i've been chipping away at a sudden identity crisis all day long.
not because i am now a daughter whose father is no longer alive (although, it has occurred to me that this may be a contributing factor).
no, it's because i've realized i've fallen in love with this precious community that has evolved to follow me through my dad's unfolding life-death journey. each time i read one of your comments, a wave of appreciation comes over me, in a flush, this sense of gratitude at your voluntary presence. i'm not ready to write the final chapter.
but all of a sudden, the star of my story is gone. sure, i could yammer on about how much i miss him. but already today, not two full days after his passing, i feel strange in my own skin as i imagine myself in the act of the yammering. dad modeled for me in our countless military moves how to take the past in all its dubious glory and quickly bring it into the promise of the current opportunity. healthy adaptation is all about the skill and speed with which we bring the old into the new, dad taught me, never in a lecture but continuously through his example. He taught me how to keep the past simple, light-hearted; a constructive context from which to thrive in the here and now. and, happily: living fully in the present, for the most part, has kept my past from becoming unsightly, awkward baggage that bores the life out of even myself.
so now i experience an awkward shift. dad's life-death-life dilemma has now resolved itself in death. which is as it should be. and in terms of a storyline, as best as i can anticipate, there are only two additional "official" pieces yet to tell: (1) the experience of his funeral service, and (2) the outcome of his autopsy. then what?
i'll move on from this tenuous place of loss, for sure. and i'm okay with this. looking forward to it, actually. and, i'm even okay with not knowing just how and when this will occur. this indeed is the thrill of life, the unknown. but the daily living out of my grief? i'd be happy to share, if it benefits you, but i can assure you that these details of my life will not hold my heart captive like my dad has these past weeks and months. and if i am not enraptured, how can i expect you to be?
i know when to let a good thing go. but so quickly after losing my dad, it saddens me to think of saying goodbye to the safety and community you and i have created. but why keep meeting here? our story is without a plot, and no beloved protagonist, by the mere suggestion of his presence, is begging us to return. i'd love the privilege of building a long-term community; writing and relating have been lifelong interests of mine. but what would you want to read? how do we sustain the continual coming back for more? a blog without an active readership is, in the famous two-word phrase of brother daniel, a fail. better to craft beautiful journals by hand and leave them under the mattress for future generations to find.
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today as i meander through Borders (a favorite spot when i need to wander), i begin to formulate my sense of this sudden identity crisis. the long and short of it is this: when i began dad's blog, i only allowed myself the luxury of "immersion journalism" because i felt it was the only way to do justice to my dad's compelling story. in the words of wikipedia: to use personal experiences and emotions to provide context for the event being covered. to go gritty and deep. and besides, my dad's story was bursting from my soul. the immediacy of the plot, the depth of the supporting cast, the countless twists and turns. what other choice did i have? reducing dad's remarkable story to a list of medical facts wasn't going to help any of us process all that had just happened and was yet to come. but now, the immediate work has been done. what a privilege! what an experience. two nights ago, my dad's story reached its potent climax. i am fortunate to have captured it in outline form that night, and (thanks to a stranger named anne) through powerful imagery last night. a fan of suggestive endings, i know we've arrived. a pensive conclusion is in order. i realize this immediately...just about the time i realize, also, that i'm hooked. I'm hooked on the daily structure of my writing sessions, the therapeutic outlet, the love i feel from and for each of you.
sounds like a type of identity crisis to me, does it to you?
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in a book i find a nugget that gives me pause:
in this modern world, we have never been taught to experience authentic grief. we (and others) want our mourning to be tidy, polite, and over in a day or two so we can get on with our busy, outwardly focused lives. we are afraid of grief's primitive rawness that can completely overwhelm us with its own agenda. (A Beautiful Death, Cheryl Eckl, pp 255-56)
in a friend, i find a seed of hope:
i don't just come here for your dad's story. i come to hear your heart.
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i hope not to become that sad soul who gets stuck looping through those unattractive stages of grieving. i hope not to be that stoic daughter who avoids the sting of her new dad-less reality. and (most of all), i hope not to be that classic therapist who, in the absense of her story's hero, is afraid to let her friends and family see inside her heart.