Reflections of a father’s daughter


It’s Father’s Day 2013. Three years already. Tonight I do not grieve, there is no sadness. Only love remains.
It is interesting how life unfolds, as I sit here reflecting and choosing the words to write. I think about the man I met who unknowingly and unintentionally helped me through my father’s death.

Like only a loving father could, I believe my Dad assisted in the process that made it possible for life to arrange things so that I would let go gradually and over time…so the pain of losing someone so devoted, so full of love for me, wouldn’t be such a shock. If it were any other way, I don’t know that I would have survived.
One can never know.

Just months before my father passed, someone came into my life bringing with him, a love like I had never known. I fell, and fell very hard, very quick. Surprisingly fast despite the immense obstacle in our lives. Someone I had only just met, though the feeling I got when we were together, was as if we had been together for centuries.
Yet…it wasn’t meant to be. The obstacle in this life was just too great to overcome…and as quickly as he arrived in my life, he’d left.

We had tried to work it out…this being together…there was great love, at the end. And he wished me happiness. As much love as there was, there was also a great pain and a great gaping hole where he had been.
Devastated and alone, I picked up my heart, one piece at a time. Vowing not to be in love with him for the rest of my life. I couldn’t bear that, and so I set about learning how to love myself…one tiny gesture at a time.
The abandonment and the great rejection cut deeply, and yet it is this pain that helped me to recognize suffering and how to heal it.
Only a month passed between the news that my new love had left, then I heard the news that my first love had left…to return home to his loved ones who had gone before him.

Looking back, it took me many years to let go and a few of those years I was angry with my father.
When I was pregnant with my son, I thought we were going to lose my father then. He had fallen in the bathtub and developed complications as a result. During his trip to Sudbury he’d fallen again and slipped into a coma. A week later, he was awake. Recovery took awhile, my family rallied around him…helping him back to a full recovery. Life went back to normal soon after. In the meantime, things were shifting for me. I began to slip from being happily married to somewhere in-between, and often blaming both my then, husband and my father for many things. My father and I used to talk nearly every day on the phone. After his accident, that all but stopped. That was when I started getting the letters. Dad would write me about his day, little stories he remembered and even a hand drawn Christmas card, including photos and other artwork. He loved me very much.

Confused and hurting, I continued to visit him when I went home and I was certainly glad he had made a full recovery and was back at home but so much had changed. I was a mother now too, and had responsibilities to my family. My siblings kept reminding me of this all the while I was at the hospital that fateful week all of those years ago. What had changed, in our relationship as father and daughter is one thing. I realized I had spent my whole life being there for my father, and later…my husband…yet when I needed someone to be there for me…there was no one. The two most important people in my life, meant to protect me from life’s troubles, with support, and encouragement…and yet it felt like an incredible weight on me…being there for the two of them instead…AND trying to raise a son. At least…this was the perception at the time. It was different now that a baby was in the picture. I learned to stop needing them.

Life gives us the things we need to grow and learn. People come into our lives who bring with them those lessons and we either learn them…or continue to repeat our mistakes.
I used to love completely, so fully that there was no room for anything else. Not even me.
Through all of those years, I was learning to carve some space out for me. And finally with the help of my friend years later, I saw that I also needed to love me. With the greatest strength, he taught me how to wish happiness for those we love. Even when we have to walk away.
It was painful, but even in the pain, there was such a great love. A timeless love. It is likely that I will always love him, and wish him the greatest happiness also…where ever he is.
My last moments with my father were also bittersweet, and unbelievably painful…in the moment of my greatest need…he couldn’t be there. I didn’t understand then why, and it took some time and help…but I finally understood.

Same with my friend…Even though we couldn’t be together in the way we might have wanted…my friend was there for me…the days following my father’s death, he was there for me on the phone during the wakes, and after the funeral…listening, supporting me, helping me through. Reflecting back on the events that took place, I don’t know that I would have survived my father’s death had I not met my friend and learned how to heal my rejection and abandonment.

As I knew that my Dad was there for me, my biggest fan…all those years before. I chose not to see it for awhile, but he’d been there. Wanting the best for me. Wishing me happiness. Accepting my choices even when they didn’t agree with his dream for me. Loving me anyway.

Now, tonight on Father’s day, I can see how his choices did protect me. From himself. For our family and loved ones. And, I know he’s always there…even though I can’t see him. When I look at myself in the mirror he stares back at me though my eyes. Loving me, love myself. Always wanting the best for me…and I’m grateful to have had his love…to continue to share his love and his great big heart with those around me, with our family and…with all of Creation.
I miss you Dad, you were such a good father…and a wonderful Papa to my son. Love you lots. xo

For Hubert Robert Tabobandung
Beloved Son, Father, Grandfather, Husband, Brother, and Uncle
1936-2010

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