Several days ago as I was walking on a very rural road, I heard a door open…there were no houses around. As I continued along, I began to see red-tailed hawks, which I’ve always associated with my paternal grandmother, Maude. I returned home and noticed a male cardinal sitting in a tree near the entrance to our driveway, and the words, “Hi Dad” came out of my mouth. I’d never associated cardinals with my father before, and I hadn’t heard from him in months, so the words surprised me. Later that evening I found out that my father had passed away…probably while I was on my walk. After I made the necessary phone calls to family and went to bed, a deep feeling of relief and freedom came over me. I felt like I was flying and I could feel my father laughing and flying too. This feeling has stayed with me.
My father was 91 years old and for the past 6 months, he had cut off communication with everyone except his wife and her family, and since they didn’t communicate with us either, I felt somewhat in the dark. Around Christmas time, I finally made peace with the idea that I would not see him or talk with him again. This took a lot of focus on my part. My mind would keep saying things like, “How dare he keep me away after I’ve been so good to him!” or “Why doesn’t he want to see me? Did I do something wrong?” But I kept bringing myself back to the thought, “Even if I don’t understand this, at some level, it has to be right.”
After he died, I could see how his letting go of me last summer was really a blessing. It helped me to let go of my ideas about how things “should” be, and to not judge either him or myself for the way he chose to live and to die.
Over these past few days, I’ve felt closer to my father than ever before. All barriers to love are dissolved and what I sense now, when I think about him, is laughter, light, and a spirit of fun.
I realize that my experience of my father’s death is not everyone’s. Many people do feel deep grief, loss, sadness, or despair. But my experience is a valid one too, and one that many people feel uncomfortable expressing. Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who have had a parent die and say that they feel guilty because they don’t feel bad.
That is the reason for my writing today. I truly do not need or want condolences. There is a Divine order to this life, this universe, that is beyond my conscious mind’s ability to understand. My father’s life here on earth, and his life now in the unseen realm, is a part of the mystery of being, and I am so happy that I was, and am, a part of that. As odd as it may have looked to others, as “dysfunctional” and disturbing as it could have been described, life as Bob Muncil’s daughter was a wild trip. Bon voyage, Dad!
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong: but sometimes it is letting go.” Hermann Hess