Since I was old enough to go on my own, I had been visiting my father’s grave once a year, on the anniversary of his death. When I was overseas, of course I wasn’t able to go – so I went to church instead. I pretty much never went to church unless my mother made me go, so it was a weird experience to begin with. It was the 17th anniversary of his death; he died when he was 24 from a heart attack, and my mother was pregnant with me. I was born 41 days later... on his birthday (which is why I don’t visit him on his birthday – it would be a bit of a downer for me). It’s not that I wish I wasn’t born on the same day, on the contrary, I feel like it is something that will always connect me to him and even though I never got to meet him, it’s like our special ‘thing’ that we share.
When I walked into the local church there was a visitation going on – of course. There’s nothing quite like staring at a casket of a dead guy to take my mind off of my deceased father. I knelt in the back pew, buried my head between my arms and cried as if I was mourning his death for the first time in my life. I don’t think I had ever been that affected by my unique situation before; perhaps it was a whole bunch of issues that I had been dealing with and this day served as the icing on my hormonally-injected cake.
I had been there for about 10 minutes and an elderly woman sat down beside me and put her warm hand on my back.
‘Did you know him well?’ she asked. Her eyes were tired, but kind and welcoming. I felt bad that I didn’t even know the guy in the coffin, but I didn’t lie to her – I didn’t see any point. She smiled and then I told her my entire story. I don’t know what enticed me to pour my heart out to this complete stranger, but somehow it made me feel a lot better. I felt like I had known this woman my entire life – like a long-lost grandmother, yet I didn’t even know her name.
We talked for a long time and took some breaks where she would pray and I would cry some more. I felt so much better – like a physical weight had been lifted off my chest. I know that’s a cliché, but that is exactly how it felt. After a while, she got up to leave. She gave me a hug and just as quickly as she had appeared, she was now gone.
I think she was an angel and I think it was my father who sent her to me. I don’t normally believe in that after-school special ‘touched by an angel’ religious crap, but that day, I believed.
OK...here I am, sitting in a bloody coffee shop blinking back tears from this story. So touching! Thank you for sharing. You're right. Every once in a while that "after school special crap" takes us by surprise in just the right moment, as if to say: love this life.ReplyDelete
Damn it all...here we go. So heart breaking and heart warming all in one big jumbled ball of tears.ReplyDelete
very touching, I too am holding back the tears as I read this at work..
love ya baby!