My beloved father died in June 2010.
The week before his death was an extraordinary gathering of family and friends at his hospital bed, where we cried and laughed and reminisced.
I watched my endlessly kind Dad as he ministered to friends – those who came to visit, and stood rooted by shock in the doorway, appalled by how close to death he was.
It came too soon for all of us.
I watched him weep with laughter along with the rest of us, as my brother finally confessed to a secret piece of mischief from his teen years, and how it had spectacularly backfired.
I watched him receiving visitors whom we couldn’t see, who seemed to bless his journey with grace – his mother, his senior medical partner from four decades previously, and others.
And I started writing a poem for him.
It arose out of a conversation we had about death and joy.
I couldn’t finish it then, though I tried, because the end of the story hadn’t yet happened.
But in the days between his death and his funeral, the poem finished itself.
Beyond these final days, I said to you,
I know there will be joy for each of us;
though you may find it sooner than I do.
And so, I said to you,
I’ll do my best to choose joy now;
though I reserve the right to weep.
You smiled, and nodded certainty,
then said goodnight and slipped away,
your rumpled flesh like party clothes
discarded on the bed.
And now I feel you dancing.
No decorous foxtrot for you,
but rather heel-kicking jive and twist,
whirling, exuberant, in the music of the stars.
My blood hears the echo of that beat
and my heart lifts high and wide,
beyond the tears.
If such a thing as time existed where you are
you’d fill each glorious second
with undoubting bliss.
I will catch up soon.
You have become joy;
how could I be less?
In a surprisingly short time, I did catch up.
Joy is now my choice, though of course there are days when anger or grief or frustration appear; and even days where depression sweeps me into its shadowy arms.
But I honour those moments when they emerge, let them flow, and then return to that dancing joy which is my birthright.
I love you.