My dad’s birthday is tomorrow. He would have been 63. My dad, Errol Brown passed away in 2013. I don’t like to think about the day he died as an anniversary. Don’t get me wrong. I know the date, I know the time. I just don’t like to dwell on it. I do however, like to celebrate his birthday. I’m not talking bells and whistles. I just mean that I like to sit and think about him, really try to remember those things about him that I loved and cherished.
I decided to put up this post because I think that grief is a terribly tricky thing. In the beginning there is a numbness that overtakes you. I think, for me, it was a way of protecting myself from the overwhelming sadness of my dad’s passing. I just kind of sat there, staring off, thinking about the fact that my dad wasn’t in this world anymore. I thought about how the sun was still shining and the Earth was still turning even though this monumental shift had occurred. And then, there were tears. Days and days of tears. I cried when I was driving, eating, even in the few fitful nights of sleep I got, there were tears.
When we got around to planning a funeral I witnessed something that changed me forever. I saw that grief had affected me in a very different way then it had other members of my family. I saw people who hadn’t seen my father in years show up out of the blue and take off with some of his belongings. I saw people yell and demand that they had a right to his things but then didn’t show up at the funeral. I wondered how anyone could be worried about who would get what when all I wanted was my dad. All I wanted was to see him one more time.
The loss of my father was stinging and his absence was glaring. I knew that he would have put everyone in their place if he had been there. He was the peacekeeper. He would give you the shirt off of his back. He would give you everything even if it meant he had nothing. That anyone felt they had to steal from him was a disgrace to his memory.
The ebb and flow of the emotions I was feeling consumed me. Very shortly after my dad’s passing I went to work (at a job I absolutely detested). I tried to just move forward. What I realized is that I couldn’t just move on. I couldn’t just walk through life numb and sad and angry. I realized that I had to process what was happening and how I was feeling.
I went home and I had an honest conversation with myself. I said aloud what I knew to be true. I can’t control the actions of others. I can’t turn back time. I can’t have my dad back. I also, in a moment of clarity, realized a few other things. I realized that I CAN control my reaction to these events. The world is still spinning. My kids and husband still need me. And most importantly, my dad would want me to be happy.
I decided to commit myself to doing the things that made me happy. I spent more time with my kids. I quit my shitty soul crushing job and sat down to write the novel that went on to become Six Points of Light (which is dedicated to him). I sang and danced and rejoiced because I could. Because I wanted to. I wanted to be happy and I could hear my dad’s voice say “Well, do it then.”
Death is a part of life. Loss is a process. Forgiveness is something that cannot be underestimated in its ability to heal. I went forward with hope and determination to do something meaningful. to be more than what I thought I could be.
If you are grieving the loss of loved one I would say. Sit in that pain and allow it to wash over you. Allow yourself to feel it. Cry, scream, get angry. Do all of those things, but then, do something else. Understand that you are still here and you are a soul with a light that is still burning. Feed that flame in memory of your loved one. It was so hard for me to see that the world around me hadn’t appeared to change at all after my father’s death. I felt as if the ground had opened up and swallowed me whole, but now I understand why. It’s to show you that life is still out there waiting for you to live it. The sun rises and sets because it can. And that is a beautiful sight to behold, made even more brilliant by the understanding that the time we have here is precious.
Thanks for reading.