04 November 2012
Dona Nobis Pacem
Hello, Pam here.
You may or may not know that I lost both of my parents when I was 18 years old. My mom died of breast cancer on June 18, 1985. My dad commited suicide one month later.
I finally gave up being angry three years ago. I guess it took me so long because I didn't realize I was angry.
My mom fought right up until the end. But some battles are doomed from the start. It was hard to see her change from a strong, vibrant woman to the thin, pale shell she was when she died.
My dad quit fighting when Mom took her last breath. I didn't understand it at the time, but the reason he waited a month before he followed her was that he wanted to arrange their affairs so I wouldn't have any issue with wills and insurance after he took his own life.
I would rather he had found the courage to stay with me. I never did appreciate what made him so certain that he couldn't survive without her.
I get it now. His connection to my mother was stronger than his connection to me and to life. That's hard to accept, but it has to be true. Otherwise he would have grieved and recovered in time. Or, if not recovered, at least learned how to survive without her.
I forgave him for that three years ago. I felt uplifted when I did. I felt free. My perspective changed. That last emotional barrier between me and Travis melted away. I finally was able - am able now - to give to and take from Travis more completely.
When I read that Maya Angelou quote, it made so much sense. The life I led from 18 to 42 was mostly one of survival and routine. There were hints of compassion. I had some laughs with my friends and colleagues. I learned to be kind and caring.
But the passion was missing. When Travis and I met, I almost said no to his dinner invitation. I thought it might be better if I didn't try. I think I realized instinctively that I might be OK for basic relationships like friendship, but not for a deep relationship like committing to being in love with someone.
I'm glad I didn't follow that initial impulse. Those first moments with him made me remember what my parents were like before Mom got sick. It took time, but my relationship with Travis taught me to forgive. Once I forgave Dad, I couldn't be angry with him anymore.
I'm at peace with cancer robbing me of my mom. I'm at peace with Dad choosing to follow Mom instead of finding a way to live without her.
Because I have inner peace, I thrive with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness, like Ms Angelou said. I have learned how to live my life without regret and with profound gratitude that I have been able to release the darker emotions that were keeping me from remembering how much I loved and respected my father. His choice was devastating, but his spirit is joined to Mom's as it was always meant to be. I can't continue to be angry with him for going to her.
I feel like our spirits - mine and Travis' - are meant to be joined just that same way.
Dona Nobis Pacem