A year since the world stopped turning. A year since everything we knew about life changed.
As I’ve said a million times before, grief is the strangest thing in life. It’s random, odd, and overwhelming. It comes in at the most inconvenient times ( like looking at Christmas ornaments in Target) and other times when you’d expect grief to be like a heavy cloak, it isn’t there at all.
My father was one of the most compassionate people I know. He would help out anyone, volunteer his time, serve on committees– you name it, he would help out with it. As this year has passed, there have been so many times when people I barely know tell me a story related to my Dad- maybe he remembered something random about them when they were younger, or asked how their parents were doing. Whatever it was, he went out of his way all the time to say hello to people, offer a smile, and good wishes. It’s remarkable to me who is often introverted or just plain clueless when I’m out at the supermarket, for example, how much he put himself out there. I’m amazed at how he remembered people’s names and faces– it truly was a gift.
I try to keep these things in mind all the time as a way to honor him. The other day I was at a workshop about leadership and a question was asked about who influenced me as a leader. The answer was of course my father, but in that moment, I couldn’t say it because I knew it would bring tears. He taught me so much about life and work– there hasn’t been a day at work that has gone by where I haven’t wished I couldn’t ask for his advice. He always had the best things to say. He truly challenged me to think about a situation or to be aware of how I was putting myself out there.
As I said with my brother in Dad’s eulogy a year ago, the world may not have known who my Dad was, but to the people in his world, he was everything.
To be completely honest, today feels like almost every other day of the year has felt. It has its sad moments, but I just keep on ‘keeping on,’ because there is no other alternative. It’s not that I don’t honor this day; this marks the full circle of a life without my Dad, but we live every single day honoring and remembering him because he was such a huge presence in life.
I could go on for pages and pages about Dad, but I’ll close with the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past year: Love is all that matters. Tell the people in your world– your parents, your partner, your kids, whoever- what they mean to you now. Make sure they know the love, the respect, the gratitude you have for them.