When you read the title of this post, the song from The Lion King probably popped into your head. I loved that movie, the Broadway play and the soundtracks to both. In that story, we're shown that there truly is a circle to life. We are born, we live and then we die. That cycle is very much on my mind today as I've been a witness to that circle in the past week.
While I was out of town, my dad passed away. (That's him with Mom and me last Christmas.) I'd seen him a couple of days before I left for New York, on Father's Day when I'd gone to Kentucky for a family reunion. The thought that it was the last time I'd ever see him never entered my mind despite the fact he'd not been fairing well in recent years. But here's the thing -- we'd always joked that Dad was like a Timex. He took a licking and kept on ticking. This man had been shot and lost the lower half of his right arm at age 27, had a massive stroke at age 50 but went back to logging as soon as he was able, and had a heart attack sometime in his 60s. He was a tough bird, one too stubborn to die. But at age 72, his heart gave out as he slept. It still doesn't seem real. On the way through my hometown on the day of his funeral, I found myself looking at the parking lot of one of his coffee-drinking haunts expecting to see his car. It wasn't there. It's still parked in front of his house. I think the most surreal thing was seeing the fact of his death in black and white -- in the obituary, on the memorial video they showed at the visitation, on the death certificates I just received in the mail yesterday.
But I don't want this post to be morbid or too sad because after I came home a couple of days ago, I was reminded that while lives must end, they also begin. My husband told me that while he'd been mowing our back yard he discovered we have a little burrow with two baby bunnies in it. I love bunnies, and these little guys are just adorable. They are at the beginning of the circle of life. Granted, my dad hunted his share of rabbits in his life and never quite understood my huge soft spot of animals of all kinds, but I think even he would have thought these little fellas are too cute for words.
So I'm going to watch them grow, smile every time I see them, and appreciate each day I have here on this earth and be thankful that my dad was tough enough to survive longer than a great many people. He got to see my sister and me grow up, graduate, and get married. He got to see his two granddaughters, my nieces. He got to see the pictures my sister took when she worked at Yellowstone National Park and me publish six books. I've been told he carried that first book with him everywhere he went and told everyone he met that his daughter wrote it. We didn't always see eye to eye or have the most perfect relationship, but I know he loved my sister and me and was proud of us. Not everyone can say that.
So here's to Dad. I hope you're hanging out with some bunnies in Heaven.