Three years ago I still remember. The air smelled of coffee that lingered too long, sandalwood, and of a vanilla Glade plug in. When I walked into my old room, my father laid in a hospital bed in the place where I spent most of my childhood. Within two seconds, my husband checked my father’s pulse and told me in three words, “He has passed.” I didn’t believe him. Screaming inside, my mind insisted that my father was still alive. That it wasn’t time yet. The words I didn’t get to say goodbye throbbing in my head. The sadness of that moment enveloped me so much, I was not even aware that my three year old daughter was witnessing my unfiltered pain. It’s a startling pain, one that persists, one that tells you won’t ever be the same again. The grandeur of that sadness doesn’t go away; it just becomes muted as time pushes you to excavate other experiences.
These last two days, I’ve spent time near the ocean. The vastness of the blue, I’ve found, is somewhere I can sink that sadness. I’ve watched my daughter scavenge for sea shells, make sand castles, and enjoy the way the sand moves in-between her toes. She reminds me that there is life. And through her I am able to fully realize that, yes, you can move forward from immense sadness. The rhythm seems right near the water, the back and forth motion of the waves calms any lingering melancholy. As the warm sun hits my face, I understand the grandeur of happiness that I’ve experienced in the last few days. Walking through a meditation garden, sitting on a towel on the beach, and breathing the salty and crisp air near the ocean.
The swing between the grandeur of sadness and happiness is both startling and stunning. When you are immersed in the depths of losing a loved one, you cannot conceptualize that you will ever move on. The sadness of it is too vast. But over the last three years, I’ve really learned that you can. This week my mind drifted toward happier memories that I shared with my father. And as I honored each memory, I decided to eat some of my father’s favorite foods – German chocolate cake, Thai food, masala covered cashews, and potato salad. I also repeated some of his catch phrases that he liked to integrate into his conversations. He often used the words, “round-a-bout, we will see, you listen to me, and something like that.” Remembering some of his quirks, made me chuckle to myself, look up, and smile.
It felt right stepping away from the sadness into the grandeur of happiness.