I have some sad news - my dear father passed away. He had been sick for awhile but we didn't expect him to go quite this quickly. My family is still in shock that our strong, smart Dad is no longer sitting at the head of the dinner table, listening to his favorite opera or typing away in his beloved office.
Accepting his death has been a difficult transition. Catch me on a bad day and gratitude is hard to come by - an elusive goal - more something I think I should be feeling than a true emotion.
But more and more often, I feel gratitude coming straight from my heart. Gratitude for the very special time my sisters and Mom and I spent with him at the end. Gratitude for the very full life that my father lived. Gratitude for his action-packed final year - my Dad traveled to Europe, visited all of his family members, wrote a chapter for a colleague's book, spoke at his academic conference and spent lots of time with his best friend in the world, my Mom, whom he loved dearly. WOW - that's a lot for a 79 year old!!
After my father's death, my sister Terry spent time in an old growth forest, noticing the circle of life that takes place there so naturally. I want to share a bit of what she said: "An old growth forest is a comforting place to be at a time like this. The forest is filled with so many nurse logs and tree snags that support a rich diversity of life, it is very apparent that life and death are part of an interconnected circle and support one another. Even after a tree dies, it is an integral part of the existing life system. I think Dad will live on through the people that his life touched and those who loved him. His spirit will always be alive."
Isn't that a wonderful way to look at it? The death of a loved one is always sad but wallowing in our sorrow only gets us so far. Similar to when my sweet brother-in-law passed away from cancer, I have a renewed sense that life is a special gift and that we should celebrate and be grateful for it each and every day.
Will you take a minute or two in your busy day to be grateful for your wonderful life?
(image from sodahead.com)