Just a little over a week earlier, I said my final goodbye to my dad. It was early morning and I stopped by the hospital to visit him before I headed back home. I knew this would be our last time together. I walked down the hall slowly thinking about what I should say to him. What will he understand? Will he know who I am today? I do like not last moments. Things like last moments of vacations and last days on a job leave me feeling a bit melancholy inside. However, this was a last of a different caliber. This was forever. Upon approaching his hospital room I stopped. I heard Dad pleading with the nurses about taking his medicine. In a little tiny man voice, he said with a kind plea, “You people are so nice, but please quit feeding me that soap.” They were crushing his meds up in apple sauce and I am certain it really did taste like soap. My Dad--his worse fears coming true. Laying in a hospital bed, frail and helpless, ending up like his mother. Losing his coveted privacy and feeling helpless was the ultimate blow. To have a group of people hanging over him and nagging at him, he hated this. I would hate it too. Here I was standing and watching him just like he looked at this mother a long time ago. I envisioned myself someday as a tiny demented old lady punching out and biting the same nurses. How can my dad be so kind right now? Is this my destiny? I decided to let him know I was there, “Dad, please just eat it so they will leave you alone!” He looked up stunned to see me in the doorway and said “I know you!” I replied back, “Yes, of course you know me!” and flashed him a big smile. Of course he did—in a way beyond words. In a way only described in "the things” we used to talk about.
My dad and I had a special bond when I was a little girl. Between the ages of 4 and 9, we would go on walks together down the street after dinner. We would walk slowly hand in hand and stop to look at the creek located at the end of the block. As a middle child, I often felt lost between two siblings so this time alone with my daddy was special. He called me Babbling Brook and I called him Roaring River. Roaring River would hold my hand and I would begin ask questions about the things. “What is the hole in the wall where the door closes?” I asked. “That is called an Onionstein,” he said. What is the little dip on my upper lip right under my nose called?” I asked. “That is where God touched you,” he said. “Where did the sky come from?” I asked. “God made it,” he said. “Where was I before I was born?” I asked. “You were a twinkle in in your daddy's eye,” he said. My dad would always come up with an answer and often it had something to do with that big and powerful man in the sky named God. The man that was supposed to be everywhere. At least that is what they told us in Sunday school. That man we would pray to during the Jewish high holy days. The man that must not know English since Jewish prayers were in Hebrew. I pictured a combination of Moses, Zeus and the Wizard of Oz with a long gray haired beard with magical powers. My toughest question, “Where do we go when we die?” “We go to be with God,” my dad said. Wow, God was creepy and scary!
Those days of talking about the things were important times. We stopped not too long after my parent divorce, but my dad and I occasionally reminisced about our talks. It was at my dad’s funeral I realized that I had so many unanswered questions about "the things". Things I have overlooked for too long. Am I Jewish? Where did my dad go? What is God? What makes me happy? Am doing what I really want or what everyone else thinks I should be doing? This may sound strange, but I found a hidden gift in my dad’s death. It woke me up so I would seek answers to my questions. For this, I am thankful.
I initially started meditating and practicing Buddhism in hopes I would recreate the contact with my dad I had in yoga class. Was it all my imagination? Over time, this question has become irrelevant. The combination of meditating and practicing Buddhism stirred something up deep inside of me--my spirit. In a very short time, I have learned God is not creepy and scary as I made HER out to be when I was a little girl. God is my inner voice, my strength, my wisdom. For me, meditation is about being with God and Buddhism is a path to deepen the experience. It is about being quiet and listening to my inner voice and wisdom. Some call this process prayer. The term "God" is merely a label to describe the divine presence and energy within all of us. Where did my dad go when he died? He is part of me always. It gives me comfort to know when I really want to feel my dad's presence I can simply be quiet and really listen. In this quiet inner space lies the answer to all of "the things".