I've been avoiding my mat for about 3 weeks now. So, I got back on the horse today. And about 3/4 of the way in I realized...
When my father learned that he was sick, the doctor thought he would have two years to live. When Dad told me, I was gobsmacked (under exaggeration). I didn't see that coming. He passed away about 2 weeks later. Thankfully, I was able to get home to spend his last week with him (not knowing it would be his last week). It was shocking to see how many years (decades) he had aged in just a few months because of a richter's transformation in his undiscovered lymphoma. I had to keep my eyes wide while with him to prevent tear drops from falling - I wanted to be reassuring and calming. What I realized today was that had he had those two years, I would be saying goodbye sometime around now.
When I got back to Cairo, 3 weeks after my father died, my roommate and I were talking about how intense of a week it was when he died. I said something I wouldn’t have expected. I said it was the worst week of my life, but also somehow one of the best weeks of my life. I have just learned that in ayurveda there is a name for this time around a person's death: Satika. It is a time when you have one foot in the terrestrial world, and one foot in the heavenly realm. For me, it was a time of intense presence- all of me was drawn in to this focus point. And this process continued for about a year. It was both a time of deep sorrow and inner conflict, but acute consciousness, presence and sensitivity. The intense sensitivity ushered the capacity to see patterns that had been blocking me up until that point in my life, with clarity. The energy of my father’s death brought patterns that I was very unaware of to the forefront, to the point that I couldn’t believe I had carried some of those patterns with me all this time unaware. This doesn’t mean it made those patterns magically disappear. But it allowed me to see that there were pain points which I had accepted as normal in my life. I could see that actually they were micro choices and beliefs that I was repeating - Habits that were keeping me from being the most open source channel of love that I am meant to be... Things that were keeping me from living into my full dharma. This is not to say I am there yet! It is to say, that my father’s death was both the hardest thing I have endured, but it was also the most powerful teacher (almost palpable). The energetic reorganizing resulting from his passing, was for me, experienced as a huge energetic inheritance, a sort of powerful energy that I could 'spend' to reassess, and reorder the directions of my energy.
I always said “I am my father’s daughter”. I always felt I deeply understood my father and felt deeply understood by my father. I also grounded myself through my father, and had to go through the process of learning how to do that myself. After a little over 2 months passed, when I really yearned to speak with my father, I went through a process that I see as a cocoon. I slept as much as a baby I think. I know this is a symptom of depression, but I also feel that depression and sadness aren’t necessarily unhealthy in grieving. There was so much energy to let through, so much physical processing of the emotional load… emotionally digesting my 27.5 years with Dad, realizing the narrative of what that was, was now defined not in collaboration, but was now defined by just my perception. It was an abrupt coming to terms with the fact that the one person we are talking about, no longer has input on what words we choose to define them. Wow. There is a lot to process in death. There is a huge dispersing of energy.
One of the main lessons I learned in my father’s death, was celebration. Celebration brings us into presence. It connects us. It brings us out of resistance, so that we can digest, process and move forward. It allows us to move forward empty and ready for the next cycle, having fully appreciated the experience.
I wish I had of celebrated with my father more openly. I wish I had of given my father accolades. I wish I had of been aware of how much he meant to me. But I don’t feel it is too late.
Thanks for the walks on the beach every Sunday. For the walks in the woods. The ski days. The days at the gym. The days in the libraries. The days on the computer (in the 90s!). The bike rides. The camping. Thanks for the boogie boards. Thanks for Bradford Bear… an important cuddle bear all the way to university for this little vata. Thank you for the drives. Oh, Dad. You were the best at quality time. So dang insightful. You were enough. You were so enough. Thanks for your awesome hugs and your cute slobbery kisses. You were the cutest Dad. Your beautiful blue eyes, your cute big ears. You cooked some mean chicken wings and read a darn good story. Thanks for all the stories. Thanks for the books in the back of the van. Thanks for the Disney Movie nights together on Sunday evenings. Thanks for math nights. Thanks for teaching me about patterns with green apples and oranges. Thanks for being my research buddy. Thanks for painting my room on Centennial drive. Thanks for teaching how to drive on the Rattenbury Road and out at the base… backwards through all the cones (I was so angry, but so dang lucky). Thanks for showing up to Kelowna and teaching me how to drive my stick shift. Thanks for listening. You were such a great listener. This might be what I miss most. Your cool, calm listening. It engendered reflection, because I knew I could get it all out. I could hear myself. And then we would just pick the next step. That’s it. Just the next step towards what I wanted. Thanks for letting me explore and make mistakes on my own. I’m sure my bossy, “I can do it myselfness” must have been trying as a parent at times. Thanks for teaching me how to golf. Thanks for helping me get all of my ‘first jobs’, just by encouraging me to write the resumes and contact people… that all built a lot of character and confidence. Thanks for letting me have all of my friends over like family all the time and making it a comfortable spot for us. Thanks for how excited you were to pick up Anna and Simon with beer and the Anne of Green Gables hat. Such a welcoming host. Thanks for letting me build random nothings in the garage with your tools and wood scraps. Thank you for being such a present and available father. Tolerant, but firm. If you said 11, I said 12, you said 10:45. …Can I have 11 back? Thank you for the days at the cottage in Seaview. Thanks for making homemade videos with me and my friends (was that boring for you? Or hilarious to observe the grade 5 mind?). Thanks for lunch money- those Water Street sandwiches were so good. You were great with systems and routine. I relied on it, but I am determined to learn from it. Thanks for the vision you had of all of us spending time together- your plans of how you would entertain grand babies and “grand puppies”. I’m so glad we had so much good time together. It is hard not to want more. But there will be other opportunities later. Thanks for your seafood chowder. It was so good. And your blueberry pie. I want to talk to you more. I’m sorry we never got to go for after work beer because I didn’t live at home. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to spend time with your friends- a coming together of the people you love. Let’s talk more often, Dad. I always wonder what insight you would have to offer for my growing experiences. I’ll stay open to hearing you through new channels. How weird is it that when I flew back to Egypt when you left, our movie A Little Princess was on the flight… telling the story of her father dying. Only her Dad comes back. That coincidence was too big. A movie from the 90s on the flight… OUR movie? And she rubbed her father’s face in the movie, just as I unknowingly rubbed your face before you left. The promise is that we’ll see each other later. I was too upset at the time to see the reassurance, the gift in this synchronistic happening. But I get it now. And I wear Rama and Sita around my neck to remind me of The Little Princesss, and your powerful presence.
The experience of your death sharpened my most fundamental and foundational relationship- my relationship with life. So typical, Dad. You were always about the fundamentals.
When we block love from ourselves OR others (chicken or the egg, both perspectives have compelling cases) the effect is always reciprocal (blocked from ourselves we feel less loved, blocked from others we feel less loved). Blocked love isn't always a matter of simply saying I love you (to yourself or others). It is the difference in allowing loved ones to feel the enthusiasm and vulnerability you feel in loving them -that is the gift you have to share. As I give my father this love, even today I feel myself melting, softening. The love is free from the stagnation - Opening the channels.
I love myself, and I love all of you.