I took swimming lessons at the YWCA the summer that I completed the fourth grade, the summer that my sister died. Treading, from afar on the tiled deck, seemed almost relaxing. The counselor had on her swim cap, with the elastic strap and fastener held under her chin. She invited us in almost lazily with a large smile on her face. I couldn’t tell from my angle that her legs were moving furiously under the water. I was tested a couple of weeks later. I timed in for a full thirty seconds. Treading water was something that has always remained a challenge for me. I can float and swim both on my belly and on my back at a decent rate. Treading water seemed synonymous with how I walked on the earth back them. Everything seemed hard.
I haven’t written since January 20. Shortly after that date we’d received the call from the hospice nurse that my Dad was declining. By the 25th, she suggested that we call family for last good-byes. He was moving quickly into his transition. We sat with him for the next three days. We prayed. All of us. Family members wove in and out of the room. He knew us. He gave a little wave of his hand whenever we were in his vision. He crossed over on the twenty-eighth of January. I feel as though I’ve been treading water since then.
There’s usually a check list in my head at all times. It’s part of my monkey-brain. I jump from one thing to the next, making sure that everything is okay. The check list has changed from making sure my dad’s needs were met, to funeral arrangements, and business calls, to now. My check list has turned to re-checking. Was I there enough for him? Did I do the best for him? Was he comfortable? Mostly, was I fully present as his daughter? My head tells me yes. My heart has tricked me a couple of times into feeling I could have done more. My head reminds me that I did the best I could for the man, who at all the stops of life, did the best he could for me. We were a great team.
Last night I woke up thinking that a big part of my life is gone. Duh! Of course, it is. Yesterday, I had a short meditation and there he was walking toward me readying for a game of dominoes. This is a process, not an event. At some point, I’d placed a picture of The Never-Ending Story on my Facebook page. The quote is “Nothing is lost… everything is transformed.” I will see how that will manifest in my life. I feel him. I see him. Our love continues. He is with Mom, my sister, and his parents and siblings again. I’ve been blessed to have him all of these years.
I’ve the deep desire to go to the beach. I know that I can feel him there too. We spent many afternoons there during the last couple of years. It’s too cold to jump in the water. I won’t tread furiously. I think this time I will let the ocean’s energy wash over me in the cold breeze. I will allow the healing to be a gentle process. I will just be.