Today marks the 4th anniversary of the day my Dad lost his battle with cancer, and the day I began my battle with accepting the outcome. Up until that point, I had not had to deal with the issue of death. It almost seemed like something that happens to other people, the fact is it happens to all of us.
Going through all of the expected stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, I have learned a lot about myself. There was a period of time (most likely the anger stage) that I felt the world owed me something and so I went on a streak of reckless decision making. Fortunately, none of the repercussions we enough to break me.
The depression stage is really a motherfucker, but thanks to many hours logged in at the 24hour health club, a shit load of green tea, and my top secret, fish oil pills, that wasn’t enough to break me either. As I made my rounds through each stage, I picked up countless life lessons and achieved amazing levels of self-discovery (not that kind, ya perv!), but I couldn’t figure out “acceptance.”
In a private room, on my birthday in May of 2006 the doctors gave us the news that the battle was out of his hands and into Gods, I still wasn’t convinced. It didn’t seem possible, which is why I had an unbelievable calmness with me for most of the process. What changed me forever was when the doctor delivered the news to my Dad. Witnessing his reaction to the news was the most powerful thing I have ever seen in my life. He processed the information, shrugged and accepted it, with out a flinch. Death starred him in the eye and he stared back without blinking. That was the biggest display of manhood I’d ever seen.
Reflecting back, that’s why I had such a hard time with the acceptance phase. I wasn’t ready to grow up. And finally after being sick of feeling like a wandering boat in the middle of the ocean, I simply couldn’t handle being rudderless a minute longer. I looked inside myself, outside, to the Bible, and everywhere else I could think of to figure out how to break through the last stage. And just before giving up, I googled it.
My answer came from a 14yr old who began to accept reality after she wrote a letter to her Dad as if he was alive today. I was skeptical, but I missed my father/ best friend and desperately needed to have a chat with him. I really let myself play “make believe” for a while and typed my imaginary email, hoping I could somehow find God’s e-mail address and then He could forward it to my old man. By the second paragraph, I started to feel the weight lift off my shoulders more with each sentence. After I finished it, I immediately felt like I had finally been awaken from a really long trance. I was completely at peace experiencing a comfort, like I had my Dad’s around my shoulder.
I was worried it was going to be a quick fix, and the next day have to deal with a grief hangover. Much time has passed since I wrote the letter, of course I still miss my Dad, but am at peace with it. If you are grieving, you should consider writing a similar letter, trust me. I draw on what I discovered during my time of grieving for inspiration for moving forward at an accelerated rate towards my goals and aspirations. I’ve never been intimidated by a lofty challenge like getting on the radio at a young age, but now I’m absolutely comfortable shooting for the stars in my next round of conquests. Like Kanye West spoke of a younger him, “I was either really confident, or really delusional.”
I’m not afraid of failure, adversity, or chasing my dreams. Which is why I have some really exciting plans and will be sharing them with the world, some as early as this week! Going forward, I’m ready to accept whatever is facing me in life, shrugging my shoulders at any challenge, as my father did facing his death.