Life well lived fuels others | Faithful Living
By JOAN BAY KLOPE
Whidbey News Times Columnist
August 3, 2012 · Updated 1:31 PM
It has been almost six years since my dad passed away from metastasized pancreatic cancer. That fact does not weigh heavily on me as a daughter or us as a family everyday. In fact, there are short stretches of time when life captures our attention to such a degree that we no longer mentally insert him into our present story. Life engages us and we press forward. We remain active in the here and now.
Most of the time, when Dad comes to mind, we consider what he might say about our present circumstances or ways we believe he would help were he here. We enjoy a laugh about the things he did and said because he was earnest and engaged, smart and generous and delightfully quirky.
There are occasional moments when the longing we have for him and the brutal fact that he is no longer here roll over us like a wave of cold water. This happens to me most often when I observe the people in my life thriving. As I watch them, feeling pride and wonder, I must also accept the fact that he is not beside me, watching with equal amazement and expressing it to me. Today I accept the fact that joy is never untouched by sorrow. They blend. So I smile and refuse to feel embarrassed by my happy tears. I embrace the swell of joy and remind myself to keep breathing.
That intense mixture subsides in a few moments, especially when I ask God to draw near. To carry some of the burden loss heaps on me. Then I thank God for the faith that Dad no longer bears the worries of this world and thrives in heaven beyond.
I am able to respond in these ways for three important reasons. First, I mourned effectively when he died. To do so is arduous and profound. It requires you to face an onslaught of raw and painful emotions, while demanding that you make changes in your everyday life because your loved one is no longer present.
Second, I said everything I hoped to say to my dad. While some of those conversations were terribly difficult, I forced myself to have them. I also recall very physical responses. My heart raced at moments. I had to stop and collect myself at times. I sometimes felt lightheaded. It was stressful.
Most importantly, Dad gifted us with love, demonstrated in a thousand ways. He created a legacy — a bank, so to speak, filled with conversations and ideas, memories and phrases, that not only bring us comfort but inspire us in our daily lives. That’s what a life well lived does: it fuels the living.
Dad’s last sentence to me was a gift, in the form of a lesson: Your love sustains me. In the years since, his words have powered great lessons about the nature of love. The way love fosters, confirms and preserves; how it feeds, nurtures and validates. In the coming weeks I’ll share what I’m learning about the diverse nature of love and the wonders it works.