Those of you who have been following this blog probably know that it was inspired by my desire to shake my depression in the wake of my father’s sudden death. Initially I wanted to write about something that made me feel grateful each day.
It has evolved into more of a daily journal, although it often is imbued with the emotions of grief and gratitude.
Grief and gratitude – an interesting combo…
Grief is defined as deep sorrow.
Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation
By definition they are world’s apart…and yet, the more I go through the grieving process, the more I realize how intricately woven they actually are.
The day after dad died, Ryan, my mother and I sat in my parents’ living room with the Reverend. She asked us to share some thoughts about dad. After listening to us for a few minutes she said to my brother and I, “You obviously had a wonderful relationship with your father. You know, as much as that makes this so hard, it may actually be easier for you to let him go, than for someone who had a broken or nonexistent relationship with their father.”
“How come you are so ungrateful?” she may as well have said. (She didn’t say that, of course, but that’s what I heard).
We were lucky enough to have had a wonderful father.
We were lucky we had no regrets about our relationship when he died.
We were lucky we didn’t have any unresolved conflicts.
We were lucky.
I can’t tell you how far from lucky I felt in that moment. Her words brought me no solace at the time. In fact, they made me a little angry.
How dare she tell us that what we got was more than most? Her words, well intended as they were, made me feel like a petulant and greedy child…to have had all this abundance and still want for more….so much more.
I ached for more with every cell of my being.
In time I was able to appreciate her words. It was because we had so much gratitude for our father that we felt so wrecked by his death, but it was also the abundance of gratitude for him that would save us. It would make it bearable, ever so slightly.
Our heavy grief was (and is) because of our preponderance of gratitude.
He left us so much for which to be grateful…
Not only the warm memories, but in the many parts of him which influence our very being. Our father was funny, kind and generous, smart and quick-witted. He was quietly confident yet incredibly humble. He was extremely level-headed, and of admirable moral character. He was affectionate and friendly; warm. He was forgetful, day-dreamy, and sometimes wouldn’t have noticed if there were a wolverine in the room (not if he were doing a crossword puzzle, anyway). He was also an avid singer and dancer, both of debatable skill and undeniable enthusiasm. He was a hilariously insufferable card game opponent. He loved his family to pieces.
I see so many of these traits – these gifts from dad – in my brothers and I, and even in our children. Some make me proud, some make me laugh – but they all make me think of him…and I feel grateful in my grief, because…
We were lucky to have him for a father.
We were lucky to have him for as long as we did.
We were lucky.