I am still sleepy-eyed and waking from last night’s slumber. The house is quiet and I calculate at least 23 minutes of uninterrupted silence.
It feels like Christmas. Even if it is for just a tiny block of time.
I took the kids to see my family for Spring Break. It was a beautiful trip. Perhaps the most lovely in a long time.
As we pulled away from my father’s house, I could feel the build up of pressure that comes with each departure. The tightening in my throat, the sting behind my eyes as tears brimmed and then streaked down my cheeks, accumulating in the space just behind my earlobes.
I do this every time.
I cry behind my oversized glasses, gripping the steering wheel, as we pull away from what feels like home.
But this time it was different.
This time I realized it wasn’t the leaving that triggered the emotion.
It was the fear.
It’s always been the fear.
Fear that death will inevitably come for him, that this time might be the last time.
I watched as my inner dialogue carefully took notes, registering and recording our time together. Just in case.
His bravado, fueled by vodka cranberry.
The way I beat him at pool with his very own schooling.
How the anxiety in his movements gave away his missing us, even though we had yet to leave.
His desire to extend the day by rummaging for last minute gifts.
Just a few more minutes I could hear his heart say.
But as I drove down those two miles of dirt road, as the warm sun beamed in upon me, I realized something about that fear.
Fear has killed my father more than one thousand times.
As if grieving the thought of losing him might, in some way, prepare me for when it actually happens.
And that’s the thing, I’m not so sure we can prepare ourselves for experience.
Just as we can not theorize our way out of the practice.
And we cannot practice our way out of experience.
I am grateful for the strength of my fear. Grateful that it has put in so much time and effort to keep me safe. But it has also had me grieving a false scenario for more than 20 years. And as well intentioned as it is, it hasn’t always kept me safe. And it certainly hasn’t kept me from suffering.
Today, may you feel that same gratitude for your fears and may you recognize all the ways it has both helped you, and held you stuck in an untruth.
Heart in my hand in yours,