Anniversaries Before and After

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my father. His passing has changed my life in many ways, not the least of which are anniversaries. His birthday. Father’s Day. Their wedding anniversary. Anniversaries of family reunions, etc. In the not to distant future, I will have to deal with the anniversary of his passing.

Last week was the anniversary of Mom and Dad’s wedding. Sixty-six years ago they promised togetherness “’till death do us part.” I spent time viewing pictures of them together (as it turned out, celebrating earlier wedding anniversaries) with gratitude to the photographers.

Now that Dad is gone, all memories are tainted with loss and I find the need to make sense of the loss lest it cripple me one more time. I go back to the image of death as a rebirth canal where like infants in the birth canal, we are pushed by force beyond our will or comprehension into a life we do not yet comprehend.

Someone wrote me, “what meaning can life have without death?” Perhaps he suffered through the rebirth canal. Perhaps his life took on new meaning and direction after passing of a loved one- like me. This happens to many of us: after the death of a loved one, we later awaken to the value of each new day, the loveliness of our spouse and children and the preciousness of each breath.

As valuable as this rebirth is, I do not accept my father’s death and all the subsequent anniversaries relived without him as the best deal or the optimal way to find meaning in life.

If we are aware humans and will give time to others in need; if we will shed our egos from time to time to be vulnerable to the sufferings of all living beings, perhaps we will not spend so much anniversary time crippled by the loss, but on our knees in gratitude and service…creating new anniversaries marked by everlasting compassion.

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