The world became a much scarier place on September 12, 2006. Yes, that’s correct, not September 11, 2001, but September 12, 2006. While I acknowledge the horror of 9/11, for me, the day my father died was the day the world became a little closer and lot more disturbing.
My father stood fast to his role as the protector and defender of his family. As a child and growing up I always knew, on a subconscious level, that he was there to protect me from the world and from myself. Very often I did not recognize that and I ignored his protection going merrily on my way causing hurt to others as well as myself. He was there though to help me pick myself up, in his no nonsense way, and set me on my path again. He was there, providing a comforting sense of security my whole life. Then, suddenly, on that day, it was gone.
I’ve wandered the past two year, going through the motions of getting on with life without him, not quite understanding the terrible loss I feel on a daily basis. Since that day, the world shifted a little sideways and it has been off balance, like a movie that is playing just one frame off the story since. I don’t know that the world will ever be right again. The poles have shifted and a whole new, scary world is there in place of where I lived.
For many months I was envious of my brother who says he felt dad when he died, and of my brother who found dad in a message in the storm clouds. Why had he left no message, no sign for me? I was as spiritual as either of them, why should I be left alone, afraid and uncomforted. The father I know would not do that. He would leave me something and my loss that I could not see it, or find it in the sky or the earth or the wind has plagued me. I blamed myself and my belief system, envious of those with a religious bent who could find comfort knowing they would be reunited with loved ones some day, but I could not convert just to find solace. That would be unprincipled, and my father taught me principles of self.
I look for him in the birds, the murder of crows at the roadside in the mountain. I listen for him in the wind in the pines high on a mountain pass. I long to hear him remind me to have my car ready for winter with the appropriate survival gear and I realize now, what that was. It was my protection and security. He was watching out for me.
In my recent journey I traveled the mountain passes in a mild winter. As I ascended a particularly steep and dangerous pass I found road crews had closed the road and we were rerouted back to the low road, longer but safer. As I continued on my journey and night fell and I found myself alone, in the dark, in an isolated area of the mountain, tired and with increasing anxiety about the drive ahead of me. Did I have any survival supplies to keep me alive should I go off the road and be unseen by passing traffic? Did anyone know where I was? Did the cell phone even work out here? I realized that I must stop for the night and recover my energy and my stamina to get home alive.
Obviously I made it home, but the trip was an epiphany of sorts. I realized what I lost on September 12, 2006. I also realized that while dad did not brush by me on his way out, or stir up the clouds to show me his presence, that he will always be there to protect me from myself and the world through the things he taught me and the advice he has given me. If not for the road crews on that mountain pass I would have gone on and tried to get through. If not for dad’s yearly reminders to be ready for bad weather, and to stop when you are tired, I would have gone on. I realize the world without a father is a very frightening place, but maybe in this new off kilter world without him, I need to look through a different lens to find him. He is there in all he taught me and showed me with his protection and security and in what I learned about being independent and self-sufficient in a scary world. He is there in the value of family and support and protection of my own children. And I think, knowing my dad, that was what he wanted.
I miss you dad.