The varnished floor gleamed in the quiet room, reflecting flickering candles set at select corners of the labyrinth. About 10 people sat in a semi circle around one side of the labyrinth. We came in late, and people leaped up to get us chairs. We were welcomed by the facilitator, who then proceeded to suggest how we might all go about this walking meditation on all soul’s night.
I was worried that I would not be able to control my emotions if I participated. What would happen if I started sobbing aloud? Nevertheless, I got up and joined the others walking slowly on the small, painted, twisting paths. The other people were distracting, but quickly became part of the whole experience – other seekers on their journey.
I was thinking about my dad. He’s been gone more than twenty years, now. He would finally be truly an old man of 78 this year, had he survived. It made me laugh when I found myself shuddering at one woman’s shawl with a fringe, despite the fact that it came nowhere close to the flames, because it could ignite — I laughed because I remembered how much candlelit services made him cringe. And I knew he was always part of me, his humour and his foibles.
I remembered other things as I walked, and I talked, in my head, to him about what life was like for me now. When I reached the centre, I stood, soon shoulder-to-shoulder with my two good friends who had accompanied me. That felt good. I told him that I did have good friends now. And of course, my two wonderful girls.
When Dad first died, I was angry that he left me with Mom. He was never supposed to go first. That eventually faded. After all, how long can you stay mad at someone for something they never meant to do? But I was deeply saddened by the fact that he would never know my children, if I was ever lucky enough to have some, and they would never know him. As I walked, I realised that had he lived, I might never have stayed with my Beloved Husband – and thus never had our fabulous girls. Maybe losing him when I did was how it had to be.
And then I noticed something else. I had thought that I would be symbolically letting go of Dad this night, giving myself permission to move on, but, instead, I found myself reassuring him that I was OK, I’d be alright, and he could move on.
Being a parent now, I knew how hard it would be for me to leave my girls, and I appreciated that I somehow needed to make sure he knew all I had gained from him. I am well taken care of, grown and capable. Even though I miss him, I am forever grateful.