My life change that I alluded to in my last life letter is that two weeks ago, my father passed away. He experienced a heart attack a week prior to him finally transitioning, and his passing has brought some awareness and moments of clarity. Although very sudden, this life event is getting me to appreciate my life more, and recognize that every breath I take is a gift. I am not taking things for granted and appreciating each moment. I am letting loved ones or people who truly matter to me know how much they are appreciated in my life. Why does it take some major life crisis to invoke a greater appreciation for our lives? Lastly, I am taking time to determine how I want to live my life and choose what I want, and don’t want, in my life. My dad always felt he lived on borrowed time since age 24, and he didn’t miss much and got to live until a youthful 72.
My father was like a cat with nine lives. He survived a blood clot in his head at 24 years old, falling off a scaffold at Pali Momi over 15 years ago, falling off a two-foot story building, electrocution, falling down a face of a cliff trying to pick mountain apples, a heart attack three years ago, a stroke two years ago, and his most recent heart attack. For all intents and purposes my dad should not have been around as long as we had him. With joking aside, it was his ability to choose to live his life and embrace each moment that allowed him to have all those second chances.
I have come to the realization the one thing we all need to accept, is that life will constantly change. Sometimes the changes are deemed good and at other times downright horrible, and the worst ever. Three and a half weeks ago, my father was brought home from the nursing home after spending nearly two years rehabbing and getting some strength and movement back into the left side of his body after enduring a hemorrhagic stroke two years prior. Once a very active man, he was faced with one of his greatest challenges – to reconnect his mind to the left side of his body, and one day, be able to function normally, and to walk. My father’s progress to a full recovery and ability to move his left arm and leg, and control the left side of his body was slow but steady. He was making some positive strides and so both he and my mother decided it was time to go back home. His return home however, is where my life-changing story begins.
Unexpectedly four days after returning home, my dad had a heart attack early in the morning. His caretaker discovered him unresponsive and not breathing, called 911 and began to administer CPR. After three days in intensive care, my dad remained unresponsive to pain or vocal stimuli. Hence the difficult decision that lay before my family and myself. My dad’s wishes and health directive stipulated that if in any event my father needed life support to survive, he didn’t want to be preserved or live that way. Although his decision was clear, still having to make the choice to allow a loved one to pass is far from easy. However, it was a unanimous decision among my mother, auntie, brother, and myself to honor his wishes and not prolong his life. On Tuesday after saying our good byes with many tears, my father passed quietly (actually he was snoring until the end) and he transitioned.
My choice to share the passing of my father, is due to the fact that many of you may have experienced a loss or know of friends or family that have lost a loved one. Although I miss my father dearly, what brings solace and ease, is knowing that my father’s traits and energies that I miss the most, surround me always. The physical form of our departed loved one is gone, but I fully believe their energy and essence is conserved and is present in our lives. We just need to take time and look for it. One of the traits I miss about my dad, was that when I really needed him he would make an effort to be there and guess what? I have experienced many friends, family members, and practice members come forth to tell me, and reassure me, that if I needed any help, to please call. So instead of getting aid from one person, my dad, I have numerous caring individuals who I can ask.
Another experience, is that being around my father was always comforting, almost like a zen-like quality of peace. Lately, friends and practice members have been mentioning out loud that it’s very comforting and reassuring to be around me – coincidence? My point is that by identifying what you miss about your loved one, although we miss their physical form look for their essence inside yourself or whether it’s showing in others around you.
In closing, one saying that my father would always tell me is, “Life is too short to stay angry.” Why he decided to repeat this to me many times, is beyond me. (hah, hah). However, as I have grown up, I see how much wisdom is in that one sentence. Life can be brief and with each passing year, time seems to fly by. Also life is a choice and how you choose to perceive and experience your life is up to each and every one of you. There is nothing wrong with staying angry, or sad or worried, but ask yourself, “how does it serve me to stay in these charged, emotional states?” Once you can honestly answer that question, then you can determine whether or not you want to keep perpetuating staying angry, worried, or sad.
Thank you “pop” for being my dad, and wish you all the best in your next adventure. Til we meet again, know that I love and miss you always.