Monday, September 12, 2011

A Time to Mourn

On September 11th, we found ourselves driving north to New Jersey to attend the funeral of our niece Alanna's mother. It's a fitting thing to do on a national day of mourning, and one of the odd silver linings of our visa delay is that we got one more chance to see members of the Davis family and mourn with them. As I typed this on the Garden State Parkway, John Lennon's song "Imagine" played on the radio and Paul Simon had just sung "The Sounds of Silence" at the World Trade Center in New York.

We stopped for a short break in Delaware, at the exact rest stop where a year ago, minus a few weeks, I found out that my boss Charlie had been fired from his job, and, in one moment I lost one of my pillars. I was rushing up to New York to see my mother who had had a devastating fall.

It’s been just a year, but a year in which I lost my father, quit my job, decided to move to China. I had no idea as I screamed into my cell phone in that sparkling new rest stop that the day was only the opening moment of a period that would test my resiliency. Losing my father meant I lost the feeling of having an ultimate safety net. But it also delivered some valuable lessons. It brought me closer to the rest of my family, especially my mother and my siblings, reminding us that a person could be snatched away in a moment.

One of the family members I've grown to know better in this last year is my Uncle Pat, who is fighting incurable brain cancer and who is using this period of his life to reflect on the joys he's experienced and to continue to live well, which in his case is very much a celebration of good food and wine. It's ironic that while my father was gone in an instant, my uncle has been given the gift of time, time to reflect, time to show love, time to connect.

The June before my dad died we threw him a surprise 80th birthday party. When people asked him over and over again how he felt, he had a simple answer, one that was as typical of him as the long valedictory is for my Uncle Pat.

Dad said he felt lucky. He was right.

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