I realized a week ago that it had been eighteen years since my father passed away. Or, more accurately, chose to pass away.
Reflecting on the experience, I realize I’ve never held his decision to take his life against him. For a few years, I wished he’d explained why. I also wished for guidance during a challenging period in my final year of college. But, there was still no negativity involved – it was his life to take after all.
And, while I might have been disappointed for a while, that experience has undeniably made me a better human being. I accumulated significant scar tissue on taking responsibility, expressing gratitude, love, and care and on not taking this life for granted.
Such scar tissue changes who you are and how you operate. It certainly did for me.
Eighteen years on, my memories of my father are few and far between. I’ve spent significantly more time at a more formative stage without him. So, that’s understandable.
I also chose to not dwell on some of the negative memories leading up to his eventual passing. Instead, the one thing I’ve chosen to remember was his insistence on owning good things. We didn’t have many things at home. But, the things we owned were good. He took a lot of pride in investing in a few, quality, things and experiences. I am very similar in that regard and grateful for that lesson.
There are more lessons I’ve taken away from that experience – perhaps I’ll get to those in next year’s note.
Reflecting on this reminds me of how little control we have on what happens to us. As a family, the aftermath of this event was devastating given it came out of the blue.
But, it also reminds me that we have more control than we think in shaping our future (with help from Lady luck) with the nature of our response.
For those of you who’ve gone through an unexpected bereavement, I hope you’ll take away the fact that, with time, love, and care… it gets better.