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Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Gift of Another Day

For seven years after my mother passed away I had a rather tenuous relationship with my Dad.

I was so angry.  

I was angry at my Dad for getting married so soon after she died.  I was angry at God for taking my mother when I still needed her.  I was angry at my Mom for dying.

Angry, angry, angry.

I pushed my Dad away, I found reasons to fight with him.  I distanced myself from him.

I thought maybe if I kept my Dad at arms length it wouldn't hurt so much if I lost him too.

It didn't work.

The only thing it did was add to my bitterness and anger.

Years later, when I lost the tunnel vision of my youth and began to see life's bigger picture, I realized that my Dad's new relationship didn't negate the feelings he had for my mother.  Instead, it showed how important being in a committed relationship had been to him. My Dad has been married for fifty-eight years of his life.

Father Daughter Dance
On my wedding night, during our father daughter dance as he whisked me around the dance floor he cried and said he was sorry for the hurt I felt when he got remarried.  He explained through his tears how much my mother had meant to him, that marrying again didn't mean he didn't love her.  I cried too and told him I understood now.  I had just married my best friend and couldn't imagine facing life alone.

I forgave him and I forgave myself for all those lost years.  I chose to love him the way he had been loving me in spite of my flaws and hurtful actions, unconditionally.

In the past six months as I have spent hours at my Dad's side I've learned more about him than in my whole life.  I'm learning just how much he and I have in common.  I'm also learning, as he sets new goals to live past certain dates that he is one of the strongest and yet most gentle people I've ever known.

I'm thankful he didn't write me off when I pushed him away.

I can't get those years back, but I can make the most of every minute I have with him now, the quiet ones, the ones when our eyes spill with tears, and even the ones filled with laughter--his sense of humour has remained a constant throughout this whole ordeal.

This week  my Dad will celebrate his seventy-eighth birthday, no doubt with a smile on his face for the gift of another day.

This life we are gifted is exactly that a gift.  What we do with it and the people in it is up to us.  We can hold on to anger and bitterness and leave hurts unforgiven but the person we're really hurting when we do that is ourselves.

So, I challenge you to search your heart, who have you left unforgiven?  Who remains at arms length in your life? Find the courage to forgive, to let go.

....life is too short.

While you have the gift of another day, use it wisely.