One of my friends asked me whether this year has been long or short. I decided it’s been long. Last December and January seem like forever ago.
When I look back, I always think of pink sunrises in those first few weeks after the funeral. I would drive to work in the dark, and a few times a week, I’d try to find a few minutes to go stand on the roof and look at those pink clouds. The moon would be setting through the haziness out west, and the clouds would be hovering in grays and blues along the Sandia mountains to the east. Everything felt hazy, blue and gray then. However, some mornings were so stunning they took my breath away. I always felt my dad close in those moments.
There have been so many beautiful things that happened this year – and so many adventures. I’m thankful for that. But there’s also been a layer of sadness beneath everything I’ve done and experienced. The trip to Disneyland in January – getting a new job – the train ride in Durango – a Tim McGraw concert with my mom – seeing San Francisco – Balloon Fiesta. I wish my dad would have been there for those days, or that I could have told him about them. Those days and so many others.
A week ago, my family and I went to the place where my dad passed away. I have come to realize that in every place where someone leaves this world, there are angels who attend and leave that space more holy than before. When we visited, the sun was shining, there was snow on the ground and heart clouds appeared. It was peaceful and gorgeous, and even though I wish things were different a year ago, I know my dad wasn’t alone when he left this world, and my family will never be left alone either.
One year came and went on Wednesday. I took the day off and slept in. I cried in the shower. Then I tried to do a mix of reflective things, and fun things my dad would have liked. I saw a movie, ordered a medium popcorn, then went to See’s Candies (they have a chocolate named Normandie after all). I drove to the foothills and went for a long walk while looking for hearts. I came across four, and I took one of them home.
I prayed and cried in the open space and thanked God for the good things in my life. I told him I want to use the next year to be more in the moment – to remember that people can be taken away at any time, and to cherish those relationships always. I thanked God for my parents and told him I felt lucky to have my dad in my life for 30 years. I said thank you for the beauty of the world. There really is so much of it.
Before we went to bed that night, we lit luminarias in our driveway in the shape of a heart. The candles lit up the night in this gorgeous way – the way only candles can.
It’s been a long year. A long, beautiful, sad, hazy year. I’ve learned a lot about life, death, tragedy and myself. I’m going to light a candle in my heart – one that was blown out a year ago – and will let it grow brighter this next year.