August 23, 2007– TODAY IS A NEW DAY
My Dad died late last night. I knew that he was dying for the better part of the past year. Today, I said goodbye. I believe it set me free. And I believe it set him free.
“The protected heart that is never exposed to loss, innocent and secure, cannot know tenderness; only the won-back heart can ever be satisfied: free, through all it has given up, to rejoice in its mastery.”
I learned last night shortly after11pm that my Dad was gone. I jumped onto my computer and went off on a stream-of-consciousness rant. A rant that I was not proud of when I read it this morning. But more on that…
After writing last night, and wrapping up just before 2am, and after a couple of Grey Goose and Red Bulls –which I had not-so-incidentally recently sworn off—I decided to go for a run. I grabbed my IPOD, threw on my Da Hui club shorts (which can get you beat up North Shore Oahu unless you’re cleared by the Wolf Pac) and took the short walk down to the beach. And I started to run. The tide was exceptionally low last night, and I ran barefoot, about 20 yards out from what is the normal tide line between the San Clemente Pier and North Beach. The half-moon, combined with a low, white cloud cover, lit the water in a very eerie way. I selected some old school Enigma, and with the lighting, the tunes, the low-level Bull and Goose buzz fading and my father’s death still taking hold, it was as if I was reaching for and running in an alternate dimension.
I ran about 6 solid miles in ankle deep water, not seeing another soul the entire way. I returned to the pier, put my IPOD on the sand, and Jaws be damned, took a 3amswim in very warm, calm water. Head cleared, wet and now shivering, I walked home, listening to a great and inspirational song called “Sometimes” by Spearhead (check it out).
As I approached home, like a lighting bolt, a thought hit me….I have Plantar fasciitis on the bottom of my right foot, which is a fancy term for a tendon that hurts so badly, it sometimes feels like you have a knife in your foot simply from walking. Translation – I’m not “supposed” to be able to run, AT ALL. Let alone barefoot. For 6 miles. In the sand.
That got me to thinking, about limits, self-imposed and otherwise. It makes me think about what we’re supposed to do, and what we’re conditioned to feel, in certain circumstances. My Dad’s just died. How I am supposed to be feeling?
I slept soundly, and awoke to over 30 incredible, heartfelt e-mails, voicemails and Myspace messages. For which I’ll be forever grateful.
And then my day really started. A group of 3 new friends, all from theIslands, took me down to the beach. They had kuleles and drums, and did an authentic native prayer for my Dad. My dear friend Rene, who has been one of my massage therapists for years and who is now an ordained minister specializing in healing breath work, came over and worked with me for 2 hours. My soon-to-be-ex-wife and amazing pal Gabrielle brought me a book “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” and insisted that I read a particular chapter to insure I was in fact dealing (as she knew I have not shed a tear during this past year). The chapter takes you through several exercises, culminating with you having a one-to-one talk with the departed. During this process, you are supposed to both forgive them for all you perceive they have done to negatively affect you, and you are to articulate all you have done to wrong them, and ask for their forgiveness. I promised her I would do it, so…what the heck. I started awkwardly, “talking” with my Father. A half-hour later, with tears steaming down my face, I had “spoken” with both my Dad and my Mom, and had forgiven them and been forgiven by them.
I reflect on what I wrote about last night. Reading it now, it sounds like complaint. What I meant to say, when I wrote about…
…my Mom dying suddenly and “shockingly” (as I put it), is that a person’s existence here is temporary, but that love is forever.
…my being “terminally” ill for 3 years, is that there truly is NOTHING and no obstacle that cannot be overcome through determination and conviction, despite the “fact” that obstacle may be “impossible” to overcome.
As I’m writing this, a fly was buzzing around my keyboard. I absent-mindedly reached out to grab it, “knowing” subconsciously that would never happen. And…I caught it. As I got up, walked to my door and released it, this realization hit me like a ton of bricks. The only things that are impossible are the things that we ourselves term impossible. WE ARE CAPABLE OF ALL.
Toward the end of the night tonight, I got a deluge of phone calls, from friends new and old.
I am truly blessed to have new friends, like AS, AJ and NO, who I think and hope are good friends already and likely as well, lifelong friends. I thank you each for the wisdom, humor and counsel you imparted, and for the time you gave me, today and tonight. And more than anything, I look forward to growing our friendships.
And I am equally blessed with my friends of a lifetime, nearly every single one of whom I had a “real” conversation with tonite. Kevin,, Brett, Eric, Jeff, Joey. I love you all and look forward to celebrating with most of you Sunday at my Dad’s memorial.
“The true recipe to happiness is to be open to everything and attached to nothing.”
To what do we attach ourselves? Fear, for sure. Material goods. Persons in our lives. As flippant as this may sound, fear is easily defeated, when we recognize and embrace its exact opposite…Love.
Yeah, I dig my car, my watch, my cool beach pad, my hi-tech Mogul cell/world phone (actually, the phone kinda sucks) but we all know they’re just things, and things come and go.
And the people in our lives. The lesson I’ve been working on learning, and the one that hit me like a sledgehammer today, is to love and appreciate those special persons in our lives while they’re here, and to love and appreciate them that much more when they’re gone. And above all, to release the attachment once they’ve passed. Let them go.
I write a lot about my glass being half-full when circumstances are challenging. I know now, more than ever, that what’s challenging is that which WE make challenging.
I go to bed now with my glass completely full. And excited for tomorrow.
September 19, 2011.
I read this now, 4 years and 27 days after I first wrote it (and posted it on Myspace) and geez…
…well, it’s all true, every word of it, and I have to believe it does reflect how I was feeling at the time. But…geez.
As I continue to write, the more I believe, the more I hope, I am finding my truth. I know that in order to cleanse, I must find my truth. To cleanse.
And another truth is, there were times I was horrible to my Dad when he was dying. First, let me make myself feel better, and sound better to you… sure, I travelled to the Desert often, to go shopping with him and Brendie to put him on a healthy diet. And took him through light workouts, again and again. And spoke with him –and Brendie—on the phone, daily, at length. Trying to work them through it.
But, I was also horrible.
When we learned that Brendie was going to do all she could to maneuver Ken and I out of our share of OUR inheritance. And we clearly, plainly presented evidence of this to Dad, and he wouldn’t do anything about it.
I was horrible.
I realize now that he couldn’t do anything about it. Brendie was his primary caregiver, his wife, and he did love her. But mainly, I surmise that she intimidated him, in her sometimes gentle, sometimes pretty obvious way of manipulation. He must have been made to believe that if he didn’t give into her shenanigans, than she would abandon him. He just wouldn’t do anything about it.
And I was horrible.
I railed against him. Walked out on him numerous times. Called him “weak.”
Sure, I can rationalize my behavior by saying that I was in my first throes of drug addiction. That all three of my businesses were failing. That I was going through a divorce. And that despite all this, I would make numerous 170 mile round trips to the Valley each week. To visit with he and Brendie. To talk her off the ledge when she would say, “I can’t take this anymore. (his treatment of her while he was ill). I’m leaving!”
But there is no rationalizing that rings true. I was horrible.
The last time I saw my Dad while he was relatively clear-headed and lucid, it was at a meeting at his house, that he and Brendie had called; just the three of us. She, I was told, wanted to get the inheritance straight. I learned during this “meeting” that Brendie was going to get the entire house in the Desert, and one-half of the house that we grew up in. I point blank put it to the both of them, how unfair, how disproportionate that was. I could absolutely tell, 100%, that Dad agreed, but he would do nothing about it.
I had an opportunity. Forgive Brendie and love Dad. Instead, I walked out on them. To a look of indescribable sadness on Dad’s face.
The next time I saw my Dad, he was in hospice care, and in a near coma. I held his hand, looked at his near lifeless body, and whispered into his ear. You are a great man. You have been the most amazing Dad and father that I could have every hoped for you. I love you with all my heart.
I think he may have smiled. But that could also have been my imagination. His last memory of his eldest son could be that his eldest son walked out on him.
The last time I saw my Dad, at least in person, was at his funeral. I lingered by his casket, and bent to kiss his icy forehead.
—– BTDT —–
I see my Dad often now. More and more as of late, it seems. I actually find myself on occasion picking up the phone to call him. I want to say, “Dad, I understand, and I forgive you. Will you forgive me? PLEASE?”
Will I ever reconcile myself to this, ever forgive myself…