She looked me in the eye and bravely asked…

5/5/2012

I know it is difficult to stay in touch these days and I apologize, but I am down to the week before Finals and it takes all of my hours to work my job, commute and do homework till the wee hours of the night. Happily it will all be over by next weekend and then I shall be back to the normal life of simply working full time and writing part time. In between the moments of scholastic hysteria for myself, I took off one night to go and watch one of my siblings graduate late in life as well.

Inspired and proud it gave me hope that I too will eventually walk that long walk to the podium and accept academic accolades as well. Even though I live in Georgia, I promised myself I would go to my graduation at the University of Maryland to accept my degree in Investigative Forensics because I have worked hard to maintain my 4.0 throughout. Here’s the payoff…

Seeing as two of us work in Athens, we decided to car pool to the graduation. My older sister who kept constant communion with my parents during their time on earth has been rather lost in an emotional sea since their passing. I did as well, but I have one thing she no longer posesses…my hard earned faith that we are not alone and that my parents walk with me daily. Now you and I both know as you have read these blogs for almost the last 3 years that I have struggled with grief, marital distress, middle age, empty nest syndrome and personal consequence. Through it all I have been blessed to have R at my side and my parents and Charley just a reading away and they have strengthened my bond with the universe and provided me with the internal compass I had lost within the fog of my own grief. Spoiled? Yes- absolutely! But not without hard and grueling effort have these epiphanies been won. Once lost myself, I now wake to their photographic images and smile because I know they are a thought away.

My sister?

A daily struggle not to fight with God about the demise of those she loved. Thus, a long ride led to long and cathartic conversations as we, the few who remain, went to celebrate another’s achievements. In our travels she confessed her defeat…her despair and her loss of internal direction. When our mother died she became the companion for my father and based her entire retirement plan on being and taking care of him and enjoying the chance to travel with him right up until his final days. Unfortunately they came sooner than any of us planned. He died at the age of 82, approximately 10 years before her master plan could kick in. She, along with the other 9 children including myself, was devastated. Forget that the liklihood of my father traveling at 92 was feasible… she had a plan and was sticking to it! She said I had a plan A… I just never made a plan B. I told her it wouldn’t have mattered- she was not in control. She could have had an entire freaking alphabet of plans. None of them were my father’s or that of the architect of the universe’s. I empathized. I cajoled. I told her of the dark hours that I wandered through. I told her about Charley and that in an odd way his death saved my life.

I told her all the right things and then I told her the truth. My parents had not abandoned her- they had simply pulled the training wheels off her bike so that she could learn how to ride it alone. Tough love baby! For all her life she has lived their life and in their wisdom and eternal love, they now invite her to live her own.

The problem? She doesn’t know how.

Sometimes we can live so much for the people we love that we forget who we are apart from who we think we are collectively. Unlike those who think that martyrdom in love is divine, I say martyrdom in anything is debilitating. We were not created to live by osmosis. What a waste of the gift. Living your entire life for someone else leaves you with nothing but memories when they are gone. It is not healthy to do so. Each of us can give, but we must hold something of who we are back in the balance; lest we be left without identity and direction in the wake of their departure. This happens in death…divorce…and any other long term relationships we hold with people, places or things. We allow everyone and everything else to define ourselves and forget that in the void of emptiness and loss we will always stand alone. Without a firm grip on who we are- not what we do or what others think we are-but who we are at our deepest soul-we become adrift upon a sea of insecurities and indecision that paralyze us and keep us from moving forward. This is the abridged conversation we had, albeit filled with wonderful sentiment about both parents who had physically- but not spiritually, missed sharing our recent joy. In her depression over the lack of what she could not see or feel… I asked that she simply remain open and make the leap of faith that she believe that guidance was there- she just needed to figure out how to recognize it. I asked that she talk to our mother and father as if they were in the car with us at that very moment. I told her to tell them what she felt- that she needed to have a sign; some sort of tangible comfort that she might know the silver cord of love had not been broken.

With tearful resignation she told the air about us she loved them. She told my father she was lost without him and that she loved him and then she looked me in the eye and bravely asked him for a sign.

You have followed me long enough. You have read the blogs. You know that the connection is clear and strong and that even on my own they communicate in the most direct of fashions. I promised “they” would deliver.

Twenty seconds later a truck crossed over into the left lane in front of us and she slowed to accommodate the transition. Just as she did, a small white compact with a young pretty driver began to pass on the right and the car behind her- to pull closer. Just as she finished her plea I told her to believe. The car behind the little white compact closed the distance, eager to pass us as well and their headlights shown clear on the bumper of the debutante’s car before us.

The license tag read: LVU Dad

Ask.

Trust.

But most of all…believe! Go out and rent the movie, We Bought a Zoo.  

Be amazed at what 20 seconds of insane courage and a leap of faith can bring you!

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