Remembrance happens every day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On the calendar hanging beside my computer, it says Sun., Nov. 11, 2012 is Remembrance Day. I know it is a day set aside to remember and honor all of the veterans who served and are still serving our country.

However, for me it took on a different meaning 10 years ago. It was just past midnight, barely into the new day, Nov. 11, 2002, when the phone rang. Through a mist of sleep I heard Mother’s voice.

“Daddy is gone,” she said.

I felt my breath catch in my throat.

“He’s gone,” she said again.

What I said to her I don’t remember. I do remember when I hung up the phone, my husband put his arms around me and I stood in the circle of his embrace repeating the words in my head, “Daddy is gone.”

The days immediately after that are a blur, but one memory that is crystal clear. It is a picture of all of the family, my mother, my sisters and brothers and me, gathered in the living room of the home where we grew up.

We sat in kind of a circle. The minister who would speak at Daddy’s funeral was with us. I don’t recall how it started, but one by one, we began telling stories about Daddy and about different experiences we shared. There was a lot of laughter, some tears and an incredible feeling of sweetness.

Later, at the graveside service, the preacher said that the real service took place the day before in that living room. I always liked that he said that because that is what I felt.

Now, years have come and gone, but I know his spirit is not gone. The oddest things let me know that his energy is around me. It might be a phrase that pops into my head unexpectedly.

“Morning glory, what’s the story?” I’ll hear like a whisper in my ear those words Daddy used to wake me up for school so many mornings.

Or, I’ll hear “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and think of him playing it on his harmonica. Other times, it’s a story that surfaces in my mind. Daddy was a storyteller and especially loved the ones that were funny. I always smile and say a silent “thank you Daddy,” when I remember one of his stories that makes me laugh.

The other day I had one of those moments, one of those times that I knew Daddy was sending me a little hello, a small reminder that he is as much with me now as he was when he was alive — even if I don’t physically see him or hear his voice.

I had a message from a friend who recently lost her dad. I sent her an email sympathy note and she sent me back an expression of appreciation for the note. I was thinking about her and about the anniversary of my own father’s death when I read something online that I knew was for me in that particular moment. The lines were from a Rumi poem.

So, this Sunday on Remembrance Day, I’ll remember that morning 10 years ago when I heard the words, “Daddy is gone,” but I’ll also think about the message in the lines of that poem, a message I know came straight from my father’s heart to mine.

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes… because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.” Rumi