Love, Life, and Loss
Life has a really interesting way of playing out, doesn’t it? Interesting, unexpected, sometimes gut-wrenchingly painful — but also beautiful. Often it makes very little sense as it’s happening, and it’s only in hindsight that we’re able to see the bigger picture of why certain things happened the way they did.
Sometimes even hindsight isn’t 20/20.
This is a story about me and my dad. I’m still not quite at 20/20 with this whole situation, but it’s clearer now than it’s ever been. Also now I realize that having a perfectly clear explanation and validation for every experience isn’t even necessarily what matters, so there’s that too.
One of the things that still remains pretty fuzzy is that growing up, I tended to relate a lot more with my mom than my dad. Part of the reasoning for this I’m aware of but a lot of it still eludes me, which I guess is all part of it. It’s interesting though because in hindsight it’s become really clear that my dad and I actually have a lot more in common in terms of personality than I do with my mom. Maybe we were just too similar; I don’t know, but suffice it to say that there was a large amount of friction, let’s call it, between me and my dad.
I won’t get into all the gnarly details here, so for now let’s just say we grew apart.
But he always loved me unconditionally, and never stopped trying to be in my life in whatever way he could.
After several well-intentioned visits that ended up derailing magnificently, I pretty much gave up on seeing him or having any sort of healthy relationship — basically, I rejected him. So he started taking to sending me cards every year on my birthday, and emails here and there to wish me a merry Christmas or a happy new year… this went on for years. For the most part he kept his attempts to reach out fairly short and sweet, with no pressure at all; he would mention how he was there if I ever needed him, that he always loved me no matter what, and how he still gave my picture a kiss goodnight before he went to bed — that sort of thing.
Occasionally I would respond to his attempts at reaching out… Honestly though, this feels so fucked up to say now, but more often than not I would straight-up ignore him. I justified this with some kind of righteous sense of not wanting to get hurt again, and that he had his chance, that I had too much going on in my own life, etc.
While there was definitely some truth to that, it never quite sat right with me, which I’ve since realized was because it wasn’t fully accurate. It was just easier for me to write it off as “I’m right, you’re wrong” and try to move on.
But he never stopped trying.
Whenever I took the time to more carefully examine the state our relationship had devolved to, peeling back my layers of self-righteousness, I would feel this distant but enormous cloud of guilt and fear. Guilt because I wasn’t responding to his efforts even though I knew he was really trying, and fear because I didn’t want to put myself out there again — all accumulated in this confusing gray cloud that followed me everywhere.
Every year when another Father’s Day came around the cloud would feel extra dense, and I just didn’t know how to move forward. I didn’t even have any active resentment toward him as time went on… But it had been so long, and the idea of reestablishing a relationship just felt overwhelming and confusing — almost foreign.
So I continued to let things fester, which I’ve always had a knack for.
A few more years passed, we went about our lives, and then a series of events led us to cautiously communicating again. We would text back and forth, and then that turned into sending each other extremely long emails about things we realized we had in common like spirituality and an understanding of global corruption. I felt like we were cautiously dipping our toes into developing a new kind of relationship, a healthier one that was based on mutual respect and love and healing.
So we continued this rather cautious method of communication off and on for a few months, never quite getting to the point of seeing each other again in person. I was still too afraid to put my imperfect self out there, for him or anyone for that matter, and time kept on passing by — almost 10 years at that point.
Then another Father’s Day was approaching, and with each day I was feeling that cloud of guilt more and more because I didn’t know where exactly our recent bout of communication put us in relation to the possibility of meeting up. It all felt so overwhelming, so I went into total avoidance and letting-things-fester mode, until the day before Father’s Day, on Saturday, I was just at a loss for what to do.
And as it turned out, that was the day that I found out he died.
The Moment Everything Changed
He had been found in his apartment earlier that morning, and my reaction upon first hearing the news was one of… numbness? Well disbelief at first, followed by numbness, and this odd kind of zooming-out effect. For a split second time seemed to somehow elongate and remain the same simultaneously.
Everything shifted in that moment. It took me a while to fully process.
I’m still processing it to this day.
Since his death was unexpected, there were a lot of logistical things that my mom and I had to take care of. One of those things was clearing out his apartment that I hadn’t seen for 10 years, and let me tell you, that experience was like nothing else. I can’t really come up with an adjective that would do it justice.
The first thing I noticed was that his place was immaculate. He had no idea he was going to die that day, yet his place was so clean and organized! Even within drawers and cupboards and file cabinets; every single thing was exactly in its place, and it strongly reminded me of my own apartment. I have never met anyone quite as organized as me — now I know where I get it from. (Although, to be fair, my mom definitely has a knack for organization too, but she’s not nearly as anal about, for example, what drawers look like when they’re opened.)
I was also struck by the books he had. He had two huge bookshelves that were packed with books, and a lot of them were on awesome topics like spirituality, meditation, other forms of esoteric knowledge, and also more earthly but still awesome stuff like music and cars and psychology — totally my jam. It reminded me of how he would sometimes say that we were more similar than I knew, and that one day I’d understand what he meant.
I guess that day has finally come.
I couldn’t get over how many pictures of me he had around his place. On the walls, in his office, on his fireplace mantle — I remembered what he had said years before about kissing my picture goodnight, and I had no doubt that he absolutely did that every single night.
Suffice it to say, my initial reaction of numbness upon hearing the news morphed into all-encompassing, gut-wrenching grief, which would gain renewed vigor every time I discovered something new about him, especially something that we had in common. Evidence of his organizational skills, apparent love for spicy food, enormous collection of live music, abundance of faux plants and cool lighting, the fact that he had saved every single gift I had ever given him — every little thing would generate fresh paroxysms of grief pouring out of my heart.
Heartbreaking and Heartwarming
For a while my heart actually physically hurt. I had always heard the term “heartbreak,” and never before had it made so much sense.
I saw how much he loved me, and how he never stopped loving me, even when he had every reason to. I saw how much we really had in common, like our mutual love of the ocean and nice cars, an awesome dark sense of humor, and a deep-seated fear of having anyone view us as imperfect. I saw how much suffering, trauma, rejection, pain, and loneliness he had endured throughout a good portion of his life, the efforts that he went to to heal and become a better person, and how he almost always put on a brave face to the world (and me) despite what he was feeling within.
I also saw the life that he had still managed to create for himself, and later on I even got to meet some of his friends and coworkers, all of whom spoke so highly of him and couldn’t believe that he was gone. They were such great people, and they all went out of their way to share nice stories, things that he used to do, or any funny little anecdotes that they thought I’d appreciate.
What’s even more amazing is that he very rarely shared anything about the issues in our relationship with the people in his life. Apparently whenever he spoke of me, with just a couple small exceptions, it was always with total love and pride — yet another sign of his unconditional love and honor. I can’t say the same at all; anyone who I knew prior to his passing would attest that I held absolutely nothing back when I talked about him, and I was more than happy to have him be the “bad guy” in the story.
It was an interesting combination of heartbreaking and heartwarming to find out about all of this only after he was gone, after not seeing each other for a decade.
I do want to make sure I keep this real, because I feel like I’ve become a little biased (in his favor) since his passing… So to be totally fair, which he would want, he could definitely get wrapped up in some pretty undesirable human qualities at times, which I won’t list. I’m not going to pretend that he was absolutely perfect and enlightened — in all honesty, there were times where he could be a bit of an asshole, although that wasn’t his intention. (Sorry Dad! 🙈) Generally speaking though, he tried his best and did a lot of good, even given the arguably shit hand of cards he was dealt.
I was starting to understand and get to know him in a way that I never had before. I could see more of his personality, character, sense of humor, and overall way of doing things that I was never able to see growing up — the more I learned about him, the more awesome I realized he actually was. It’s just that his awesomeness was obscured by a lot of trauma and coping strategies.
Evaporation of the Cloud
Gradually I felt a new dawn of healing and connection emerging. The old cloud of fear and guilt was evaporating day by day — not only that, it was actually leaving an unexpected and profound sense of healing, lightness, and unconditional love in its wake.
I never realized how much that cloud had actually been affecting me all those years.
It’s interesting because one way or another, it was going to take something huge for us to repair our relationship. An enormous amount of mutual courage, one of us developing a serious health condition, some kind of global catastrophe — or, as it turns out, death. Because this probably sounds a little crazy, but now I feel closer to him than I ever have. And from some extremely zoomed out, cosmic perspective… maybe that’s what it was going to take. And before we both incarnated, we agreed to experience this sequence of events and have things play out this way.
I won’t know for sure until it’s my time to join him (which won’t be happening anytime soon).
I deeply feel and know that he holds absolutely zero blame or judgment; just pure awareness and absolutely compassionate understanding of everything that took place. I think there is a real beauty to that. A tragic, transcendent, epic beauty.
As time went on and I would go about my life doing non-death-related things like grocery shopping or computer work, I continued to think of him and feel his energy there with me. I found myself talking to him more and more, imagining what his reply might be, and replying to that, which could be interpreted either as legitimate astral communication or wishful thinking — either way, it makes me feel good, and it makes me feel close to him. Now I talk to him pretty regularly, and super casually too, like it’s no big deal for us to be having a conversation when I’m getting ready to go somewhere, or out buying groceries, or if the maintenance light goes on in my car — “I know Dad, I’m taking it in soon, don’t worry” — that kind of thing. I guess it’s funny when I think about it. To the casual observer it probably seems a bit crazy, like one of those people on the streets having a full-blown conversation with a stop sign, but I’m cool with that.
Our relationship now is better than it’s ever been — which is ironic as hell.
To this day, I carry on his tradition of giving me a kiss goodnight. Every single night I go to his urn, say goodnight, tell him I love him, and give him a kiss. Sometimes I’ll stand there for a while and talk to him, and other times I’m really tired so it’s more of a quick exchange. But I’ve done it just about every night since I got his ashes set up, and it feels beautifully, tragically, divinely fitting.
He said good night to me every night in life, and now I say good night to him every night after life. It’s almost poetic.
What I’ve Learned
He never gave up. He always continued to try, literally until his dying breath.
Most human beings on this planet do actually try their best, to the best of their ability — even the ones that appear to be assholes.
We’re all working with different sets of trauma and programming, and those experiences impact every person differently. Sometimes we’re able to heal and learn from that stuff and become more aware and conscious as a result… but other times it doesn’t quite work out that way, and we end up going around unconsciously inflicting a bunch more suffering on the people around us — and thus, the cycle continues.
At the end of the day, most people live their lives to the best of their ability given whatever unresolved trauma they still have. And bless his beautiful family, who absolutely had the best of intentions, but he had some major fucking trauma to contend with.
People don’t just wake up in the morning and think, “how can I traumatize my loved ones today?” I mean, most don’t — maybe the same can’t be said for, you know, Hitler, or high-ranking Illuminati members — but generally speaking, people do their best to get by in their lives with the tools that they have.
My dad, even with all of the shit that he went through, did a lot more than just try to get by. He had been actively seeking out different perspectives and opinions, taking action on what he learned, and starting to implement real healing, especially in the latter years of his life. All while feeling rejected, judged, and misunderstood.
This reminds me of one of my favorite things that I discovered going through his apartment. He had a piece of paper tacked to the wall in his office that I think he may have written from some kind of meditation or automatic writing experience. This is what it said:
Young souls get angry at others. Old souls get angry at themselves. But really wise souls, Kurt, have already turned the page. Got forever and ever? —The Universe
I still sometimes get chills when I read that. It was such transparent evidence of his constant search for healing and spiritual growth, and it makes me love him even more. I have it in my apartment now. I framed it. Every time I see it I wonder how he came to write that. I’ll know one day.
He played the villain of the story in life, but the hero in death.
Thinking about him gives me renewed hope and gratitude for this life that I’m still living, and the fact that I have the opportunity and knowledge to do my part to help break humanity’s cycle of trauma. The relationship that I had with him was one of many, many manifestations of this collective cycle, and healing it has been such a gift, individually and collectively — as above, so below.
What He Gave Me
He gave me so many things. Knowingly, unknowingly, in life, and after life. I’ll list a few below:
- Overcoming disempowerment and stepping into my true, unique, radiant, badass self, is a big theme for me in this life. He helped contribute to a perfect set of circumstances which facilitated relatively constant feelings of disempowerment growing up — which may sound like a dig, but it’s totally not — claiming my power is one of the things I signed up for in this life, and some soul had to unconditionally lovingly volunteer to help facilitate it.
- I now have a broader perspective on existence and the roles that we play in these incarnations — and the fact that ultimately they’re just roles. One life you may be someone’s beloved daughter, the next life you may be their least favorite sibling; the roles we take on in each life are like characters in a play. It takes an enormous amount of unconditional love for part of your soul group to incarnate into a situation where they know going into it that they’ll be vilified and misunderstood.
- This is probably a little cliché, but I feel like he’s become kind of my “guardian angel.” Whenever I feel lonely or nervous or happy, or anything in between, all I have to do is start talking to him, and I feel like he’s with me. He helps me however he can with his newfound tools of omniscience, which has been pretty awesome.
- A little more on the earthly side of things — I’ve always loved driving fast, foreign cars, but it had been many years since I’d had that privilege (I’ve been driving an SUV for 10 years so my dog Sophie can travel with me more easily). Even after everything we went through… he left me his beautiful car. It’s a black convertible Mercedes-Benz, and it’s fucking immaculate, fast, and so much fun to drive! A lot of people told me I should just sell it because it’s crazy to have two cars, which I get, but I will never sell that car.
The majority of what he gave me came from beyond the grave, beyond the veil — which is tragically yet beautifully perfect. It’s how it was meant to go for us this time around, for whatever combination of reasons that my currently earthbound self isn’t fully capable of understanding. And that’s okay.
He is always with me, and he’s always within me.
Back when I was a kid he had the really beautiful idea of recording a series of tapes for me to listen to after he died, and on the first tape he told me to go watch the Lion King. He drew my attention to the scene where Simba remembers who he is, that his father is a part of him and, in a way, lives on in him every single day.
Sometimes when I look in a mirror, I see him in me. Physically because I have a lot of his facial features, his smile in particular so I’ve been told, but also energetically — he has this energetic signature that’s wryly funny, playful, unconventional, mysterious, and badass — all the qualities that he came in with in this life, but got a little suppressed and messed up. Qualities which live on in me.
I have the opportunity now to transcend, transmute, and learn from my own traumas and insecurities — an opportunity that he never fully got to live out.
Now I continue on my healing path not just for me, but for the both of us.
It feels like my sacred duty. A sacred honor/duty, as Ra would put it.
Bringing it Home
He would always say that toward the end of a long (but well-intended) lecture on any given topic. He would realize how long he had been talking, notice my eyes glazing over, and say “okay, I’m almost done, I’m bringing it home now!”
It’s funny how I can remember that now and laugh, when at the time I was just beyond irritated at having to listen to him talk for hours on end.
Life is funny that way.
Life is funny, interesting, unexpected… I could go on with the adjectives. But I don’t really need to. It’s just life. It doesn’t require an explanation or validation. It just is.
I know he’s not gone; he’s just beyond the veil.
And I know he knows that I know that. (And he knows I know he knows that I know that!)
Until we meet again…
I love you, Dad.