Friday, July 15, 2011

The Circle of Life

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.

55 comments:

Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

Trish

I am soo sorry I know how you feel and life must go on but it often takes time.
Our lost loved ones are never gone while we think and talk about them they will always be a part of your life looking at old photos having a laugh about things that you did together at family get togethers.

Hugs and thoughts to you Trish

Have Fun
Helen

Sheree said...

Trish, give yourself plenty of time to grieve. When my mother lost her father, she was a wreck for weeks (she had lost her mother earlier). Tears will come and go but someday you will laugh more at your memories than be saddened.

When the towers fell in 2001, my then 3-month-old niece was passed around for "baby hugs therapy". I recently told my niece about it and she was really, really angry, proclaiming, "they used me to feel better!"

Nancy said...

Helen, congratulations on the bird.

I missed your comment about attending a funeral recently, but someone mentioned it to me. I'm sorry for your loss. As you say, photos and memories become even more important when we've lost someone.

Nancy said...

Trish, what a sweet post. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Losing a parent, I think, leaves a particular void, but it does become less conspicuous over time. It's good that you knew he was so proud of your books.

gamistress66 said...

It's always hard, even when you know time is running short, when the final goodbye slips in when you're not expecting it quite yet. I spent this past mother's day wknd visiting my mom returning to my place Sunday evening. While her health hadn't been great for a while, it was still a shock when I call on the next evening that she had a massive stroke and not expected to last more than a few days. Tues I back by her side with my siblings and with her when she took her final breaths Wed. 2 months later, it still feels strange not to be able to pick up the phone and talk to her about what ever. All we can do is believe they are at peace and hold close to the memories and love that still remains in our hearts. May they along with your family & friends loving support help ease the pain so only the joy of your father's love remain.

Inara Scott said...

Trish, what a lovely post -- brought tears to my eyes. I didn't know you had lost your father. I'm so sorry but I just love your thoughts about the circle beginning again. And with baby bunnies no less! Cutest things ever.

Much love to you on this journey. ((((HUGS))))

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, congrats on the chook.

Trish, my deepest sympathies about the loss of your dad. My dad was exactly the same age when he passed away and I still think I lost him way too early (mind you, it's always too early with someone you love, isn't it?). This is such a beautiful post.

flchen1 said...

Trish, what a lovely tribute to your father--I'm glad you and your dad clearly had a good relationship (though none is perfect, it sounded loving and supportive!) and you have great memories. Losing a loved one suddenly is difficult no matter what--it takes time to get past the sharpness of the pain. Thinking about you--I imagine your dad's enjoying those bunnies! :)

marybelle said...

Our thoughts & prayers are with you.

Anna Sugden said...

Trish, big hugs on your loss. Even though it was unexpected, I'm glad that you had the chance to see him for Father's Day. I'm also so glad that he was proud of you achieving your dream. Whatever faults our parents have, that pride is something to be treasured!

You're so right about the circle of life. We see it so often with our animals. When we lose one of our furry babies, we often continue the circle of life by rescuing/adopting another furry baby. Not to replace the one we lost, but to honour them.

How lovely that you have some baby bunnies to help you celebrate a life well-lived.

Anna Sugden said...

Gamistress - hugs to you too for your loss.

I'm a big believer in the idea that the soul persists and that those we've loved and lost remain with us. We still talk to my beloved MIL, who we lost suddenly a few years ago. She may not answer in words we can hear, but I know she's listening and every now and again will send us a sign she's there!

Laney4 said...

Trish,
Cyber hugs go to you too.
When anyone asked my father-in-law how he was that day, he almost always would say, "Just like the birds: chirp, chirp, chirping!" He has been gone for nine years now (wow....), and every time I really hear birds chirping, I take a deep breath, sometimes tear up, and then talk to Dad, because I truly feel he is there, helping me with whatever is bothering me at the time. I hope your dad's "presence" brings you comfort too.
Thanks for sharing a beautiful tribute to not only your dad, but to life in general.

Deb Marlowe said...

Many heartfelt sympathies for your loss, Trish. Wishing you and your family the best as you adjust. The pride and love and caring between you is one thing that will go on!

Janga said...

My condolences to you and your family, Trish. Your post is a lovely tribute to your father and to life itself. May all your wonderful memories of him continue to fall like a benediction on your heart.

Deb said...

Trish, I am so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in remembering your dad and the good times your family had together. {{Hugs}}
-Deb

MJFredrick said...

Trish, I'm sitting here crying--I didn't know your dad carried your book. That's all kinds of awesome. It will take a long time to get used to the idea, but I know you'll come through.

Gannon Carr said...

Trish, my love and sympathy is with you. I lost my mom last year, and she was the same age as your dad. It's never easy to lose the ones we love, but the memories of good times help to ease the pain.

Those baby bunnies are so sweet and a lovely reminder that life goes on. :-)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Helen. My sister and I did look at a lot of old photos and did some work on Ancestry.com while she was here. We even connected with some half-cousins we've never known. Dad had two half-brothers who were about 20 years old than him and who we never really knew since they passed when my sister and I were very young.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Sheree, that's actually a sweet and understandable story about your niece.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Nancy. I think I'm just getting to the age when we start losing our parents. I know four people from my small class of just over 100 who have now lost their fathers this year, including one of my best friends from high school who lost her father last month.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

gamistress66, I'm so very sorry for the loss of your mother. I'm glad you and your siblings could be with her at the end, though that probably brings a little comfort.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Inara. I have to say I think those bunnies are there for a reason, and I'm keeping an eye on them to make sure they're safe. :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Anna. You know, it was still sort of surreal to think about my dad being in his 70s. It just sort of happened, like me being in my 40s. You look around and go, "When did that happen?"

My mom's birthday is next month, so I'm trying to think of something fun to do for her.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Fedora. It was the suddenness, and the fact that I was so far away from home when it happened and had to make that long drive back thinking of nothing else, that made this so hard.

It was different, but no less painful, when my mother-in-law passed. We knew she was dying, but it was still a shock to the system when it finally happened. I know from my experience with her loss that this will likely really and truly hit me some months from now, probably right around Christmas.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thank you, Marybelle. I appreciate it.

Anna, I love how you call your animals furry babies. I think I'll call the bunnies that.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Laney, what a sweet story about the birds chirping and your father-in-law. And the time does pass fast, doesn't it? I can't believe it's been 7 years since my MIL passed away.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Deb M., Janga, and Deb (lots of Debs), thanks for your words.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, MJ. I don't know how long he did that. I didn't find it in the car, so it must be in the house somewhere.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Gannon, thank you. And hugs on the loss of your mom.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I am so sorry for your loss, I lost my mother March 2002 and still miss her. Cry when you feel the need, don't hold back and don't repress it. Laugh when a memory tickles your heart. He will be watching and laughing with you.

Maria said...

I'm sorry for your loss but I'm glad that you are able to find things that make you happy. The bunnies are very cute!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Dianna and Maria, thank you.

My sister and I have found some things to laugh about. Like a couple of days ago when we went through the Starbucks drive-through. Dad would have been aghast to see anyone pay $4 for a cup of coffee. :)

Maureen said...

Ah, condolences... I lost my Dad four years ago...and even though we knew it was coming, it was hard.

May the bunnies bring you comfort...

Jenn3128 said...

Hi Trish, I'm sorry about your dad, that pic you put up of him is great though. He really looked like he loved life.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Maureen. I do think it's hard whether we expect it or not. Sorry about the loss of your own father.

Jenn, thank you.

Louisa Cornell said...

Good on you, Helen. He was looking to cool off I think.


What a wonderful tribute to your Dad, Trish. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers as you navigate this particular arc of the circle of life. Having lost my father twelve years ago I do know something of what you are feeling. One of my greatest regrets is that I didn't start writing sooner. He would have been so proud of my contest wins and the completion of my novels. You were fortunate your father knew AND was proud of you!

Nature has a way of offering comfort when we need it most and in the most perfect ways. You will never see a bunny again without thinking of your Dad.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Trish,
Many sincere condolences to you, your sister and your mom. As everyone has said, the loss of a parent is particularly difficult no matter your relationship at the time or the circumstances.

I'm glad you got a chance to 'say goodbye' to your father on Father's Day, and that you have lots of good memories.

Take care of yourself,
AC

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Louisa, I think you're right. Bunnies are now going to be tied to my dad, but in a positive, non-hunting way. :)

Thanks, Cindy. I appreciate it.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

So, I was curious how old these bunnies in my yard are, so I did a little research. Looks like they are 9-10 days old. And I was worried because I hadn't seen the mama bunny with them, but evidently they only spend 5-10 minutes a day at the nest and that's sufficient for the babies to feed. Who knew?

MsHellion said...

*HUGS* I'm so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. I know exactly what you mean about the surreal that surrounds a funeral...and the days that follow. It takes a while to adjust.

Pat Cochran said...

We lost our Dad forty-one years ago,
a month before his 60th birthday. It
was way too soon for us but time has
softened the pain of the loss. The
day will come when you will smile
through the tears as you remember the happy times with your Dad.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

MsHellion, the funeral was surreal. It was almost like an out-of-body experience, like I wasn't really there. But everyone is right, time has a way of dulling pain and shifting things into their proper places in the bigger scheme of things. That time just has to pass.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Pat, even though it's been a while, sorry about the loss of your dad.

Donna MacMeans said...

Trish -
Your post is a loving tribute to your father. I'm sure he's looking down and smiling. Sending hugs.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Donna.

Christie Kelley said...

Trish, again, I'm so sorry for you loss. I lost my dad 12 years ago. I'm so glad your father got to see you fulfill your dream to be a published author. Honestly, I think my dad's death helped push me to start writing. It made me realize life is too short so I need to go after my dream.

I'm so glad you have the bunnies to watch grow!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Christie. I'm a big believer in going for our dreams as soon as we can because we're not guaranteed tomorrow.

Caren Crane said...

Trish, it's so hard to lose your father. I lost mine in 1995 - he had just turned 58. It is always too soon and there is always more we wish we had said or done while we had the chance. It's wonderful that your dad got to see your success, though, and be proud of you! What a wonderful gift he left you in that. Love and hugs to you. Enjoy the bunnies!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks, Caren.

Gillian Layne said...

My deepest and heartfelt condolences, Trish. I think God sent me your way today after missing most of my on-line time for quite a while. I've been helping care for my father in law for the last few months, and he passed away last week. Memories are a great comfort. This was a lovely post.

Blessings,
Gillian

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Gillian, I'm so very sorry to hear about the recent loss of your father-in-law. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

Christina Brooke said...

Lovely post, Trish. I'm so sorry about your dad. What an amazing man.

Debra Key Newhouse said...

My deepest condolences on the loss of your father. What a lovely tribute and I admire your attitude! On the anniversary of my dad's passing, we blow bubbles to heaven, filled with wishes. The family is spread out all over the place, but we all do it at the same time, so it feels like we're together. Just a thought.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. And I love the picture of the baby bunnies!

Tami Brothers said...

Thank you, Trish, for sharing this very personal story with us. You and your family are definitely in my prayers.

Tami