When a Parent Dies

My father passed a year ago. I thought I was ready because he had been ill for several years. Perhaps I was prepared for him leaving this planet, but I was not prepared for my own internal shifts. Dad was no longer there to comfort or to criticize me. I became aware of how often I did – or didn’t – do something because of his expected reaction. Suddenly, I felt both free and incredibly vulnerable – I can do anything and there is no net beneath me.

Of course that’s not true. I can do anything I’m meant to do, anything I truly desire. And yes, that first primal net is gone. Yet, a year later, I see that my clipped wings have grown back to fullness and not only do I have other nets, I also have wings that significantly negate the need for them. It’s stunning, actually – the kind of stunning that stops you in your tracks until you can truly process what’s before you, both the beauty and the grief.


Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Now the butterfly is emerging, her vulnerable wings will soon dry. Where will she fly?

Despite the fact that we’re in the dark and cold time of the year, I feel my sap wanting to rise as I sense the possibility of new life within me. I may be out of sync with the sun, but I’m right in line with the moon. My grief has waned and I’m resting. As the dark moon approaches, I go within – evaluating and discerning what dreams wish to take flight.

In the last year, I have unearthed stories that have kept me from powerfully taking my place in the world. Even writing “powerfully taking my place” scares me as much as it excites me. I’ve broken through the cocoon of safety and its illusions – just in time.

I admired my dad’s passing. He did it incredibly well. He brought the family together for my mom’s 80th birthday a few months before he died. We hadn’t seen each other in almost 30 years. At my mom’s three day birthday event, my siblings and I reconnected, and Dad spoke his love and gratitude for all of us. Because of that time together, we were able to be there in his last days to support and comfort each other while we made the decisions that needed to be made. He waited to go until my mother was ready – and then he left us. For me, personally, his passing was beautifully timed with this last year’s growth. I am emerging full winged just as the world shifts enough for me to step into my place.

I’ve been waiting for almost ten years, now. I’ve been sharpening my skills in preparation for something that I couldn’t quite define. In some ways, I’ve felt all dressed up but nowhere to go. My life didn’t stand still, exactly. I just had this sense that I had to prepare. The unearthing of stories that kept me small and seeing the illusions of safety were my last tasks. Thanks Dad for leaving me so I could do them.

A part of me wants to step on a platform and shout to the world all that I now know. But the wiser part tells me not to push the river – rest with the moon, let my wings dry and my new dreams land. No need to stumble onto that platform. I’ll wait and then gracefully step up. It’s within reach now and I feel certain it will not vanish.

I’m just remembering when I was little that my dad told me if you didn’t step off the escalator at just the right time, you’d be taken under. I imagined the dusty, dark horror of going under and having to wait to breathe again. For years, I experienced anxiety getting off escalators. I’d stand poised to jump way too early and only breathe again when I safely landed on the next floor. Decades later, I can get off an escalator with relative ease. But the little girl, who wants to be safe, doesn’t breathe easily until both feet are on the floor. This time, I’ll hold her hand and tell her about all the wonders of what’s on that floor. She doesn’t need to even think about what’s under that escalator. She might even figure out she doesn’t need it; she’s got wings


Photo by Rob Potter on Unsplash

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