This month has been very significant for me. On September 11th, my father passed away. I had the privilege of being with him when he took his last breath, something I will be forever grateful for. Nothing prepares us to say our final good-byes to a beloved parent. My father was in a care home and he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. During his final day and hours, I had a cot put in his room beside him. My mom, who also was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and my brother, had already said their good-bye’s and I wanted to stay and companion my Dad to the end of his life.
I stayed up with him all night as the nurse and caregivers came and went from his room, re-positioning him, administering various IV medications, checking on him, etc. I told my Dad stories, thanked him for being an amazing father, told him how much we loved him. I massaged his feet, held his hand, and did Reiki and Healing Touch on his dying body. I told him that if he had any regrets that he could release them now, and I did energy clearing over his body. I told him he didn’t have to fight, as he struggled to breathe with pneumonia, and whispered in his ear, “it is ok to let go, Dad.” I told him this many times throughout the night.
The sun came up, his curtain was drawn, I turned on some big band music, something he loved as a drummer, and at 9:44 am EST, my Dad left this physical realm. September 11th is my birthday and also our wedding anniversary, and now, the anniversary of my father’s passing – the circle of life wrapped into one day. In addition to this time with my Dad, I spent precious time with myself through these hours. I had my journal with me and by the light of my iPhone, I wrote and I wrote. I wrote a good-bye letter to my Dad as he lay in the bed next to me. I wrote my wishes for my Mom and our family as we embark on this new chapter of life without Dad in the world. I wrote about how I was feeling, what I was thinking and I wrote my sadness and gratitude and love down word-by-word, line-by-line.
Writing is a way to be whole, to stay grounded and centered and present and self-aware as life tosses us around in known and unknown ways. There have been many moments in my life that I have been extremely grateful that I have a journaling practice to companion me in my life. This was one of those times! I was able to write through my last good-bye to my father. I was able to use writing to feel, love and let go, minute-by-minute.
Later, in the days that followed, I once again turned to writing as I wrote and later shared my father’s eulogy at his Celebration of Life. I woke up in the middle of the night and started writing; by 3:00 am I had 6 pages written that captured the essence of my father as a husband, dad, son, brother, uncle, friend and neighbour. I shared these words and stories from my heart two days later in the presence of family and friends. In his eulogy, I read a letter he sent me when I was a teenager and away from home for 3 months on a student exchange program, his words and writing, brought his voice and story into his own eulogy, bringing him to life, this one last time.
Writing helps us accept what is. This changes everything. Journaling can help us grieve, express the truth in our hearts, our fears, our sorrows, regrets, deep love, desires and dreams. Journaling is a way to be with the wholeness of who we are and the lives we are living, moment-to-moment.
To the power of writing, to the power of love.