I didn’t. And, you shouldn’t.
I had been back and forth from Minneapolis to Philadelphia 3 or 4 times and every time I was told this could be the last time I would see my Dad. But this time was different. Something told me it would in fact be the last time I saw him. The night and morning before I left were the hardest hours of my life up to that point. And the question I asked myself was “What was I going to say to him?”.
It turned out it was the last time I would see my Dad alive. A few weeks later, on Father’s Day, he died. I had my plane ticket in my hand to see him on that day and I did not make it home in time.
One year later on Father’s Day, 2000, I realized something and with tears coming down my face, I wrote the below poem…
NOTHING TO SAY
I laid staring into the mystical darkness on the eve before I must say goodbye to my dying father. My body trembling with anxiety as I tasted the salt from my tears and felt the thumping of my heart filled with fear and sorrow.
What was I going to say to the man that I regarded the earthly creator of my fragile soul…the being I adored so deeply? My hero.
How was I going to express my gratitude for being my spiritual leader and always understanding or perhaps not understanding but simply gently placing his arms around me, his son?
I began to reminisce of all the times I had shared with my father and then came the most extreme pain I had ever experienced in my short lived life.
My being went into a state of panic wondering what I was going to do without his presence. There was going to be no more time together, nothing else to store away as a treasured memory between father and son.
The man that taught me to be honorable would not see me develop as a man. He would not be at my wedding nor hold my children…he would never answer the phone again when I call for advice or affirmation. I would never see him smile or feel his touch again.
I needed to come up with the right words. I owed him that.
It seemed as if the demons had crept into my bed and stripped me of my ability to think…to articulate my feelings. I could not with all my soul think of anything to say that would give justice to the depth of what I felt for this man or express the immense amount of gratitude I owed him.
Demons tore at my being..twisting my mind, ripping at my heart, and laying flames to my soul.
I had nothing to say and as my swollen eyes fell victim to exhaustion I fell asleep empty handed with no heavenly words to bring before my father’s withering physical being. I was going to fail my Dad.
The next day the time came for me to go before my hero and say goodbye.
There are not words that I am aware of to describe what I felt as his withered, shaking hand reached for mine…he simply grabbed my hand and put it on his chest and stared ahead.
The silence in the room reminded me of the demons of the night before and I prayed, at that moment, that I would say something right….something to let him know how I felt and to comfort him. Nothing.
Moments later it was time to go. I don’t know why it was…It just was. I looked at my father and our eyes connected. Then I saw a tear in the eye of the man I considered my rock.
I began to cry and put my head on his chest and for the last time felt the touch of my hero…so gentle.
Still, I had nothing to say, so I picked my head up and leaned over and kissed him on the forehead and then whispered, “I love you Dad, I will carry your torch”…and I left.
Damn. The demons had won, so I thought. I hated myself. “What the hell was that?”.
I could not believe that was it and I never came up with the right words….I had been swept out to sea and felt the loneliness of the water all around me.
Today, one year later, I simply tell you that the night before I had to say goodbye to my father it was not the demons stealing my thoughts but rather angels gathering all that had been said and done and bringing them to heaven to await my father’s arrival.
You see, I had said it all before and God and Dad knew that.
There was nothing to say and there lies the beauty of the union of a connected father and son. The union I miss every waking moment. ~ TC, Father’s Day 2000
I write this 2 weeks before Father’s Day, 2015. I will not spend Father’s Day mourning as I once did. I will spend it living in the light of my Dad and being the best Father I can be to my two sons. Will there be moments that I am rendered breathless in thinking about him? Probably. Will I have moments that I wish he could have met my wife and held my sons? Absolutely. But, there will not be a moment and never has been that I wished I could have told him I loved him, wished I would have thanked him, or wished I would have let him know he was my hero. I had told him all of that and much more many times over. And this fact has allowed me to live without this regret. Having to grieve is one thing…a beast. Having to grieve with regret I simply can not imagine.
This post is not about death. It is about life and how we interact with the ones we love and people in general….in life and leadership.
We have all heard the cliche, Live for today for we are not promised tomorrow. For those of us that have lost people dear to us we know this cliche to be true. But as you read this, know there are deep lessons in this overused phrase…very deep and ones that can be turned into action.
I had mentioned that I did not know how the topics of this blog would unfold and this surely brings truth to that statement. I was sitting with a person yesterday that does similar work as me….a new friend. She shared with me that she was recently asked to write a eulogy for someone who’s dear aunt was in hospice. She had asked the woman to write down how her aunt had impacted her life. When they met my friend gave her what she had written. The woman loved it. Then, my friend said, “Now go read it to your aunt today”. You see the words should be heard by the person they are about. And, I left inspired to write this post.
So, YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? Say it then. I say URGENT, because it is. Don’t believe me…you will when that day comes. So who will you call or write a message to today? Who will you forgive or ask forgiveness from? Who will you simply tell them you love them? Who will you say thank you to and for what? This is yet another way to “Give Yourself a Gift Today”. The operative word….Today. You don’t have to wait for birthday’s, holidays, etc…we are not promised the next one.
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Next post on cliches, so be sure to sign up to make sure you don’t miss it.