Monday, March 01, 2010

A unifying thread

I am back...after a long hiatus.

This time away has afforded me a chance to reflect ( all those great things that are not quite me )..But there is no getting around it, every day I find something that can both separate us, but can also be a unifying thread.

This past year has been difficult, so difficult.I have chosen my own way of dealing with losing dad.It seems to work best for me right now...I pretend that it never happened.That I never lost my advisor,my cool guy, my gardening buddy.My comrade on every happy and loud Sunday morning.And that one person who always believed in me...even when self confidence was at an all-time low.

Late last year ,I attended a memorial service for someone I had known briefly and was fond of.A wound had been re-opened.I was reminded again of how fragile life really uncertain it can be.But how wonderful...and how in that span you have the ability to make something great of your life.

It is always so touching to hear stories of past memories .Soon after dad passed away, I wouldn't have any of it.I didn't want to hear stories from the past, that would only force me to accept the present...But today..there are some days, listening to stories,most that I've heard before,it makes me smile.Thinking of dad as a youngster,bullying the neighbour's kids...standing up for his friends and siblings,relishing his favorite roadside food,stealing his uncle's car..all these warm memories make me smile.I am trying to block out the last year ...the illness..the weakness ,the irritability and pain.I don't want that to be the way I remember him most recently...but what can I do? When I try and see him in my mind..that's all that I can conjure up- Daddy weak and frail, walking unsteadily,gasping for breath,lying dwarfed by a hospital bed,hand riddled with needles and pain, scared...

Why did that illness take from me my memories of daddy? The cheeriest man,the loudest man couldn't string two sentences together without gasping or wheezing in between.Daddy ,who insisted that roadside food was totally safe ...wasn't allowed to eat it anymore.He would sniff sadly as we drove by.From the man who held my hand when I took my first the man who leaned heavily on me when he could barely manage steps of his own.From the bravest man I know,who insisted that no question was not worth asking,"What's the worst that they can say? No...that's the worst right?" a man whose face belied his fear when we wheeled him through those hospital doors.

My experience with cancer has always been a sad one.This one crushed left me no will to live.I bet there are many others like me who have suffered through this terrible disease.Who have lost people they loved like life itself, and have lost to horrifying deaths like Daddy.Sometimes it is through these experiences,through such suffering that you find a common bond.I recently met someone ( who is now very important to me), through this process.Having lost her own mother very young,she has helped me regain a semblance of my zest for life.Something as personal as family and loss can help you forge bonds and find common ground.I believe in that now.

Something struck me at the memorial service I mentioned above.Listening to friends share their stories from an earlier time...I was reminded of stories we heard from people who had known dad.No one really remembers bad incidents or tells you of hurtful times...all they remember of a person's life is the good stuff.The happy days..the mischief..the laughs.

Memorial services are done differently where I am from.But what struck me at this,my first one in the US,was how similar they really are.A celebration of life, gratitude that you knew the person,perhaps a sign to let go of any remaining anger and a hope for the family to find acceptance and peace.The words were different...the colours,the language,the people...but the sentiment..the tears and the prayers..they were all the same.

Through out our lives we believe that language,race,culture and traditions are what defines us.Makes us who we are,and in doing so make us different from each other.

That day..I realised that in death,it is those very same things that unite us , that joins all our lives together with a common,unifying thread.