It was enough

29 06 2010

My Dad died one year ago today.

One of the most beautiful memories I have of his death is a conversation I had with my sister the night he died.  She was telling me how she had cleaned out the room he rented at his brother’s house within hours after his death.  At first, she told me, she was so hearbroken that our father’s entire life had been reduced to one room.  And that that room could be emptied, 80 years of life totally erased, in just a matter of hours.

Then, she said, “I realized that it wasn’t heartbreaking at all.  That room had been just enough for Dad.  He was nearing the end of his life and, where our society tells us that we have to have more and more and more, he saw that none of that mattered at the end of your life (ever??) and so, he had ‘just enough’ to live his final days.”

I remember us both saying how amazing it was that our father…a very simple man, an old boxer who spent the better part of every day camped out on a bar stool drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes…had been so wise in the end.

I had forgotten about that conversation until today, the one year anniversary of his death.

I cleared my schedule for the hours around 11:13 CST, the time of his death.  I wanted to be sure I was fully present to honor him when that moment came.

This morning, after meditation, I lit a candle for Dad.  It burned all morning.

Around 10 CST, I called my sister to check in.  Like me, she had freed her schedule to honor Dad.

We had a great, free-wheeling conversation that covered all the bases.  Talking over each other, as we do all the time.  Half-interrupting, half-finishing each other’s sentences.  Not from impatience, but from a love and an excitement that just wants to gobble up the entire buffet of each conversation.  We talked about work (and how much better the world would be if people would just do as we questions asked).  We talked about our pets that run our lives.  And we talked about the new beginnings that simultaneously are unfolding in our lives.  New beginnings that came, as all births do, from death.

All of a sudden, I looked at the clock.  I had totally lost track of time.

It was 11:13.

I stopped my sister.  “Well, it’s been exactly one year since Dad died.”

“So it has,” she said.

We then confessed to each other that while we had known we would each honor Dad in some way today at 11:13, we hadn’t a clue as to what that ‘honoring” would look like–though we each said we had some vague, slightly dramatic idea of sitting in silence, letting some equally dramatic something wash over us.

Now, here it was 11:14 and that moment, that opportunity to honor, had passed.

“You know,” I said, “the truth is that nothing would have pleased Dad more than to know that one year to the minute after he left us, his kids ‘honored’ him by simply being together, surrounded by love and laughter…and peace and opportunity.”

“You’re right,” my wise big sister said.  “We paused at 11:13, no drama, no big scene.  We were simply together.  It was enough.”

And it was.  Enough.




3 responses

30 06 2010
Joey G

Beautiful. Poignant. Touching. Heartfelt. Tugged my heartstrings and slapped me silly… then, Niagra Falls. Now where did I leave my Kleenex?

Keep writing, keep feeling, keep…


3 07 2010
jill leigh

What a difference a year makes! Beautiful transformation within and without.
Love and gratitude to you for friendship and time travelled together.

22 07 2010
Suzanne W

Thank you Will. ….lovely

On the 30th anniversary of my father’s death, I sat with a friend whose father had died only a month before. We chanted, and then we talked about what parts of our fathers still lived in us. It seemed fitting that two daughters should honor their respective fathers by sharing memories.

In 11 days, I will mark the 34th anniversary. I miss him still, and then I look into the mirror or help someone find answers by asking the right questions (as he did for me) and I know that he hasn’t gone far at all.

Abrazos, mi amigo,

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