(This is a continuation of my last post “When Grief Comes…” If you haven’t read it, please do so, and then continue here.)
I learned a few things from that moment of grief at the San Diego airport. One of them is that it really IS ok to cry. It’s ok to let yourself hurt and feel and remember. In fact, some times it is necessary for you to move on, to get to your next destination.
I learned that grief is good and that this was my dad and this was simply another way to honor him. Even though it caught me in a very public place, I would have done myself a disservice and him a dishonor, to push his memory away.
It never really goes away, anyway. Why not just let it come and let it teach and transform me when it comes?
Because it will.
Grief is a gift and if we allow it to, it will lead us into depths of love and oceans of gratitude we could not possibly have known or felt otherwise.
It takes us on a journey that enlarges our hearts for so much more. More beauty, more joy, more compassion, more love.
I have seen and felt it do its work many times, but none quite like that day, when I stood in the spot where my dad had last walked and breathed and smiled at me. It had been awhile since I remembered him so vividly. His humanity and his greatness. His mistakes and his wisdom.
It had been awhile since I had remembered his love and his care, so flawed and imperfect and yet so deep.
And it had been awhile since I had become so grateful.
Much like the first wave that had hit me and knocked me off my feet, a wave of deep, powerful love washed over me and left me feeling incredibly blessed and thankful. Thankful that I had known such a man like my dad. Thankful that he had let me in to his pain. Thankful that it had changed me. And that I had become the compassionate person that I am, because of it.
I realized more than ever, that even my father’s death had been a gift, because it had enlarged my heart to feel love in ways I never would have felt otherwise. It had left me searching and vulnerable and exposed, but in the searching, I had found something I didn’t even know I needed. A touch of eternity.
Like the saying goes, “it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” Never do you know this more than when you grieve.
So, I am learning to let myself remember. And in that remembering, to honor the man I called my dad. I am learning to pay my respects to him, by not pushing his memory aside. No matter where I am. No matter when it comes.
I am learning to grieve, and in grieving, to be thankful for what I had, for what I learned, and for all the love I knew.