Me & Death: It’s Complicated

Some of my best memories with my dad were spent in his white New Balance sneakers and light-wash, loose-fit Levi’s jeans; hiking, walking, doing chores, working on school projects, soccer games or hanging Christmas lights. He was casual and simple, with an extraordinary capacity for unconditional love and random acts of goodness.

My dad consistently met chaos with peace and with one quick glance of those crystal blue eyes, I felt understood. He always “got it”, he was always on my team and he gave the best back massages that always ended with a triple tap. Not the triple tap!

My dad and I had a great relationship.

I don’t, however, have a great relationship with death.

My concept of Heaven and hell is pretty similar to the one I constructed as a child from church and CCD classes. It’s not something that I have developed over the years because it’s not something I’ve been confronted with head on and it’s not something I like to think about.

I feel so ill-equipped with trying to find peace and “answers” in response to my ignorant, question master, Grief. Questions about where my dad is and what he’s doing, despite being someone with a solid faith. I know he is in Heaven. I know he is here with me. I know that I find his memory in everything I do right now.

I just desperately want to know that he is okay. I want to know that he is happy. I do, deep down I do. From every dream and every conversation we’ve had in this new type of relationship, he is nothing but perfect.

I think a part of the struggle is me projecting my fear of eternity onto him, mostly because it’s a big, beautiful, bright unknown. Unknowns are scary, uncertainty is unsettling, but as I am learning about this whole grief thing, discomfort tends to hang on you constantly like an overtired toddler.

The line between life and death is paper thin. The difference of one breath. The two used to seem so far away from each other, but not anymore. It’s less of a separation and more of a compilation.

Every day the sun comes up. Some days I want it to freeze and for everyone to stop and share in our sadness, validating the magnitude of our loss, and other days I wish it to be 365 sunrises later.

Coura gets older with every bath, like a tiny part of her babyhood is swept away with the sponge. She always looks more mature wrapped up tightly in her towel; bright and clean. [I wish I could say that’s why she only gets a bath once a week, but that would be a generous explanation for my second child laziness.]

All of those trite sayings like “life goes on” and “life’s short!” are actually, annoyingly and thankfully so very true.

I don’t know if there are oranges in Heaven or if there is night and day or if eternity is a place where we go and relive all of our alternate lives.

But thank you God for incredible sisters who share my feelings, thoughts and soul. For new friends and old friends. A husband who holds my hand through it all and kids who bring out all the joy and tears. For a mom who is brave enough to get up every morning, run, shower and face the day with a smile and tears. For loving aunts and an uncle who is a treasure chest of stories, legacy and deep love.




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