My Dad passed away this week. Even though I knew it was looming, I didn’t know it would come so soon. I was hoping I’d have more time to get acquainted with the idea of death and what it means for those of us left behind.
Now I am beginning to understand just how naive my existence was before I was forced to confront death’s discourteous blow.
While I hope you never have to experience such a life-altering loss, the truth is, we all will. Death is a part of life. And once it strikes someone you so dearly love, your existence will never be the same.
I know the pain of losing my Dad will perhaps never leave me. I imagine it will ease with time as I process and get through it, but I don’t suspect I will get over it. How can I? How can you get over a person who has been there since before you were even aware of yourself?
His life, his influence, his energy is inextricably linked to mine and I now take comfort in that. I take comfort in knowing that my Dad is no longer in pain. That suffering is no longer something he has to endure. My Dad, Vincent, will forever be in my heart until the day it stops beating. And I am grateful that I am becoming a more fully realized human being, a more caring, compassionate, and empathetic person because of my Dad. Still, I would forfeit any wisdom for the sake of having him back.
♥ ♥ ♥
What is the measure of a man? Is it the amount of money he has? The possessions he owns and the power he holds? Is it the professional success he’s achieved over the years?
I don’t believe it is any of these things. The true measure of a man is how much love he gives; how selflessly he shares whatever he can to help others; how consistently he lifts up those around him with a kind word, a funny joke, a compliment, a humble ear or the very shoes off his feet.
By this measure, my Dad was immeasurable.
I lost my Dad. But only in body, not in spirit. This is by far the most painful and heart-ripping and life-altering experience I’ve endured.
But I do my best to remain grateful and comforted knowing how much my beloved Dad positively affected the lives of others.
He was the most sincerely altruistic person I have ever known with no attachment to material things — he would literally give you the clothes he was wearing. All you had to do was mention you liked something and he would immediately insist on giving it to you. This became abundantly clear when, one day at the hospital, soon before my Dad passed away, I was talking to his brother Danny who was wearing my Dad’s tennis shoes. Why was he wearing my Dad’s sneakers? Because my Dad had given them to him when Danny had mentioned that he liked them.
How many times did I have to tell my Dad, ‘No, I don’t need anything, Dad, I’m good. Keep it for yourself.’
My Dad loved to dance and loved to make people laugh. All he ever wanted to do was make other people feel comfortable and make sure they were not feeling left out. I know it’s because he knew what it was like to feel left out. He grew up poor and had to borrow clothes from the school’s lost and found. He was teased. And as he got older, he always rooted for the underdog, because he knew what it felt like to be that person.
My dad just turned 61 on Valentine’s Day. And it is so apropos that he was born on that day because he was the embodiment of love. A heart of gold is what every family member and friend has said about my Dad. And it’s incredible to see just how boundless his reach has been.
My Dad left an impact on every person he met, even strangers (who didn’t stay strangers very long because he was just so damn friendly). The love my Dad spread on this Earth continues to grow and will live on, and that is the ultimate measure of any human being.
I love you, Dad. Now and forevermore.
Has your dad passed away? How have you been dealing with it? Do you have anything you’d like to share that could help others?
FEBRUARY 2020 UPDATE: I recently wrote a post about how I’m feeling two years after my Dad passed away.
Here’s a collection of some poems that might help you with grieving and loss.
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