This is the last month in which I can say “My dad died last year.” Yup, I’ve thought about that. Usually we count down towards the future in anticipation of something, but I know it has been eighteen months or a year and a half since my dad unexpectedly died; and in one month, it will be farther in my life’s rearview.
Isn’t it strange how we keep track of things according to time? I think so. Only when I stop to count do I realize how long it has actually been. Seriously…think about everything that’s happened in your life in the past year and a half. Pretty crazy, right? I’m utterly amazed at how far I’ve come. I could not have guessed that a year and a half later, I’d be sitting here, on a bus from Puerto Viejo to San José, Costa Rica. I couldn’t have told you that I’d continue moving forward – I mean, of course my only direction would be forward, but in that moment of death on June 7, 2013, my world stood still. I couldn’t have told you that my life of movement was just beginning.
Constant movement is my thing. My job requires it. My personal life requires it. I require it. And it is during this movement that I am reminded of my dad. I see him in the sunsets, I see him in the stars, I see him in the passing landscape, I see him in fellow travelers, and I see him in my adventures.
One can never anticipate death’s effects. It simply affects you – any time, any place, and while doing absolutely anything. You know what I thought of before bungee jumping 470 feet into the lush, green mountains of Monteverde? My dad. I blocked out everything else, even Christine shouting “I love you, man” and the guys counting down 5-4-3-2-1. It was Monteverde, my dad and me.
This makes me wonder if I chase that adventure high to feel him or, if in doing so, I am honoring him. I guess it could be both. In experiencing death, I realized I needed to be experiencing life. Again and again, I talk about time. Do we have enough? Or are we not using it wisely? My dad’s life being cut short jolted me alive. I could always be doing more.
I’ve been recognized for my energy – I multitask and am constantly moving. It’s been good and bad in dealing with death. A year and a half later, I am still moving forward and, consequently, am still shocked at how fast I do so. These moments of reflection make time stand still again – I’m back at the hospital, standing next to my dad. And losing him creeps back into my mind again. So I keep moving. Healthy? Ehhhh, not necessarily. Working? Yeah, pretty much.
I keep moving until I’m standing at the edge of a cable car platform, staring down upon the greenery below. And then I jump, spiraling downwards and rebounding upwards. My world literally turned upside down and when I was pulled upright, I was breathing deep because I felt so deeply. I was overwhelmed with emotion. When the cable car returned to solid ground, a fellow bungee jumper noticed that I looked more alive, and damn did I feel more alive.
The adventure highs I experience when I travel help me to feel my grief. I think they provoke it. In feeling alive, I feel pain. Opposing emotions brought together in the stillness of these moments force me to feel, to grieve. It is because of him that I continue to move forward, to experience and to travel. I am seeing him, feeling him, and honoring him whether he is physically a year and a half away from me or he is spiritually in the very moment closest to me. For me, my dad’s death has cemented my pursuit of movement, travel and newness. What I didn’t realize, however, is that his death has also affected my gratitude for reflection in times of stillness, even when I’ve tried my hardest to propel myself through them.