Today. Today marks two years since you took your last breath.
At 4:27 this afternoon, it will be exactly two years.
Dad, I felt the urge to run to you yesterday. Much like the urge I felt back in kindergarten. There was a bit of magic in that run from the school bus to the house, feet going with all the speed my little hushpuppies could muster.
Thirty years later, and I'd give anything to sneak up our broccoli green living room stairs to find you. Up, up, up six mighty big stairs, holding my breath with anticipation. I knew you would jump out to surprise me. I knew I would screech regardless. It was our routine. It ended with us running in circles around each other until you picked me up and listened to me gush over the stickers I had earned.
So here's the deal, Dad. I miss you. I miss you in so many different ways. But mostly I miss you being here to witness all that has gone on. You were the biggest proponent of education I know, so it seems only fitting that I yearn to share with you all I have learned since your passing. I have taken some of the biggest courses life has to offer and I want you to see my stickers. They're not scratch n' sniff, not fuzzy or furry or bubbly. But they glow. All nine stickers really glow.
Sticker One: I saw an anemone in an aquarium in Florida. I gazed at it and felt my spirit shake. I gazed at it the same way I gazed at the exposed roots of an old banyon tree the night before. My spirit shook then, too. I'm not sure what exactly happened in these gazing contests with life, but during them, it felt like you were whispering to me. Whispering and reminding me how fantastically huge and glorious every living creature is. And then there there were those itty bitty details on that sea-dragon!!! Damn little thing brought tears to gazing! How does all this gazing gain a sticker? I have earned and learned that there is dramatic beauty in this world when my eyes are open enough to see it. After all I have faced in the past two years, I am now gazing more intently than ever. Being deeply awake. Sticker One.
Sticker Two: There are some things that logic and/or science can not explain or ever define for me. I realized this after trying endlessly to make sense of things that just seemed too big for the human brain to patent. These are the things that have changed me, that charge me, and keep my soul buzzing with electricity. Forever. They are the signs that remind me there's so much more than the 9-5, the impressive house, the fancy car, the latest trends, the television. Yes, Dad...there IS so much more than that boobtube. I now pay serious attention to these signs-I welcome, honor, and feel grateful for them. Maybe this is part of sticker one too? It seems big enough to hold its own. Awareness. Sticker Two.
Sticker Three: I got a new kidney. I got a second chance at life. Everyone here got more quality time with me. The glory of a second chance may be the most beautiful thing I've ever known...and I'm trying quite hard to make sense and make the most of it. This sticker was made possible by someone I met just weeks after your passing. I truly believe you had a hand in sending her my way. Miracles don't happen without the aid of an angel, and I really believe you tickled time and space to bring us together. If you already don't, you would love her. She has a welcoming soul like mom, and her warmth and goodness radiate. I'm more alive than I've ever been. Alive. Sticker Three.
Sticker Four: I learned to reduce the bull****! I accepted that I (we as humans) have very little control over things (how does one not accept this when one's health is deteriorating before one's eyes and there is very little one could do?) I started to understand what's really worth my time and what's really not worth my time. I suppose it's the art of letting go? I'm still working on my brush strokes, but I realized the need to do so on a gut level after losing you and facing my own mortality. Life, in every cliché way, is too damn short to care what other people think. I am working to delicately protect myself from bull**** and gently call it when I see it. In EVERY circle of my life. Even with the doctors, Dad. Just last month during a procedure, I gently shouted at the urologist, 'you're not in my urethra, you're in my vagina!' I did so with rich confidence, Dad. I know my body. He obviously did not. I needed to help him help me. The bottom line: bullshit hurts, and the less I have to deal with, the better. Sticking up for myself with grace. And guts. Sticker Four.
Sticker Five: I learned some of my family may read this, and some will never read the first sentence. Regardless, I love them all. I'm at peace with knowing stuff like that. Peace. Sticker Five.
Sticker Six: Love is unavoidable. The key is being open to it. And being a mindful driver with it, along with all the cars that share your road. It also takes knowing which cars are healthy and good for you, and staying in a lane full of them. Find love. Plaster it all around you. Sticker Six.
Sticker Seven: Only a thin veil keeps me from the space where you exist. I don't know what that means, but it became my truth days before the transplant and my reality the night following it. I was so potently aware of the fragility of life then, and that awareness will always stay with me. Vulnerability. Sticker Seven.
Sticker Eight: I am engaged. To a very special woman. Together, we have a dynamic life and home. We have two dogs and two cats and lots of fish. She has been by my side since your passing, and promised from day one to offer me the most flexible love she could. She is courageous and she is driven (she must be knowing the complexity that exists in loving and understanding someone like me.) We have a HOME, Dad. I don't really know how you would have embraced this if you were alive. I do hope in passing, love becomes the most important aspect in having lived...regardless of surface details. Love. Sticker Eight.
Sticker Nine: Faith. I don't know where you are. I don't know if you hear me when I talk to you in my car. Or when I'm unable to fall asleep and ask for your guidance. Or when I say hello to you when the sun graces me with warmth. I don't know if you hear me. But, I BELIEVE you do. I wrote this believing it. I had to. And I have to believe that somehow, somewhere you are going to read it. After you get done checking the grammar, of course. I know you're somewhere, and you will feel proud of the growth in these words. And you will feel the love that radiates for you. This perhaps is the most important sticker earned. Faith. Sticker Nine.
I know there's more stickers. Many many more. But nine felt like a good number to close with.
I miss you, Ronald Rogers. I miss your smile and your wisdom and the strong faith you sought in us...faith in ourselves, in humanity, in God.
Two years without you has become two years of keeping you alive within me.