Waking Up After Father's Day
Before I opened my eyes from under the covers this morning, I knew I was feeling something weird; in my heart more specifically. My crusty eyelashes reminded me that I was crying the night before whilst watching the melodrama-ey movie from 2000, "Hanging Up" with my hubby. On the surface I remember thinking as I watched it, that it was mostly a vehicle for Meg Ryan to play the role she excelled in: the goofily wacky and awkward woman-child who adorably stumbles through her life. Except she is goofily trying to deal her way through the imminent death of her beloved, irascible father played by Walter Matthau. Really deep down it just brought up all those still undealt-with feelings of my father who had passed away 11 months ago. It can't be almost year can it, I asked myself (yet again) last night? Some days I wake up and I forget he is no longer with us. It just feels like the way it has been for years now: I am the daughter that lives in another country, far from him but he's my papa, my rock and he's always there if I need him, all I need to do is crank up the skype or jump on a plane. Then I remember he's not here anymore and my world starts to contract a little...it feels like peering through a Nikon Lens and then you adjust the F-stops and the visual in front of you gets a little out of focus and feels smaller because it is now blurred. Everything goes from crystal clear to just fuzzy and smaller and then you don't want to keep looking through that lens anymore because you can't see clearly because everything hurts again and the tears welling up mess up more than your eyesight.
That movie last night was the finish to a tough Father's Day. Waking up today is the aftermath. I have been convincing myself for the past 3 hours to get up and step on my mat and do my yoga. I know I will. But I know I have to write this and deal with the feelings that have been coming up all these months that I keep pushing down. It's like what we call in yoga philosophy to be a vasana; those deep buried emotions in our subconscious that we keep pushed down, that are like beach balls stacked one on top of each other, under the water. It takes all our conscious energy to keep those beach balls under the water, out of sight and consciousness. As we are too busy juggling the top beach ball that rests on top of them all, above the water. Whatever our current big beach ball issue is in our lives right now: our partners, our children, our jobs, our finances...we can't let the other beach balls underwater pop up as that would mess up the delicate balancing act we already are in, with this thing called life.
Cut to waking up yesterday, on Father's Day. I have to admit now I avoided preparing anything for THE father in our lives that matters the most, my husband. I really wanted to make a fuss. But I could not because something paralysed me from doing so; my own papa who had passed away. I know it was a coward's way of dealing with it, because in being unable to face yet again, the loss of my papa, I also lost a chance to honour my own husband who is a wonderful father. Mostly I spent the day trying to keep that big beach ball of my papa's death, under the water so I would not have to deal with it. I didn't even have the energy to tell my kids to make a big fuss for their dad, on my behalf, in the way they do so well: hand-made precious cards, home-made videos and funny greetings and big hugs when we wake up in the morning. I couldn't deal with all this stuff as that Papa-death-beach-ball kept threatening to pop up violently to the surface. I am sorry my dear hubby for not being able to deal with this all, at your expense...
It did not help that everywhere I looked, everyone was remembering their fabulous fathers. Facebook, Instagram et al posts filled with wonderful tributes to papas who were still alive. And then me just feeling more than a little jealous that these people could actually post real-time photos of their alive papas and say stuff like: "To the best papa one could ever ask for...etc etc" Masochistic me would read the posts, look at the photos, feel happy for my friends and then next emotion was a little resentful. It's irrational I know as it is not their fault that they still have papas around and in fact, what a joy for them. I guess I just felt like, why can't I have that too, I want that still, I want to be able to have a nice dinner and spoil my papa again.
If I am not conveniently forgetting that my papa is no longer here with me so that I can operate through my day under such a delusion to avoid pain, I vacillate to the other end of the spectrum, wishing I could see him one last time. He died in an accident, so the last time I was with him, I had no idea it would be the last time I would ever see him in the flesh. It upsets me no end that in fact, I cannot remember the last time I saw him--I want to remember every detail of that last moment when I said goodbye to him before boarding the plane, but not knowing it would be the last time, it was just another one of those many moments where I said goodbye to him as I left to go home, to my home in another country. I think I want to see him one last time and say goodbye. Hug him really tightly till he cannot breath, and let him know again and again how much I love him and to say thank you for everything he has done in his life to give us our life. I won't ever have that chance now. But if I knew he was going to die I don't think seeing him one last time would ever be enough. I would want him around forever. I would want one last time, all the time, every time. Is there ever enough time, or words, or chances or life to tell our fathers how much we love them? It is never enough. I know this is just my delaying tactic to keep him with me for just a little longer. I know experts in this stuff would say I am clinging, in denial and cannot let go. And they are right.
As I write these words, I realise I am not being very positive; please don't get me wrong, I am usually the most positive person in the room. Here's my Waterloo, the one thing that does trip me up. I do feel the pressure to be positive, because this is what I am supposed to do as a yoga teacher, a healer: be positive and help others to find that positivity in their lives. But for those of you who have loved and lost and still stumble with trying to get over it; feel some comfort in knowing that this is ok. There are days that will be good and days that will be lousy as. I told my sister today that I feel like I have not made any progress in getting over my papa's death, I feel like I am still nowhere near learning to accept and let go. Some parts of me think "oh it's too early, it's only been 11 months" and other parts of me feel like I am doing well since I don't cry as much and as often so it is getting better. Except that when those times do come, I come crashing down and the tears and darkness come as hard and as long as they did before and it feels like it's just yesterday when I received the phone call that he had fallen down those stairs.
How does one write the love for a parent out of one's heart? How does one look forward to the rest of one's life without the one person that was their rock and foundation? How does one learn to deal with opening the door again and again, the opening of which means breaking one's heart into a million pieces, opening that door with courage and learning to deal with it so that one day we can open that door once more and not feel like the world has ended? I can never close my heart off to my papa; but I know I have to learn to deal with it in a way that does not debilitate me.
I do believe he is watching all 7 of us in the family, and he is always with us especially in our most difficult moments. I imagine though that he looks at us with love and albeit dispassion, ever the analytical neurosurgeon, thinking: "ah yes, sweetheart why do you have to hurt so much? you will get over this in xx time, when A happens so that B can happen and then C will come to pass so that one day you can get to Z and find peace. Stop crying and start living because that is what my winner does!" And of course I can hear him saying even now in the dialect: "Enough crying! Aldanas do not cry! We excel in everything including LIFE! This crying business will only hold you back; stop crying, grab life by the lapels and WIN!"
Well, papa, I will try my best to live my life in a way that will make you proud. It is all right to cry, it is all right to feel like a wreck and hide under the covers and not want to face the world because you have lost someone you loved dearly, or something that means so much to you. Grief, like love, is a very personal thing. No timelines, no should-be's, no manual on how it all should be played out. I always tell my yoga students, "Yoga is a personal journey; it is YOUR yoga and no one else's; don't compare, try your very best, listen to your body, practise ahimsa (non-violence) and be kind to yourself and most of all, have fun." Well, I just realised as yoga is like life, so too is it like the acceptance of the death of a loved one. So I'll get out of bed and try to practise Ahimsa for own bruised heart today in the best way I know how; step on the mat and find my freedom and feel my heart fly and sing with yoga. It never fails me.
Find your yoga whatever it may be; as long as it does not hurt you and take away your health and heart, find your yoga. Life is beautiful with all its bumps and wounds. And we have many lifetimes to keep trying to find our yoga. That's the beauty of it all. We are only asked to try our best. Because the very best we can give is all that we can do.
“Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the Lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipoise is called Yoga.” from the Bhagvad Gita, translated by B.K.S. Iyengar