I try to teach my teenage son that every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. . .
The part I leave out right now, is that sometimes the pain of that growth is so debilitating that your heart is begging for another way to “learn the lesson”.
Seventeen years ago today when my dad died suddenly at 56, it felt like someone took a knife to my heart and twisted it. I had a conversation with him on the phone at 9:30pm on a Tuesday, and Wednesday morning at 8:30am my brother called me to tell me he died. That was it. That was the end of the book. I didn’t get a do-over, I didn’t get a warning. Just over.
My dad died when I was 30 years old, and it threw me for a loop. The kids I work with experience a much greater agony at 2, at 9, at 14. I’ve heard children tell stories of holding their best friend in their arms while they bled out on the street, or watching their father gunned down in front of their home. I remember the gamut of emotions that followed my loss. I can’t even imagine the emotions that follow in acts of senseless violence. And people wonder why children kill. When I meet a 14 year old killer I don’t look at them as “an adult monster”, I want to know what happened to them in 14 years to give them the pain of a 40 year old. Because only in recognizing the brokenness, can we find healing.
My son will never know his Pop-pop, and God-willing, he will never know violence up close and personal. But he will benefit from all that I learned from my dad. Most importantly, he will benefit from the lesson I learned from his passing:
Love the people you have in your life, so if and when it’s time for you to depart from one another, you can more easily get to that place of peace where you say, “We had a great life together.”
I had a great life with my dad.