No one truly dies who is remembered

No one truly dies who is remembered.

No one truly dies who is loved.

I lost my father in the pre-dawn hours of October 8th, 2016. It wasn’t a sudden death, but there’s no way to be prepared for the moment. I don’t pretend that I’m alone in my grief, or that I’m the first person to ever lose a loved one. Writing is cathartic for me, and so I write to release my grief. I write to remember.

No one truly dies who is remembered.

No one truly dies who is loved.

I live several hours away from my parents, so as his illness progressed I took as many trips as I could back to the area. Looking back I wish I had taken more, but time has a funny way of appearing infinite looking forward and minuscule in reverse. And so I found myself alone with my thoughts for several hours on these trips. The genesis for this piece came from those solo drives.

I am not sure how I would have made it through multiple road trips without having my entire music library accessible through my smartphone. When I was younger, road trips meant counting the cassettes you could bring along or relying on local radio. Now every song is one I choose. It’s a hit radio station with an audience of one.

The shuffle function in a music player is the Tarot reading of our time. Each selection is random, yet we assign meaning to the sequence. Music, like all art, connects us with each other. Music reminds us that we are not alone on our path. Music helps us remember. Music helps us love.

On one of my early trips, shortly after my father’s cancer diagnosis, the Tarot deck of music pulled this card:

Oh, dear dad
Can you see me now
I am myself
Like you somehow

I remember my father as a provider. It wasn’t a role for him; it was simply what he was. I remember even as a child struggling to find gifts for him for birthdays or holidays. Everything he wanted was for his family. His first thought was what he could give, until he could no longer do so. And in his last months, when he had to rely on the very people he’d devoted his life to, every request seemed to come with a measure of regret, as though the very thought of needing help was embarrassing to his soul.

As much as my experience has been mentally and emotionally draining, my mother, my sister and my niece have borne the physical burden of supporting my father through his transition. I have experienced this progression, but they have lived it. They are far stronger than I. We have all lost our provider. We have all lost a little of ourselves. But we remember. We love.

No one truly dies who is remembered.

No one truly dies who is loved.

As I drove back to Michigan upon learning of his passing, a few simple statements ran through my head. They rose like a low rumble from my foggy mind, each of them reminding me of my father.

I will remember him by ensuring that I live those statements as he did.

No one truly dies who is remembered.

No one truly dies who is loved.