I’m very grateful for all the calls, cards, emails and online messages offering sympathy for the recent passing of my father. It’s a real process to lose a man who has been such a big presence in my life and I know it will take time.
Yesterday I was in Costco and I went past the large wholesale boxes of Ensure nutritional supplement. Without warning, I started crying as I remembered bringing a glass of iced Ensure along with an egg salad sandwich to Papa. This was his everyday lunch. I quickly walked to the back of the store to compose myself. A seemingly insignificant object can provoke such a vivid memory and emotion.
What I am most struck about losing Papa is that this event happens every day to thousands of people. They experience births, deaths, weddings and other big life events and still when it happens to you—the outpouring of emotion can take your breath away. Dying is nothing new and it is inevitable. But the bond of what makes us so uniquely human is that we cannot let an event like death happen without taking note.
It seems almost silly to say it—but I am proud to belong to the human race. We are creatures who must show concern to each other, even if what is happening is nothing unique. We do not let the miracle of birth pass by without offering a gift or asking to see a picture. Weddings are ordinary events and still we must stop and take a moment to acknowledge the love and commitment of two people. And now that I have lost my Papa, I count myself as one of those humans who experienced first-hand what happens when others reach out to show true compassion. Each word of love and kindness meant so much. I am moved to be a part of the connection that happens when people care.
My brother David told me, “We are not truly adults until we lose both parents.” And that’s true, I won’t have anyone to call me Beti anymore. But life goes on; weddings, birthdays, graduations, births—and yes, death.
At Papa’s funeral, my brothers and sisters shared briefly about his life. This is a short excerpt of what I said:
There are people you meet in life, that are so significant and so consequential that you never forget them. Papa was one of those people. When he was in a room you would be compelled to take note of him. He was a remarkable man and lived an extraordinary life.
A few years ago, I was sitting outside on Papa’s deck, watching the total eclipse of the sun. We had just finished eating some Indian food I had made. The day was very still. From his vast store of knowledge he explained so much more than just the moon passing over the sun. As was his way, he used the eclipse to illustrate a much greater and significant truth about God. It was so peaceful to sit with him and watch him gesture with his beautifully tapered hands while listening to the deep rumbling of his voice. He was the first person to introduce me to the love and grace of God and each time he spoke to me he reminded me of this again.
Saying that I will miss Papa is one of the greatest understatements. It was such a great comfort to know he was praying for me every day. I won’t have anyone to call when I have questions about the really big questions of life. I will never again hear the multi-dimensional, triple level insight on some seemingly insignificant passing comment or object. His laser-like focus on his purpose and calling in life is something I will miss greatly.
Goodbye for now Papa, I miss you and will forever love you.