It was Christmas morning. The air was so thin in our house that no matter how deeply I tried to breathe it felt like I couldn’t get enough air. I bought my dad a blue sweatshirt that said, “World’s Greatest Dad,” even though I knew he would never wear it. He opened the box and smiled and said, “Well, I guess I can’t do any better than that.” It was the first thing I had heard him say in weeks. Two days later he died of lung cancer. I was 15 years old.
I remember the sound of the zipper going up on the bag they closed around him. I looked out the window and watched them carry him to the big black car that had pulled into our driveway. I listened to my mother’s sobs in another room. I couldn’t decide what was worse; the death of my father or the anguish of my mother. I thought my prayers had not been answered. There must not be a God.
Seventeen years later, I was driving to the Adirondack Mountains to a cabin by myself. I was leaving my home that was sick with the disease of alcoholism. I was not the one drinking and yet I was every bit as sick with the disease. I tried controlling, enabling, manipulating and lying. I twisted myself inside out to make things better and hide our secret from the world. None of it worked.
As I was driving I felt hopeless, lost and afraid. Again, I thought that my prayers were not being answered.
I looked up at the sky. Is anybody there?
I rounded the bend and suddenly there stood before me the most magnificent white capped mountain, still and powerful with its presence. I had to pull over. I looked at this beautiful mountain, so much bigger than me, and I was aware, with every part of my body, that I was not alone. I knew there was a power greater than myself. There was a higher power that made that mountain. There was a higher power that made me and was a part of me. I was so overcome with gratitude and love, and a calm sense of acceptance washed over me. Deep inside, I knew that everything would be okay no matter what.
Today I feel really close to my dad even though he is not here in physical form. In many ways I do not feel like I “lost” him at all. Our relationship has just changed. I believe that everything that happens in my life serves a higher purpose, even when I do not understand why. I believe it is often the darkest times that bring us to the greatest light. I believe that moment by moment, life is unfolding perfectly, just as it is supposed to. I am so grateful for my life filled with amazing highs and devastating lows and every beautiful, peaceful, and uneventful day in between.
I want to send out big heaps of gratitude for all of the lovely readers who have visited this blog and supported this tribe. This is my last post on Roots of She. It has truly been my honor to share my stories with you. With much love, Lori