Dad, you left life 34 years ago today. Way too young. I can say that not only because it is true, but because today, for a few more hours, I am the exact age that you were when you died. And I feel so young.
We knew you would be leaving us. The precious cadence of breathing was painfully difficult. Your soldier’s strength, withered and fatigued. And your quick and sharp mind acquiesced to the fade of memory and the struggle to grasp the moments around you.
The ironies sweep like a murmuration of flyers whose spirits mock the phrase, “Rest in Peace” and spend their days in playful heavenly dogfights. The night you passed, I was taking an evening break from the hospital watch. Home for dinner and to be with a gathering of friends who brought goodies and comfort as we knew the loss ahead and, at the same time hoped to offer birthday wishes and even a moment of celebration of life.
Later in the evening, unexpectedly, but not surprisingly, my brother-in-law knocked and entered my home.
There were tears. Bowed heads in prayer. Whispered curses. Deep inhales and exhales as if ready for a leap into something unknown and unwelcome. And silence. My birthday would follow within hours of your passing. But, just a few feet down the hall, sound asleep in her crib, was Chelsea. Brand new to this world. She joined us only 19 days before this one. I walked to her bedroom and listened to her quick little breaths. They were soft and rhythmic and almost prayerful. Her eyes were peacefully closed. I imagined you in peace. With the heartbreak of losing you, Providence reminded me that where life ends, life begins.
I knew birthdays would forever really suck as April 12 would be full of memories and a sense of loss. But, I have Chelsea there to remind me of the moments you held her before telling us goodbye. Your words, “You be a good little girl. I love you.”
And then, as if Providence had not completed her work, and God was not finished reminding me of the imperfect and beautifully temporal nature of this world, Logan was born on April 14 two years later. Those “mysterious ways” reveal the beauty of life in the midst of great sorrow. So, here I sit, I am exactly the age you were on the same day when you left us and filed a new Flight Plan. And it was at this moment in the evening when you closed your eyes and flew.
I raise my glass of Scotch and toast you, to life, to the sweetness of its gifts, and to what’s next. I love you.
2 thoughts on “Birthday’s Murmuration of Ironies”
Sean, what an incredibly beautiful tribute to your father, and life itself.
Hello, Allie. So nice to hear from you. Thank you.