It’s funny, sometimes, how synchronicity seems to strike your life. It seems to happen a great deal to me, people entering my life at the exact moment I need them, or bringing me a word or a thought so relevant to what I am experiencing in my own existence at that point. It happened to me again this week, dear friends, and on this, the month of the 6th anniversary of my father’s death from lung cancer, I wanted to share it with you.
It began with a message from a friend who has taken on a new job with our local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society. He asked if I would be willing to meet with the Executive Director for our region, and I said yes, of course. I said yes because it is interesting to me professionally to help non-profit organizations through my community blog, and because I love to meet new people and show them what my city is about. What I didn’t expect, though, was that this meeting would be far more personal than professional. I should have realized, of course, since I watched my father suffer and die from lung cancer 6 years ago, and thus cancer touched my own life very intimately.
We met for coffee this morning, my friend, the director, and I, and it wasn’t long before I found myself telling them the story of my father. I thought I was telling them because it would show that I too care deeply about the fight against cancer, but as I told it, tears beginning to sting my eyes, I realized I wasn’t telling them about it because of that at all. I was telling them because my father’s death, even 6 years later, has a profound impact on me. I was telling them because that experience, his cancer journey and eventual death, was one of the most difficult journeys of my entire life, and I felt the need to share it.
The director is a charming man, and one who has had his own cancer journey. The words he said to me today almost made me cry, but also smile. He said that my story is the kind of story that inspires him in his mission. He said that I clearly have passion for my own life mission. His mission might be more direct in the fight against cancer, and mine might be a bit more scattered (I am passionate about so many things, so many issues), but we are so similar in that when we care about something we act. We make it our mission. And we find inspiration in those we meet along the way.
We talked for about an hour, exchanging stories of how cancer had touched our lives, about medical care, about the cancer society, and about how I can help them. We spoke about many things, and some of them were professionally very interesting to me as a writer. But it was the personal stories that resonated, that rang loud and true and clear to me. It was the stories of those we knew who had died from cancer or other diseases, of those we had loved and lost, and those who are still fighting. The director may take my story as inspiration, but his kind words inspired me, too.
The director spoke about taking the one core value of the loved one we have lost and trying to embrace it in our own lives. I have been thinking about that ever since our meeting. My mother, now gone almost exactly three years, believed in love and family above all else. I have, therefore, embraced her heart, and love my family with a ferocity and intensity that she would not only admire but understand. My father, now gone almost exactly 6 years, valued thought and ideas, and so I have spent most of my life pursuing new ideas, and trying to find new ways to see the world. I think I’ve done quite well embracing that which was most important to my beloved parents, and today I felt a quiet pride in that accomplishment. I know that if they were proud of me for no other reason they would be proud of that.
When I left the meeting today the director explained that April is Daffodil Month, the month they wear a daffodil to remember those they have lost. He was wearing a small silver daffodil pin on his blazer, and he removed it, handed it to me, and told me that he wanted to give it to me in memory of my father. It was for me to remember him, to remember his values, and, I think, to remember my mission, whether it was to fight cancer or fight any other battles I feel are worth fighting. I almost cried at that moment, and I am crying now as I write of it, because while my father has been gone 6 years he will never leave my heart. I will never forget his days in palliative care, his months of battling cancer, but more importantly his decades of life, and of being my father. My father was a fighter, who fought for his ideals and his beliefs and his thoughts and, in the end, his life. He lost his battle with cancer, but I am here to continue that fight. I will assist in the fight against cancer in whatever way I can, and I will take his strength, and my mother’s heart, to whatever battles await me, regardless of what they are.
In the end, dear friends, I went for coffee thinking it would be professionally interesting and instead came away personally touched and uplifted. I had connected with someone and shared a deeply personal story – and I am so very glad I did. The anniversary of my mother’s death is this weekend, and my father’s is next week. This has always been a terribly painful time of year for me, especially so since my mother’s passing three years ago. This year, though, I feel differently about it. I still miss them. I still mourn them. But for the very first time I feel like I can celebrate their lives instead of just grieve over their deaths. For the very first time I approach this week with tears but also with genuine gratitude and joy for all they gave me, from life to my blue eyes to the character traits that have made me the imperfect, but improving, person I am. This year it’s like a tiny yellow daffodil peeking out of the snow and being met with warm spring sunlight. This year the synchronicity of my life is healing me, one coffee date, and one small silver daffodil pin, at a time.
|Photo credit to Public Domain Pictures|