I wasn't even sure if I should write this post.
Sometimes in life we entertain, other times we share, inform, revel, reflect. And rarely, we risk revealing a crack in the door enclosing the "other things." The things that cannot always be seen, or held in your hand and observed in words. The unutterables. The deeply felt.
The loss of my father has been the defining mythology of my entire adult life.
I wanted to mark this moment.
Readers: today is the ten year anniversary of the death of my father, Michael Silber.
Mike to some.
Mikey to others.
Papa to me.
Sometimes my inner ocean still swells about it.
I think about those moments that I connect with him in the present as an adult.
I think about his charisma, his star power, his blinding intellect and vision.
I think about all of the things he loved about me and vice versa,
all the things he wanted for me, fought for, in many ways literally gave his life for.
I think about him.
Grief is a place, a land we all shall visit, a familiar yet foreign land. You sit at the tables in the town square and without warning the skyline transforms before you, the seats below you shift, the beverage you are drinking morphs into another. One can never feel at ease there, only become more acclimatized to the nature of the ever-changing place, learn the rules, the language, the customs--to embrace the cold and strange, but be at peace with it. Because you must: in the Land of Grief it is not only the cushions that alter, you alter too. And often, you don't always notice when you do.
But sometimes there is nothing you can do about pure, unadulterated, weighted, roaring sorrow...
We may, we have the choice, and frankly we have every right to curl up and die.
I would not blame those that do.
All I know is something within me refused to.
Something within me would not allow it.
I chose to live.
To really live.
Were there days when all I desired was to merely wake up and breathe, to just allow my heart to beat, not truly caring whether it continued? Yes.
But I did not chose to live because there didn't seem to be another choice,
not because it is what my Dad would have wanted,
I lived because I wanted to.
Ultimately, I found a place deeper than that; an invisible but palpable place with ground as sturdy and immovable and as glittering as diamonds-- to lift up. To surface, and eat at the banquet of the living, even when that meant doing so bite by painstaking bite.
I look back at the child I was, the gifted, old soul, yes; but mostly the inexperienced child facing so much, so many grown up troubles on top of the already heavy decisions and changes associated with that time in everyone's life.
She was cut off at the knees (for no matter how much we think we know when we are 17-18, we are not done being raised. Are we ever?)
I look back at her as if she were someone else and I want to hug her and tell her it will be alright.
Tell her that she is stronger than she knows.
That even though she has no reason to believe that she will ever be happy again, that she will.
Tell her that because she will survive this, she never has to be afraid again.
I would not judge her now as I judged myself then.
I would not tell her (because she would scarcely have believed me) that she will soar to the top of every one of her dreams.
I learned in Scotland that sometimes we must "act as if."
I learned in London that life does get better. That it ebbs and flows.
I learned from the people that loved me before, and the people I met along the way, that love is infinite.
I learned from Fiddler on the Roof, that when you utter "Papa, God alone knows when we'll see each other again..." every day, that the only choice is to believe the response "Then we shall leave it in His hands..."
I learned from Carousel to understand the nature of what my mother lost-- what it really means to not merely lose someone, but to lose the only one.
I learned Fear.
I learned Shame. And Regret.
I learned Ugliness.
and a deeply personal kind of Faith.
I learned that Love Keeps Going.
I learned Patience, Serenity and Courage.
...for it is only in the depths of Grief that we truly learn to value Life.
I have had the greatest adventures anyone could ever hope for. I pinch myself almost every day asking myself "is this real life?" does one person truly get to experience every kind of dream? The people I have met, the places I've been, the quantity and quality of every experience, every opportunity, every travel, conversation, job, every glorious triumph, every accomplishment and celebration and happiness...
I would trade it all for only. one. thing.
...But that is not how it works.
We cannot make such trades, and so, we must accept with all our hearts what is, what we cannot change, and do as much as we can with the circumstances we've been handed. Do not wish or pray away the pain, ask for the strength to endure it so that we may use it for further understanding, to view each trial as an opportunity for blessing. Before we can rebuild our life, we must come to know the peace that accompanies acceptance, for out of peace arises the willingness and the wisdom to greet each day with the freedom of an open, loving, trusting, and resilient heart.
It has been said that wisdom is a map upon which to follow the journey of the spirit.
Wisdom is precious.
And wisdom is earned.
Thank you Papa.
Thank you Grief.
A decade on, I feel stronger, and more grateful than ever.
"She was no longer wrestling with the grief,
but could sit down with it as a lasting companion
and make it a sharer in her thoughts."- George Eliot