, sadness and hope.