Last week was Thanksgiving, which has become a very bittersweet time for me. It’s a time to reflect on all of the blessings in your life, and a time to appreciate the people and things and moments for which you are grateful.
This year, Thanksgiving fell on November 24th, the 5th anniversary of the day my father died. It’s a sad time of year for me, and yet, I can’t help but smile when I think of him. He was a wonderful, caring, loving man, and I was extremely lucky to have him in my life for as long as I did. I still feel the pain of his loss every single day, but I feel his presence with me every single day, too. That brings me some measure of comfort.
But still. I miss him.
There is a void in my life since his death that I haven’t been able to fill. I don’t know that I’m supposed to, really. It’s like an immovable obstacle that suddenly appears in your path, one that you cannot change no matter how hard you try, so you eventually learn to just work around it and go about your business. It becomes part of the fabric of your everyday life. You don’t like it, but you get used to it.
Today, I spoke with an acquaintance who shared some terrible news with me: her 22-year-old niece died in a car accident a week and a half ago, and a few days later, her beloved dog of 16 years also died. All of this happened within days of Thanksgiving.
As a mother myself, it’s nearly impossible to see anything positive or helpful spring forth from a tragedy like this. No parent should ever have to cope with the unspeakable burden of burying their own child. But, I did find myself taking comfort in the fact that the dog died within a few days of the girl’s death…as if the dog sensed her owner’s grief, and decided it was her time to go so that she could watch over the niece as she transitioned to the other side.
I know, it sounds hokey and spiritual and “out there,” but I do believe that there is a life after this one. That who we are, our spirit, our essence, lives on. I know, with certainty, that my father lives on. And that one day, I will see him again.
Until then, I will have to be content with the small, fleeting glimpses that keep hope alive in this world. The wonderful-but-all-too-rare visions of him, dreams of seeing him and talking with him and seeking his counsel. The unmistakable feeling that he is present, here with me now, as I type this, and at some future point in time, as you read this, watching over us both.