Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

Tag: loss

Life Like A River We’re Better At Paddling Together

Initially published as a column in the Armchair Mayor News on August 29, 2014. 

Two days ago I wrote an obituary; my father’s. It’s never an easy thing, even when you know that people wanted to move on because suffering was taking too much out of them.

The hard part is seeing the world reshaping itself after they are in it no more. It’s a feeling we learn to fear, and we forget that the rhythm of life could not be a harmonious one unless we acknowledge death is part of it.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of emotions, ups and down of awakenings, staring reality in the face, knowing that it is the only way to do it right.

Through this and many other rollercoaster jolts life had in store lately, clouds crowding a sky I wanted blue and serene thinking it is mine to decide, I was reminded of the one thing that matters the most: I am not alone. No one really is.

My family has been guarding my well-being with love and patience, keeping guard from winds that would’ve kept me down for too long. Close friends made their presence known and felt, ever so gently, ever so unconditionally bringing themselves into our lives, knowing that when we make room for joy, sorrowful as it was at times, the rough seas will let me see the silver lining. They did.

I went through piles of photos, I dug out my dad’s memories, us four, mom, dad, my sister and I, and through telling stories to my soon-to-be husband and sons, and to our friends, I relived a childhood that was magically beautiful and fully belonging to me.

I’ve been sailing many waters since, walking through sunsets that had me tear up or jump high with the expectations of tomorrow. You soar high one day, and then you tumble and dust off your knees the next.

My dad’s passing, preceded by my mother’s eight years ago, reminded me of the journey they hoped and wished for me when they brought me into the world. It reminded me of how my sons came, started their own and of the flurry of hope I padded their wings with and keep on doing so every day.

My dad’s passing was a sad reminder of how nothing is permanent, and that only makes every day worth more than we are often able to realize and it also reminded me that we are not alone. The most cynical of us will say that we come alone and we leave alone, and that has truth to it. Life is a singular affair by default, at the entry and exit points. But the in between does not need to be.

I have friends holding my heart through this, and I have the kind of family I wish upon everyone. They are present because I let them, because I no longer hold the secrets of life to myself and by doing that I open up doors that all of us know the contour of too well.

There is a wealth of goodness in people around. They open up arms and hearts and through hiccups of discovering who’s in for the long haul and who is not – a necessary part of it all, we learn that being alive is something we never do alone, and it should not be. We all have stories we carry around, we all need to share them because when we do, we give permission to others to share theirs and we find that though details may differ, we build life towers with the same building blocks, we see the same sunsets and sunrises, we love and let go, and through it all, we keep on going no matter what because going while someone is there to share the journey makes it all better.

Losing people we love dearly hurts, it always does and the pain may grow dull but it will never go away. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel, when you think it all unfair, but through the thick of it all, the silver lining makes itself seen brighter than expected: it is all worth it, every moment of it.

A Sad Day

I am tucked away in a coffee shop on Lansdowne Street with a cup full of coffee and a severe lack of inspiration… It is a sad day.

An earlier hot bath and a short-lived chocolate binge could not bring up the endorphine levels… some days are too glum for that. Some news are too.

The Kamloops Daily News will roll out its last pages on Saturday; it was announced today. Economic crunches and such forced a sudden closure. Sudden is tough. Sudden is good someone said, because at least you know what you’re dealing with, no prolonged agony. Sudden is sudden.

An unexpectedly powerful feeling of emptiness sits inside of me like a big mean shadow.

For losing a connection, for something being ripped away from the community I came to belong to and for the unfairness of it all.

The paper was not perfect but it had good people that made it happen, and bubbles of goodwill peppered all over it. It had a heart.

I have come to be connected to the paper as if it were a friend. I did so in a little bit more than a year. Some people have been there for way more. Their sadness surpasses mine by miles.

The owner of the coffee shop comes by. We talk about the paper, the loss of a familiar thing. A sign of the times, he says. True. We talk about the stories that will keep happening, pieces of life that will be lost without the net called Daily News to catch them just like one catches rain water…Fresh.

He says come by and write here, this place will continue to be. I will. A continuation… A good thing.

I trace back the story of my building the short history with the paper. A first interview with my heart pounding – I was after all, just a stranger, recently landed in a city where people seemed to have tight connections, with each other and with the place itself – landed me a job as the new columnist.

I was both excited and apprehensive. I learned a lot, through having my pieces edited, ever so slightly, but what an eye-opening experience every time. I learned to keep being myself but structure thoughts and build nice stories for people to read at a pace that was melodious enough to make them send personal notes my way. Gifts.

I evolved as a columnist through the feedback from readers, some of whom maintain regular correspondence to this day.

I have, as expected, become attached to something that was part of home. The undeniable connection was fuzzy warm and comfortable to have.

I came to love deadlines and the rush of changing a topic swiftly before sending it, simply because I felt like I should deliver something worthy of reading and thinking about.

I loved my dialogue with people, I loved the challenge of a new topic, the funny feeling of starting to know readers’ personalities simply by knowing their screen names.

A couple of times I tilted my head while reading the comments but I have since learned to recognize familiar voices of people I will never meet face to face, but people who read my words and through that became part of my world as they allowed me to be part of theirs.

A trade of thoughts and openness, wrapped up in an unmistakable feeling of belonging to the same place, and seeing the same sunsets drape over the same cinnamon-hued mountains.

I will miss the paper. An unlikely friend I’ve become so attached to…
But I don’t like farewells. I’ve had one too many to deal with.

I will keep my KDN folder as I will all the Saturday editions. I’ll learn just from looking back at how far I’ve come since that day when I walked into the editor’s office, heart pounding and acting very grown-up but wondering afterwards if I spoke too fast or too unclear…

Thank you, KDN.

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