My father left this earth 16 years ago. I was not cheated by a sudden death. I was born when he was 60 years old. He lived a good, long, and healthy life. Logically, I know this but emotionally his death destroyed me. The loss of a parent at any age though is devastating, especially when you rely on that parent’s guidance and quiet strength as much as I did. Unequivocally, when he died a piece of me died along with him. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, that I don’t seek advice from him, that I don’t wish that we could just sit together one more time.
Coming to terms with loss and what it means to live the rest of my life without him was a struggle. What I’ve come to see is that he is not 3000 miles away and 6 feet under. He is here with me. He is in my heart and in my child’s laughter. He is in my eyes and in my strength. He is within but he is also so ingrained in these Blue Ridge Mountains. This place he never found in life, he is rooted in the afterlife. I find him in a blue jay outside my window. I feel his warmth in the pine scented mountain air. On hikes along the Parkway trails, in the stillness of the roaring sounds of the waterfalls. He is deer and bear sightings. He is sitting by the river watching people fish. He is the heartbeat of the drum circle. He is the acorns and seedlings beginning life anew. He’s always here, he never left me. Where I am, he still is, always.
Father’s Day I will spend on the trails with my dog and with my father. I will sit with him in the sunshine and feel his warmth, I will listen to his words of wisdom in the rustling of the trees, and I will remind myself how fortunate I am to have such an amazing father.