So many stories I long to share, to call you up and tell you about. So many brainstorming sessions that I yearn to have with you. So many questions I want to process with you. So many experiences I crave to express to you.
For example, another creative genius died this month. Prince is gone, and it seems like too many greats are being called home, leaving this earth mourning and lost and headed for some sort of apocalypse.
As another illustration, I am reading this book by Brené Brown called Rising Strong about being vulnerable, compassionate, authentic people who set boundaries, and I wish I could talk to you about it.
Plus, she understands love and loss. Brown says, “Yes, I agree with Tennyson, who wrote, “ ’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” But heartbreak knocks the wind out of you, and the feelings of loss and longing can make getting out of bed a monumental task. Learning to trust and lean in to love again can feel impossible.” And she writes that “C. S. Lewis captured this so beautifully in one of my favorite quotes of all time: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” She captures the risk, the reward, and the problems that arise if we don’t take the risk.
In another instance, I want to tell you about Lexi and Laina, about all of the amazing things that they are doing and about the challenges they are facing and about the crazy, fun, couchsurfing adventure we had last week. And about how we all three miss you.
And of course I want to tell you this… I was selected as the Outstanding Adjunct for 2016 for the Eastern Florida State College Palm Bay Campus, and when I told Mom, the first thing she said was that you, Uncle David, would be so proud of me. I know that, and it warms my heart. I still wish I could call and tell you about it. Let you know how you helped me become the best teacher and person that I could be, and I am grateful for every phone call, email, visit, minute that you spent with me, showing me that you valued me, teaching me that my interests and desires are important, shaping my philosophies and morals. There are no words to describe what that means to my life.
Ironically, the ceremony where I will receive my award is on the very day that we lost you last April. Or is it apropos…a way to honor your help on my path to this moment.
The year anniversary of your death is here, and I still miss you so much. As time goes on, it doesn’t get easier, navigating this world without you, missing you, yet the ache of the loss does lessen overall, though sometimes it still strikes as sharp and painful as ever because the hole left in a world without you will never be completely filled.
But, I am mooring, pulling in everything you did for me, everything you taught me, everything beautiful and right and good about you. And I am holding it all inside me, not heavy like the weight of grief but shaped like the feather of an angel or a phoenix, light and loving. Shielding. Freeing.
At your funeral, they played “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and you were that for me and for so many of your family members.
In countless ways, you showed us too much to put into words—how one person can love another, how actions and words can run parallel, how taking time for others matters, how to listen, share, give, how to process this crazy world, how to care for all of God’s creatures, how to be respectful/courteous/kind, how to be centered in the midst of anything.
The grief I ball up like a stone, what’s left of it after all the tears that have bled out of me, and I hold it in my hands. I reach my arm back and launch it forward, away from me, releasing it into the ocean, back into the physical world.
As you would want for me, encourage me to do, I let go and look inside. Draw in courage from all that you shared, from all of the memories. Find hope for the future.
Time to choose, time to decide, time to stand strong.
I choose me, I choose life, authenticity.
I am a powerful, passionate, blessed, and beautiful, beloved daughter of God.
UD, I love you so much. And I miss you still. Forever, I carry you in my heart, and with all that you taught me, with God’s help, with trusting and believing in myself, with living my contract, and with the support of family and friends, I mend. We mend each other. Never the same, but new. A new tapestry woven from the past and present, the future up to us. As Ram Dass said, “We're all just walking each other home.”
With the memories and love of you written on our very cells, we merge our old lives and stories into something new that can move us forward into this future without you. While it wouldn’t be what we would choose if given the choice, it is what is, and so we press on.
Moored by the foundations laid by past generations, by all I learned from them, from you.
Moored by my faith and belief in God, by my God.
We remember the stories of old and carry them with us into the newness of our lives. Now, we have a new story to tell. One that leans on the foundation you helped set. Thank you, UD.
Goodbye, Uncle David. For now. Someday, when we meet again, I will tell you the rest of my story, and I will make you proud. Until then, I hold your love close, smile, and step forward into the future.
PS: With this post and the year of letters to you, I commemorate you and your influence on so many lives. We love you. xo