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Death’s Door to Love

It has been 1 full year since my dad died.  I never imagined that I could gain so much through a loss like this.

When my dad was alive, we had issues.  Our history was thick and the impact on my psyche profound. All of this painted a murky picture of our relationship.  Full of uncertainty, I knew for certain, that any interaction with him was ripe for disagreement or disappointment.

So when I would gear myself up for an obligatory visit with him, I would put up my shield, protection from judgment, pessimism, misunderstanding, and drama.  I learned to keep our interactions to a minimum, superficial, cordial, a simple, “How’s the weather?”  This prevented me from being told I’m too fat, too skinny, too spendy, too busy. It kept me safe, well most of the time. There was always that occasionally unexpected remark that would bring back old stories and hurt, and the possibility of that kept me on guard, ready for fight or flight. I certainly thought of him as someone with lots of flaws, full of ways I didn’t value or want around me.

The day he died this all changed.  Unexpectedly, the negative attributes faded away. I almost have a hard time recalling those attributes now as a full year of absence has softened them to a mere shadow.  A lightness replaced the weight.  He was no longer this man covered in labels that I had plastered on him.  He was just a human, just a spirit.  It became clear those personality characteristics didn’t define him.  Those characteristics (judgmental, self-centered, tactless to name a few) were just him acting out his stories.  Stories about how he has been wronged, not appreciated, not loved.

I remember being in a meditation after a yoga class.  It was within a week after he had passed on.  I had dedicated my practice to him that day, hoping the next step of his journey was that of ease and freedom.  Right then he came to me, sitting in front of me in my mind’s eye.  He was still and calm. He was smiling, no actually it was more like beaming.  I could feel the energy emanating from him and recognized it as pure love. He was as light as a feather, free of the burden of his “stuff.”  At that point I could see for the first time that he really was just light.

Now when I think of him, there is only love.  When I think of the struggle he went through, I feel only compassion.  When I wonder if he is now at peace, I’m sure he is.  When I see a vision of him, he is full of light and absent of stories.  He has not only shed his shell of a body, but he has shed the shell of his personality, his story, his ego.  It is obvious that he is now pure.  All that’s left is what has always been the real him beneath it all, light and love.

This reality is pure truth to me.  I saw it, I felt it.  As I sit with this reality that my father is really just pure light and not defined by his characteristics, I wonder how this perspective shapes how I move forward in the living world.

When someone is acting judgmentally, I can more easily see right through it, knowing that that’s not them, but just their stuff.  When I see another, regardless of what they look like, act like, or seem like, I realize now, they are just light and love. It may just be a bit dimmed because of their shell.  I now find it much easier to be at ease with others, to love others more unconditionally, to take negative experiences much more lightly.

I’m sure he now realizes that our time together was not just discomfort, but a gift.