“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T.S. Eliott.
I love this quote as it reminds me that we are constantly seeking the truth yet when we feel we have the answers we start all over again from the beginning. This coming December on 30th it will be 6 years since my wonderful father passed away. 6 years which is only 72 months seems a long time, almost eternity yet it feels only yesterday, he and I were sat at the dining table having tea together. My life was on a linear path until then before it was disrupted big style. The world goes on regardless but for those of us who have lost someone we love the most it’s as though we go from grinding to a ‘complete’ halt to eventually learning to adjust to what is. I live with a massive hole in my being and it is still the same size. A void. Knowing that I will never hear him say “I am proud of you” but knowing also that he is.
As I write this I do so from a retreat I visited a year before my father passed for some respite. The year after he passed I came back again to make sense of my aching heart. I recall sitting on a bench by the river and pouring my heart out to a stranger who was kind enough to listen. The bench is surrounded by some very mature trees where you can see the roots all spread out. I remember also then hugging a tree. In search of answers as to what my relationship now was with my late father I met with some spiritual leaders, one of whom told me that my father on his death disconnected all his connections with me. Of course that just wasn’t what I wanted to hear plus it gave me no comfort at all. Then I met another who simply said when you feel you are at sea with your emotions just sit in front of your father’s picture, look into his eyes and sit in silence, you will in time learn to keep going. That was a palatable gem of an advice which I did follow. Today, I sat on that same bench with mix feelings of calmness and numbness as I reflected on my journey. I touched the same tree (I didn’t hug it) hoping that it would take me a little closer to the same feeling I used to get when I touched my father’s hands. This tree is old, tall and solid. It stands majestically still. I thought may be this is as close as it gets to being physically closer to my Dad. Perhaps it is and perhaps that’s as good as it gets until one day I hope I am with him where once again my Dad and I will sit down at the dining table and enjoy a cup of tea and chat.
Coming here is pilgrimage of sort. I met some people here who have seen me on and off during the last 7 years. They won’t know but they too played a part in my healing. When I travel to work I see this sign in neon lights “EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED”. I also see the words on a wall “Don’t break your tender heart” but I’d rather say ” TAKE CARE OF YOUR TENDER HEART”. I do believe everything is connected with precision and the right people come into our lives just at the right time to help us. This makes sense when we look back and see how far we have travelled and how we have been helped in the most unexpected ways. Even my coming here just before the 6th anniversary is for a reason as it is a vital reminder that I am still climbing my Mt. Everest. May be I am at base camp but that’s fine too I know I will make it to the summit one day and when I do I will see my father’s smiling face and loving eyes. He will tell me again how proud he is of me. Sometimes, I think when God gave us a father he did so to remind us of what God is like, kind, loving and generous to a fault. There is no substitute to the unconditional love of a father.
If I were to offer some hope to another on a similar journey it is this. This is your earthquake. Hit the emergency brakes and go slow. It is painful and you have a right to be in survival mode. Slowly but surely you will find a way to keep going and you will. If I can make it to this point so can you.
Be kind to you.
20th November 2019