Friday, September 28, 2018
My first inkling, the seeming death of my father...
We only part to meet again.
~ John Gay
My first inkling there may be life after death happened the afternoon my father was buried. He was fifty-seven and I was twenty-eight. Being brought up a Protestant, I had accepted by word of mouth, there is life everlasting. My acceptance was too surface to have anything to do with belief and certainly nothing to do with experience.
For months before my father died of a brain tumor, he disintegrated before our eyes and before his own. He went blind within weeks, lost his body functions which embarrassed him greatly, and shortly after that, his ability to speak. It was horrible and his death was a relief. My mother, his devoted younger brother and I had been traumatized by merely watching his dying. I could not imagine what he had been going through.
Coming home from the cemetery after the funeral, feeling the darkness and angst of the past months and the grave, I started to plod my way upstairs to change my clothes. As my foot took the first step, there on the third step up was my father -- as clear as if he was standing in the flesh. He was laughing! Shocked still, with no time for disbelief, I watched him, captivated. He was looking directly at me. His mouth was open, his head thrown back and his face was full, not skeleton-like as he had been for months.
He kept on laughing, a happy, joyous laugh. It struck me on the spot, "My father is discovering a great surprise, he lives!" His aliveness permeated the stairs. Then, what seemed like minutes of me staring at him, he was gone (at least beyond the limits of my human eyes).
As I climbed the stairs, laughter began in my stomach. His happiness was contagious. As I reached the top of the stairs, joy was changing my insides. I was laughing out loud. I could not believe it -- joyous laughter juxtaposed with grief, pain, and darkness of these past few months. The graveyard feeling an hour ago was now culminating with his and my laughter.
My awestruck spirit felt pixie-light for the first time in months. I knew my father was great. At core, I just knew he was alive and swell. Amen.