I Finally Feel My Dad
Monday, April 4th, 2016 marked 9 months since the accident. I noticed that following the tragedy, my senses seemed to become heightened. Each day has become a gift to me because I better understand the uncertainty of life. I began noticing things I never fully cared about before, such as the minute details of my loved ones' faces, or the feel of the wind on my bare feet. Prior to the accident, I would enjoy the present moment, but not in a soul-fulfilling way. I failed to grasp how meaningful the little things are—such as a hug from a loved one, where you truly feel how their embrace differs from others, and how their smell is something you never want to forget. I was never present enough to pay close attention to the details that make up life, yet now I cannot imagine living any other way.
The changing of the seasons has become so apparent to me in ways I never appreciated. This is the first spring I have been absolutely in awe of the new growth—watching the trees around me sprout little buds, I notice each day how they have matured. I am completely taken by the magnificence of nature. I have always enjoyed being outside, but now I absolutely crave it. My body and mind ache for the outdoors in a way I have never experienced.
I have started spending more time at our dock, dangling my feet over the side to stare up at the sky. I watch the airplanes fly over and smile as the trees dance with the wind. I follow the clouds as they float over me, changing shape and dimension, occasionally stilling as if they are watching me too. The birds' unique songs fill my ears as the wind tickles the bottoms of my feet. I lovingly watch the sun form patterns in the clouds as it kisses my bare skin. This change in perspective makes me more present than I ever am. For some reason lying down and gazing up at the vastness of the sky puts me in a calm state of peace, making me feel at one with the world.
This is also a place I connect with my dad. For the first 8 months, family members and friends would talk about how they could feel him, and I struggled desperately with this because I never could. It left me feeling lonely and honestly messed up because to me, I felt that I deserved to feel him more than anyone. I saw him at his weakest, with blood streaking his face as he was dying, yet everyone ELSE was able to sense his presence? It was incredibly difficult for me to deal with for months, and then one day, sitting by the lake, it changed. It was an overwhelming knowing that he was with me, and had been the whole time.
His paradise was being by the water, whether he was reading, swimming, or enjoying a beer. When I sit down there and soak up all of the beauty, I feel him with me. As if the sun that warms my skin is his love pouring over me, I enjoy the things he is no longer here to experience. But I know he is here with me, because in the stillness of this place where I quiet my mind, I open myself up to feel the things I may normally miss. As if my complete presence allows me to feel and appreciate the beauty of this place in a way that he did. Although he is not physically with me, it is in these sacred moments that I am able to feel close to him.
I hope my new appreciation for the details of life always brings me happiness. I hope I consistently have the strength to see the goodness and beauty in everything, the way my dad always could. It is always possible to find the grace of God in tragedy. I may not have my dad or Jenna anymore, but I am grateful that my outlook on life has richened, and that I am able to explore the depths of myself in ways that were not possible before.