I was almost out the door when I heard Marian playing something on her computer. It caught my attention and I came over to see what was playing. As the music and images played, the tears began to cascade down my cheeks and slide down my jacket to the floor. I was heading off to a meeting and I cursed the intrusion of the welling emotion.
This Remembrance Day seems more poignant than most I remember and along with cursing the volatile emotions, I’ve also given thanks for that access to my most human of vulnerabilities, grief. Perhaps this Remembrance Day touches me more this year than others because I am still facing “The Year of Firsts. ” Recognizing the intense loss that rushes like floodwaters on dates like December 24, June 14, June 24, and soon to be November 14. Moments of such deep longing for my Dad that arise like hot fiery lava when I notice “This is the first … without my dad.”
On these “big dates,” the grief comes in like a tsunami leaving me battered and beaten from the stormy seas. On other days, it comes in quiet surprise. A thought here. A tear there. A connection between this moment and my dad and then remembering that he is gone from my present moment. And that I can’t call him and ask for advice about how to put my motorbike away for winter. That I can’t email him and share my excitement for the next big climb. That I can only reach him in my memory. On these days, the grief slips in like morning dew that clings to a blade of grass until the sun evaporates it away.
Remembering as I did this morning that my dad was a veteran. It was only something I learned about him in the year before he died. He, at the age of sixteen, snuck away to join the US Marines. He served for two years, I think, before his age and citizenship were discovered and he was discharged. My dad’s dad was also a soldier. I’m struck today that I have never, before today, made the connection between Remembrance Day and my family’s service in the military. I guess it can be hard to put two and two together sometimes.
So today, I observe Remembrance Day in a new way and with a new appreciation for all the loss and sacrifice that has been made and continues to be made in pursuit of freedom and peacekeeping. Today, I’m grateful to my dad, to my opa, and to all who we remember today.