Death of my Father
Transformation of my Rock
Today marks 30 days since my beloved Father Stan Kessel z”l transformed from a rock to many, to a single rock for eternity.
On this day I want to share, through a private note I sent to my father on Father’s Day two years ago, the rocky past we survived and how my Father’s fierce love emboldened me to be a rock to others.
In the Jewish tradition, the first 30 days of mourning are called Shloshim: reaching the end is powerful. Sheryl Sandberg published a post on her Shloshim, 30-days after losing her husband Dave Goldberg. The marking and passage of a month of mourning makes sense; it’s an important central cycle of time, a time to renew and to come to grips with a new reality. For me, the first 30 days were a tornado of anger, sadness and gratitude.
I was angry he died so young and so quickly; I couldn’t care for him the way he cared for his parents until the end. I was so sad to lose my protector, my comic relief, my biggest fan and harshest critic. I was grateful for the incredible outpouring of love from my community who only knew him from stories. I was amazed even when family dies far away, those closest to you can bring the most comfort.
Whenever my mind was lost in grief, I clutched a rock. I have symbolized the loss of my Father by a rock. I spoke of this in depth at the memorial service I held for him at my home. His love of Rock n Roll, his rock collection and the rock he became for his family and thousands of friends through his devotion to Narcotics Anonymous.
When a Jewish person passes, it’s traditional to place a rock on their grave. Flowers, though beautiful, die. A stone never dies and symbolizes the permanence of their soul and legacy.
I pray we all have a rock in our lives; that person that loves you unconditionally, defends you fiercely, kicks your ass when needed, and encourages you to chase your dreams.
If you have a rock in your life, cherish them; and most importantly, be a rock to someone else.
Note to my Father on Father’s Day 2015 …
— — — Forwarded message — —
From: Audrey Jacobs
Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2015 at 8:17 AM
Subject: I Love you Daddy — Happy Father’s Day
To: Stan Kessel
I remember 22 years ago when I called you to wish you Happy Father’s Day. We hadn’t spoken in 10 years. I was so scared to call you. But I knew if we didn’t reconnect we could never heal the past and I would never become whole. You were grateful and gracious when I called. Your kindness, love, and ability to forgive, is one of the most powerful gifts you gave me. Thank you. I love you Daddy.
Today on Father’s Day I want you to know how much I love you, admire you and am grateful how much I’m like you. I also want you to know how appreciative I am for how much you give me and everyone in your life.
Daddy because the way you love me, you taught me how to love my boys. My boys know that their mother will kill (or have someone killed for them). Figuratively they know I will do anything for them and I have the power to make anything happen. Bottom line, I will fiercely protect and defend them. But mostly I’ve taught them to be self-reliant, confident and yet still mindful and kind to others. I know Daddy, you would do anything for me, but you are most proud of me when I take care of myself and create my own future. Your fierce love makes me strong, bold and fearless. Thank you for this gift.
Daddy I admire you for your dignity and humility. You are brilliant and have had a very successful career but you are humble about who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
I aspire to have the same deep commitment to family. Your mind and your heart each day revolves around thinking and caring for your amazing wife Sherry, your kids, your sister, her boys and their families, your stepson, his family, Sherry’s family, and your ex-wives/girlfriends. The way you loved and cared for your parents was incredible. I want to be there for you the way you were for Nana and Papa. You are all our rock. Your love of and devotion inspires me to work harder to value and appreciate my family.
Your fierce loyalty extends beyond your family. You’ve kept your lifelong friends and been there for them since I can remember. I’ve learned from you what it means to be a friend — to actively keep the connection and be consistent. I deeply admire your loyalty to NA and the people in the program. Everyone in the program you’ve touched is blessed by our generosity, patience and non-judgmental nature. Your belief in people to overcome their self-destructive behaviors is a powerful gift that I deeply admire. Anyone that has you in their lives is blessed and empowered.
And then Daddy, there’s your sense of style and individuality. I’ve always loved the way you dress impeccably, your exquisitely maintained home and your amazing art collection. And then there’s the Corvette. I love your devotion to the Corvette. Every time I see one, I think of you and how much joy it brings you. The corvette represents you: the speed, grace, and control in how you manage your life. I strive to have a style and image like you’ve created for yourself.
Daddy I know when I strut in a room and own it, it’s because of you. I know when I’m on stage giving a speech and people are captivated, it’s because of you. I know when I close a business deal, it’s because of you. I know when I rush to my friend’s side when she’s sick with hot soup and 10 magazines, it’s because of you. I know when I’m feeling successful in business and life, it’s because of you. You are in me, and I love that I’m your daughter and I possess so many of your amazing qualities.
Daddy through my divorce (hopefully the first and last) you have been loving, patience, generous and non-judgmental.
You’ve also made me laugh, which I’ve desperately needed. Divorced twice, you know what it’s like and I’m grateful I can count on you to listen and understand. I can’t express how much I appreciate you’re there for me. Thank you Daddy.
Daddy I wish I could be there to tell you this in person. You are an amazing man and father. I am so lucky that I’m so much like you. I hope I continue to make you proud and you know it’s because of you.
I love you,