09 October, 2011

Ten Years.

I don't know how to begin this post.
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.
and Endurance
I learned Ugliness.
and a deeply personal kind of Faith
I learned that Love Keeps Going
I learned Patience, Serenity and Courage.
and Gratitude...
...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


  1. Al,

    This is a beautiful post. I remember my conversations with your Dad in the parking lot of Kroger in Birmingham when I worked there. He was a very special man. Thinking of you and your mom today.

  2. This is a beautiful testament...he would be so proud of the woman you have become...as we all are...

    Ten years ago next month I came very close to losing Daniel after a horrific fall...after a long rehabilitation he regained everything and set us on the path that has brought us such happiness...the things we learn from reflecting back.

    Thank you for your insight beautiful girl...love you so much!

  3. Al-
    The love our family had for your Dad has now been transferred to you.

    We know he would be bursting with pride if he could see you now!

  4. Truly beautiful, gut wrenching and uplifting all at the same time xxx

  5. You're truly an inspiration and rare talent! I've been touched greatly by your words. Thank you so very much :)

  6. beautiful post Wish I could tell you more than 140char as some1 whose lost a parent I can relate Sending healing thoughts x

  7. @alexandrasilber - Ten Years (bit.ly/nqhDpr) is truly moving, inspiring, talented, inherently beautiful & human - that is, truly you.

  8. @alexandrasilber 's blog post has given me the confidence to meet my dad for first time - some people never get the chance ive been given

  9. Your blog makes me laugh and it makes me cry. One of my favourite online reads.

  10. Beautifully written post on @alexandrasilber s blog...beautiful in every way. Grief does make is stronger xX

  11. You are so brave and strong to share such thoughts. Very very moving.

  12. How lucky the world is, to have people like you...aye, how intrinsic your words and your wisdom. Looking through the eyes of eternity and far, far beyond...

  13. Jeremey CattertonNovember 17, 2011

    Love is eternal. And ephemeral. But, like the light from a star, when we see it, we see it as it was from that moment. And like a memory, it is what it was at that moment, and past and present do not alter that moment, for that was what it was when it was. But the now, is just as important. But no one, nothing, can alter what that love was. And since it is unalterable, that love still is.

  14. beautiful words. i attended a funeral today so odd that i should read this on the eve of such a horrific day, i could never express my feelings so eloquently as you but i feel everything you say and more.

  15. A truly lovely man who adored his daughter.

  16. i still miss him too. loved him eternally

  17. great memories of a top shelf man!!

  18. An important anniversary for our artistic community - whether we knew him or no. I know You, so it's vital.

  19. He was an amazing individual, and he would be incredibly proud of you.

  20. What a wonderful Dad he was!!! He loved you Alex!!! So sorry to loose him in our lives!



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