I Am My Dad Today

Has anyone faded away from you?

I know I am not alone. I know there are many others who share the loss I feel because someone they love is fading away from them.

Whether the reason has a name like dementia or Alzheimer’s or is nameless, whole parts of them seem to be missing and it creates a huge hole in their world. And my world too.

To watch this happen, whether bit by bit or all of a sudden and know there is nothing you can do to stop it, brings a cascade of tears.

How are we, the ones left empty and dry by their departure, to sit with this sense of loss?

I can only answer this for myself, but perhaps by sharing a part of me, there might be something valuable for you.

I write.

And through the writing, I allow my heart to bleed words onto the page.

For me, this is a way to vent the grief I feel and once it is outside of me, I can breathe again. I can let go of what I’m holding inside that rests on my chest and smothers me.

By writing, I open to wisdom and peace and let words flow through me into the open air.

Here is the poem I wrote.

I Am My Dad Today

I am my dad today.

At least that’s what my mother thinks.

She calls me by his name, her only connection to this world.

She asks me (him) where she is. I tell her but it doesn’t sink in.

She asks again.

I offer another answer and it falls into the same dark hole with everything else I say.

For a moment, I am not my father, and she asks me who I am.

I brace myself and tell her, I am your son.

A look crosses her face.

I wonder, could it be recognition?

She looks up at me and tells me she has no children.

I guess that makes my sister and me orphans. It’s certainly the way a part of me feels.

I wonder what string attaches her to this earth. I can’t see one. It must be some sort of magic.

It’s time for me to go. I tell her I need to go home to make dinner.

She asks me when she will see me again.

I try to calm myself.

I tell her that my sister, her daughter, will be with her tomorrow and that I’ll see her again the next day.

She turns away.

I walk out of her room wondering who I will be to her then. I cannot possibly know.

The one thing I do know is she will still be my mother.

I try to find some peace in this.

I love you mom.                             (end)

I know that I cannot change what is happening to her or to me, but I need to find a way to live in this new space.

I’m sure that others who have experienced this might be able to shed some light on this for me, but I want to know what god has to tell me.

So, I ask.

My answer comes from a part of god I know and love. It’s a part of god I know as Lia, which stands for Love In Action. She has a distinctly feminine voice and always speaks loving truth to me.

I try to calm myself and let go of the distractions that surround me. I breathe in and out, slowing and softening, so I can hear her voice clearly. When I find some peace, she speaks.

“The solace you seek comes when you release and accept.”

She continues, “Yes, of course, you feel deeply for the living loss of your mom, who is both here and not here. Rest easy and remember this…when she is with you, she is yours AND when she drifts beyond you, she is mine. She slips past the veil between worlds, and she comes to be with me. We sit together with the most precious love surrounding us and we rest in this beautiful state of bliss.”

I take heart and she tells me more.

“I know that all you see is a woman you love who appears to be here with you, but you cannot seem to reach her, and she seems disconnected and far, far away from you. I encourage you to see beyond this surface view. I ask you to accept my blessed assurance that she is with me and is always covered in my love.”

I sit with this revelation and let it fill me with peace. I do still feel the loss of connection with my mom, but something deeply profound has change inside of me and I now know she will always be taken care of, not by me, but by the sweetness of the divine.

Losing Friends

Have you ever lost someone important to you?

Is there anyone who could say ‘no’ to this question? I cannot imagine this being the case, unless you are very, very young.

How can we cope with our sense of loss?

I realize everyone is different and no one approach will work for all, but I feel compelled to try to open some kind of door here. Certainly, for myself, but also for you, if that is something you desire.

Like many others, I have experienced a great deal of loss in my life. Some of it in dramatic fashion, some over prolonged time periods, some from a distance, some close up.

During a relatively short period of time, I lost my father, my best friend of forty years, my mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law, a great aunt and my daughter’s family boxer. All these beautiful, incredible beings passed from this life to another, through the arms of death.

Absorbing the emotional impact of these transitions was very challenging for me. I had to recognize this was the truth. I couldn’t hide from the pain or ignore it. I couldn’t rationalize that they were better off leaving their lives here. There was a kind of limbo inside of me that surrounded their passing. A suspended state, leaving me wondering about how we are all connected and whether the connection goes on, despite their physical absence.

I was attempting to find my way through this when another loss occurred. Even though not a brother by birth, I had a deep connection with another and called him my brother, and he died by his own hand. Gone in one second of time. Violent, tragic, and yet completely understandable to me, given his circumstances. In his death I recognized that any form of judgment muddies the water. You cannot know another’s path without being on it yourself.

I also discovered that not all loss is the result of physical death. Friendships die, even long-term ones. And they can be just as painful. All those years melting away into mere memories.

It is easy to become stuck in the sadness and sense of loss. And the pain often extends outward into other areas in your life, sometimes overwhelmingly so.

So, where did my struggles take me?

One direction led me to asking why any of us are here? Is it solely to experience our heart’s breaking?

I believe the truth is that we are not here to subtract from each other’s lives but to add to them.

I bolded that statement because it is that important. Those few words shifted something huge inside of me and offered me a question to ponder.

Who am I now, that they were in my life? What did we share? What did we offer each other?

I feel glory in my answers to these questions.

I feel an awareness of something real and tangible. A sense of beauty and depth and how my life is better, fuller, grander because of them.

I sense that parts of them are now parts of me and I can pass them on to others. Their lives then extend through me, becoming another part of the amazing tapestry that covers this world.

Whatever pain or suffering once existed, can be transformed, if I allow it. If I encourage it. If I embrace it.

If I open and let my feelings run through me and guide them, knowing ‘all is well with the world’, I become free and can remember clearly how beautiful every connection I’ve ever made truly is. All a part of the whole.

When I see my life through this lens I feel blessed.

More Forgiveness

Perhaps you’ve witnessed the same thing I have.

At times I’ve seen a wonderful relationship between two people come apart at the seams. The glue suddenly melts away, because of something said or left unsaid. Hearts become hardened and everyone loses something important. And always, there is a loss of the connection to love.

In 1990, I wrote a series of stories which became my first book. The title of the book is, Witness of the Heart, and it’s very precious to me. It’s the first experience I had where I felt (god) was writing with me. And, writing it was my way of speaking what felt like the truth to me and of saying what my heart yearned to tell others. Doing this released something that was wrapped up inside me. It was incredibly liberating.

Once the story was down on paper, everyone else could make up their own mind about its value. But, at least it was there.

Here is the story that came to me about the experience of forgiveness.

many things have a beginning

but most do not,

they just continue.

they include

some of what has been

and reach for what will be.

some things

we seem a part of

others

leave us outside

it is that way.

but,

we strive to always

be within

even at the center

and this causes each of us pain.

once,

we saw

how two lost sight of this.

they hadn’t meant for the fight to happen

but neither could they stop it

once it had begun.

and it hardened each of them

and they would not speak

nor look at one another.

and time did not heal them.

a season passed

and another

until it became more and

more difficult to remember

what had split them.

but this did not change

their resolve

instead their bitterness grew.

and another season

came and went

and to their shame

nothing changed.

and as it happens

some are strong

others weak

and one of them

slowed

and became sick.

the other saw

but could do nothing

for their hardness

kept them away.

and sliding from this life

the one who was sick

called for the one who was well.

and the well one came

and their eyes met

and as it has the power to do

sickness allowed a bridging.

and they overcame

their distance

and held each other’s hand.

while they sat together

the sick one formed

“I’m sorry”

on his lips

and the well one saw

and wept.

and in that moment

each realized what burdens

you carry

when you can not forgive.

and how it lessens you

and closes you

and keeps you from the

fullness of life.

It strikes me that there is an anatomy to forgiveness.

At first, a seed is planted. We let what is said or done enter some part of us that keeps track of all things. Our reaction may happen through a thought or feeling, but some part of us has taken it personally. A remark or action has challenged us or forced us outside our comfort zone and we feel the need to defend ourselves or to attack others.

I wonder, what if we didn’t take anything personally? What if we allowed everything to flow through us, not bothering to hold anything inside, especially those things which seem to hurt?

The Toltec wisdom tradition teaches this as one of its four cornerstones. They recognize the incredible merit to understanding that what is said or done to you by another, is solely about them. None of it is about you, unless of course, you choose to believe that it is.

I grant you that this is a skill that requires practice.

The question, as always is, is the practice worth it?

That’s a decision we each must make for ourselves. I hope what you choose creates peace and harmony in your life.

Information about Witness of the Heart is available by clicking on BOOKS and scrolling down.

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