It is coming up to three years ago that we lost my Dad. It’s strange, it feels like a lifetime ago. And yet it still hurts, like a physical pain. And I still don’t fully believe it.
My Dad was my anchor, my rock, someone who loved me no matter what. He encouraged all my less than conventional behaviors and ambitions. He was so kind and quietly generous. I really feel like he just wanted me to enjoy life, to delight in it, in any way that that made sense for me.
I have so many happy memories of my Dad, and I’m trying to focus on those, rather than on the three months that we spent with him in the hospital, in shock, running on adrenaline. That is getting a little bit easier, but at times those other memories and associations still throw me for a loop.
When we grieve, we get into patterns. Just like with happy memories and occasions, we associate certain dates or times of year with grief or loss.
This time of year does that for me. The time from June to the beginning of September brings up sadness and anger and fear, and also deep love and gratitude.
I don’t want to stay in this pattern. I don’t want to associate previously happy occasions like my birthday, and the lush days of summer, with unhappy memories. I also want to find the peace to remember my Dad with joy and love and gratitude. I know he’s fine now, and I know he’s around me, and he wouldn’t want me to be a big mess.
But I also understand that everyone grieves in their own way, me included, and it doesn’t help to put additional pressure on yourself with thoughts of guilt and shame and why aren’t I handling this better.
I played a little game with my cards today to start this process. This is a gentle way to conjure up some memories, both good and bad. Just me and my cards, my sanctuary, a place where I can feel what I need to without worrying about how it may impact anyone else and without judging myself for it.
If you’re going to give this a try, shuffle your cards (Tarot or your favorite oracle deck) and start by thinking about the loved one you are missing. Send your love and gratitude to them. Let them know you’re thinking of them, and that they are welcome to join you but its OK if they don’t.
Ask the cards to show you an image that will spark a memory of your loved one. Pull that card, and let the first thought that comes into your mind fly free. Where does it take you? Seek happy memories, but know that the more troubling ones may need your attention, so that you can make space to recall the joyful, funny and everyday.
For me, the Nine of Cups came up first. I see my Dad here, sitting in his favorite spot in the living room or the patio, reading his newspaper, with our dog on his lap, feeling loved and happy in his home with my Mom.
Next, The Sun. I see me here as a happy child. And then a funny memory came up, on my birthday my Dad used to mow the number of my age in the grass, he’d cut the lawn so that that number was carved in the grass and I could see it from our back porch. Now that was AWESOME.
Two of Wands. I remember how much my Dad loved to swim in the ocean. One summer we travelled in Greece, and at every opportunity he was in the water, even when we were on a bus tour and we stopped for lunch. We all ate, my Dad jumped in that magnificent sea.
I am teary right now, but I feel happy.