(In honor of John David Farrell – born September 15th, 1958 and died October 5th, 2007.)
It seems strange that 10 years have gone by. Ten. You passed from this life to the next just a few weeks after our birthdays. I had turned 22 and you, 49. Now here I am, newly 32, and I guess you would be 59. I don’t know what you look like at 59 years of age. I picture you much the same, with a few more lines around your eyes, your laughing eyes, always laughing. I know that you would be delighted in how far we have come in these last 10 years. In many ways, it feels like an eternity. I was so lost when you left. So completely lost. Somehow, I feel like you guided me through. That was a dark year. We used to have talks in my dreams, meeting up somewhere like Jupiter, just for a coffee. It has been a while since we have had a coffee date, but, I know that they will always be there, when I really need it.
Lately, I have been thinking about the lessons that you taught me. They call these LIFE lessons. Lessons about life… You always seemed bigger than life, yes, even bigger than death. Your charisma, your spirit, your laugh. These are the things that carry on. These are the things that I must find a way to show my boys. I hope that they can see the piece of you in me.
It never mattered what you did. You could be in the grocery check-out lane, or preaching from the pulpit, or comforting a friend over coffee, but your love made a difference. It never ceases to amaze me, years later, how many people that your love made an impact on. Life has a way of bleeding us dry from time to time – all of us run ragged and empty on occasion, and feel like we have nothing left to give. I know that you felt this way sometimes, maybe more than others, and yet from this, out of this, you continued to love. That love, as you poured it out into others, always filled you up. I watched it, all my life, in amazement. You were never perfect. It was your humanity that was amazing, though. I watched you, even in your worst moments, reach out and make a difference for somebody else. In the end, it was always your love for others that carried you from one heartache to the next victory.
I know that you asked us to take care of Mom, just so you know, we are trying. Sadly, I think you were much better at this than we are.
When you were sick, you became even more of a prophet, a spiritual man. It was like as your body was fading, your spirit was growing stronger. It was intense and overwhelming to be around, as a mere mortal. When you finally left your body, after days of struggle, days of coma, it was the heaviest air that I have ever breathed, breathing in the room where you took your last breaths. I stuck around in the room, for a few moments after. I wanted to feel its emptiness, to know with certainty that you were gone. To be in the room with your empty shell and to be alone. You were gone. My sister came to get me. I’m thankful for that.
In retrospect, your death was powerful, but nothing compared to your life. I hope that I can live in a way that honors your legacy. All of your 4 children hold different pieces of you. We all honor you in our own ways, all very differently. If there was anything that you taught us, it was always to think for ourselves – to question everything, especially the things that were “given” – and to take nothing for granted.
The curse of being an idealist – as you were, and as I am – is that it is the things that are bigger than life that draw us and keep us alive, yet it is in the everyday and the mundane that we seek to fulfill this greater purpose. I’ll be honest, sometimes, right now, I don’t feel super powerful as I’m cleaning up poop and doing dishes. I’m just a mom. Right now, this is my purpose. This is my season in life. I am giving more than I ever have before. I give more of myself than I knew that I had, and yet, I’m not getting paid a dime. Ha. I’ve learned to find my value, finally, outside of a paycheck, in a society that holds no value to what doesn’t hold the value of a dollar. It has been a humbling experience, to say the least. I also know that you would be incredibly proud.
To say that I miss you is silly, because you know it already. To say that I love you is obvious. I’ll just say that, if life is so kind as to give me another 10 years, and I hope that I have many more after that, I hope that with each passing decade that I continue to grow and I continue to shine a light. I pray that in that light, somewhere, is a piece of yours.