Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Circle of Life

It’s April 1, 2012 and we have met at Iggy’s sports bar for lunch. As my daughter Kristen (Kiki) hands me a small yellow envelop, I wonder what April Fools joke she is trying to play on her old man. I take the small card out and read the caption on the front; “One fish, two fish…soon to be three fish…” I open it and see the ultrasound.  Suddenly, tears fill my eyes as I realize my baby is going to have a baby. She is filled with a sense of joy and fullfillment I had never seen before...and so am I.  The circle of life begins anew and a new light will soon grace us with its presence.

But, where did these tears come from? Why such emotional welling up inside?  When did I become such a mush ball?

I think back on my life and only remember crying a few times. My early childhood was marked by the illness and death of parents and many close relatives. The young tears quickly turned from grief to anger with each event. Soon the anger dried the tears and I thought I had found peace. In reality, I was hiding and masking my emotions, not letting in anymore pain. My sub-conscious motto was "never let anyone know how you're feeling".  I guess when you’re young and hurt you do what you need to do to survive.

The struggles and anxiety of trying to provide for a young family dominated my emotions and interfered with my ability to fully enjoy the birth of my two daughters. I felt joy but not a full measure due to a fear that I would not be able to take care of them. Fear is foolish folly that we all succumb to every now and then.

It took 38 years and a heart attack to finally realize we all are going to die.  I realized I needed to change. I begin to appreciate the beauty of the small things in life. A quiet morning sunrise, the chirping birds in the tree, the sound of a child laughing in the park. I was born again and began to truly appreciate family and friends.

My heart began to open to new experiences and sensations. I realized that family was more than blood relatives. I have friends who are family.  From childhood friends I been able to reconnect with after 40 years to total strangers I’ve met at airports and corners of the web. We can all be a family if we push through the ridiculous barriers we allow society ad religion to place upon us. We can all live on in others, in their memories of us and the time we spend together. Precious time…and there is so little of it.

My barriers totally collapsed during the birth of my first Granddaughter Emma. It was the first time I shed tears of joy in decades. Holding her in my arms those first few breaths, I felt pure happiness. As I watched her grow over the next few months she constantly would try to sit up. Straining her tiny head she failed again an again. Bound and determined she kept trying; This stubborn little girl would not give up.  I looked in her eyes and saw a piece of me.

My grandmother passed two years later at age 98. As I sat by her side those last few moments she said goodbye to me. Peaceful and calm she told me she loved me and was ready. As I drove home, reflecting on my memories of her, I fully understood that a part of her lived on in me. I cried then as well; Tears of happiness and, a little sorrow.

Just past 50, My second series of heart attacks brought my closer to lifes' end goal than I had ever been.  Even smaller moments in life took on even greater meaning. Watching the children of friends, family and my own grow and begin their families leaves me with unending amazement and gratitude that I am still able to share in the experience  of life.

You are born, you live, you love and you die. Somehow along the way, you pass on a part you to the next generation. The circle keeps going. Yes, I cry a little bit more now; always tears of joy