A Parting Word
You are lights.
Wherever you are is lighted.
You are never in darkness.
You are only approaching darkness.
You are never in death.
You are only approaching death
for when death is entered
it is life.
For you are alive.
Therefore, once you have found yourself
you are infinitely safe
for you are always who you are:
Ultimately, when you return Home
to be received by God,
you will welcome yourself
with love and understanding.
from “Enmanuel’s Book” A manual for living comfortably in the cosmos. Introduction by Ram Dass. Compiled by Pat Rodegast and Judith Stanton
I thought I would never be able to handle, much less deal with my Father’s death. 1 year, heck, even 2, 3 years before my Father passed away, I was always anxious and fearful that my Father would die. I constantly bit my bottom lip and would cry ferociously. I cried on the subway. I cried walking to work. I cried walking from a party. I cried walking to the Bodega. I cried in the middle of a conversation. I cried always, always at witnessing love between family members, couples, puppies, even cartoons. I bit my bottom lip every night while I was sleeping, that to this day, I have 2 black bite marks on my bottom lip that I try to hide. People ask me, “Why do you have that on your lips?” I tell them that I bite my lip uncontrollably but I don’t tell them why. In the Fall of 2010, my Father told us he was diagnosed with cancer. What? Leukemia. What? My heart–What?–dropped. Then it started pounding a thousand beats at once. What? Why? Why? No. No. Why? Not him. What? Why him? Ok. No. Never will I accept this. Ok, I need to accept this. What? No. Repeat. For 3 years.
6 months ago, on June 1, 2013, my Father passed away. I was there with him when he passed on to his next journey. I was so happy, honored, and very blessed to be there with him. I was holding his hand. Wait, he was holding my hand, and I remember when he tightened my hand into his. I knew this gesture meant he was ready to go. I was the only person with him. My mother left the room an hour before to take a nap. She was so tired and so relieved I was there to be with him. For she was in the ICU all 9 days, he was there, day and night, with them. She needed to rest. My brother, David left a few hours before. He never accepted that our Dad was sick and was going to die. Just like me, David was always questioning, Why and being in denial, No, this is not happening. I didn’t accept it all, until 1 month prior to my Father’s death. One day over the phone, my BFF, Gabby, gently said, “Do you know death is a part of life. Your Father is going to die, Moana. All of us are one day.” I sobbed with acceptance. I sobbed for departure. I sobbed again because it felt good to let all the tears and sorrow out. I knew I was ready for anything. I just wanted to be with him. Be there for him. Be there with him before he took his last breath. And I was.
My father passed away in the late afternoon on a beautiful, sunny Saturday on the 1st of June 2013. He passed away at home, my parents home in Sandy, Utah. I flew in from New York City that day, only a few hours before he passed away. He got to see my smile and laugh. I got to see him smile and laugh in his eyes. (I’m taking a little moment to just cry while I write this because I remember that moment so well.) The chemo and cancer impacted his physical body so much, that his face was so sunken in and his mouth could no longer be controlled by his muscles. It just hung open like the rest of his body. Everything, his ears, his arms, just hung, flapped out, swollen and sore, laid out to rest like soggy laundry craving the sun for warmth and to dry. My Father was in the ICU for 9 days before he passed away; of course, he was spent. He finally came home, where he wanted to be. With his family. With me. I have it, that my Father was waiting for me to come back to say Goodbye. (I have to take another moment, to cry and blow my nose). 9 days earlier, I told him, “Papa, I will be back. I’m going to NYC now. I will be back, ok, ok, Papa, listen to me, I will be back, I’m going to NYC and will be back here, with you. With you Papa. ‘Ofa lahi atu.” He gave me this look of, You better, I will miss you. I love you. Come back soon. I did come back to see him go. I saw his soul leave his body. He was in Peace. Even though his physical body was so weak, his spirit was so STRONG. SO much LIGHT in that man, so BRIGHT, so much LOVE. His soul left in peace and in great slow flight. I was overwhelmed with so much profound love and peace. My Father passed away in great peace, freedom and light.
I want you to know my Father was unstoppable love, light, freedom, immense joy and happiness. He was the most generous and strongest man on the planet. He was very brilliant and very humble. Super funny and super smart. Everyone enjoyed his presence, even strangers. He created the world to be fun and enjoyable. He created this world to be sooo kind. My Father was a very, very kind man. When you met him, you got you were loved and accepted. Everyone knew him by his heart and his class. Yes, he was very classy. My Daddy had swagga before swagga was born. He taught what I value: love, passion, art, poetry, generosity, family. Yes, Family. My Father was family. He stood for family, our family, through it all: challenges, pain, struggles, sorrow, forgiveness. Forgiveness. My Father taught me how to forgive. Yes, to truly forgive. ‘Ofa lahi atu Papa. I love my life because of who you are and what you brought to me and this planet. Thank you for my life. Thank you for your life. Thank you. Thank you.