What the death of my father taught me about forgiveness
In December, my father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and at that time I was needed by him as well as the family to help explain what was happening, how cancer invades the body, as well as the mind and directly affects one’s spirit.
My father was an engineer by trade. His home office was filled with books upon books, blueprints of missiles, graphs and charts for structural analysis, and it all looked like a foreign language as far as I ever saw. In the second grade, I asked my dad to help me with my math homework. It was a simple second grade level equation that I needed help with to turn into the teacher thew next day. After a few very long hours and nearly ten pages of mathematical equations for this simple 2nd grade level problem, he said “here you go… this is the answer to this math problem….” . I was horrified at that moment, every 2nd grade brain cell was spent and I dreaded having to face my teacher and the other kids in class when I had to turn it in.
This sums up my relationship with my dad. To say that it was horrible would be a gross understatement. I grew up always wanting to have a relationship with him and I was always disappointed and hurt at the outcome, no matter how hard I tried. Plain and simple… it sucked.
The Bible teaches to honor your mother and father. I did that to the best of my ability the majority of the time. I witnessed and endured things from my father that no child should ever have to endure. His behavior was incomprehensible to me up until his death.
I understood very little about my dad, but knew a lot about the behavior dynamics that resulted from his life and how his behavior was a cancer to his family. At times this behavioral cancer was fast growing and aggressive and at other times it would lie dormant until a situation presented itself.
Growing up this way, I accepted this. I actually thought this was normal. It wasn’t until I saw my friends interact with their dad’s and family members that I realized something was drastically wrong…. but I convinced myself nonetheless, this was relatively normal. I forced myself into believing that the horrible events that the entire family endured was to be blamed on each of us respectively.
In other words, I believed that (In my case) I brought it all on myself and worst still, that every family has these types of skeletons in their proverbial closet.
Years of therapy taught me the opposite of what I was forced into believing.
Life went on, and I eventually moved out and went to college. He told me I would never be welcome in the home again to live after that. I was 18, and I thought ” well, perhaps this is a little harsh, but not a big deal. I don’t plan on ever being in close proximity to this man ever again”.
I married and divorced and lived in several places. I had a child, I joined the Military and deployed, and had several educational and personal accomplishments. Not once did I ever miss my dad or look back with a single fond memory.
I accepted him for who he was and I understood that I was responsible for my life regardless of what I was brought up believing and thinking. I diligently worked at self improvement from the moment I left home, to change belief systems that were toxic to my growth as a young and now older adult. I strived to be the exact opposite of him in every aspect that remotely resembled him. I no longer hated him, I was ambivalent toward him.
I view this sort of ambivalence as perhaps the worst emotion to ever feel towards another human being. It’s a numbing that goes deep to the core of one’s humanity. It says to me that this person is not deserving of any emotion.
In hatred, there is fear, depression, unresolved pain and emotional trauma. In love, there is a lightness of spirit, happiness and thoughts of wellbeing. The gradient in between are remnants of each with ambivalence being right in the middle.
I moved to the state where my parents were living not long before my dad’s cancer diagnosis. As much as I enjoyed time spent with my family, my dad was there to remind me of why I left and never looked back in his direction. Having a background in medicine and holistic health, and practiced as an herbalist, I knew my family needed me , and the adage “there are no coincidences” seemed to ring true.
I went to the Dr. with my dad when he received his definitive diagnosis of lung cancer. The look on his face upset me. I felt compassion toward him as a human being. I realized that regardless of who he was to me, he was still a human being that was just delivered a plate of hot, steaming, shit on a silver platter and that he was going to be in for a great deal of suffering. I did my best to interpret all medical lingo to him so he could have some dignity with his suffering (if there is such a thing).
SUFFERING HAS NO DIGNITY
As days passed, his cancer was staged after his preliminary test. Stage 4 with mets to other organs, including the other lung. It wasn’t long before he began a very aggressive chemotherapy protocol.
I remember asking my dad,” What do you want from this?” My dad answered with the equivalent to my second grade math homework. He was trying to apply structural analysis to this human condition and somehow was able to extricate himself from this equation.
Denial is one thing, fighting is another…. yes…. but this was far out of the scope of either.
My dad was given roughly 6-18 months to live with the rate and staging of his cancer growth.
He lived for 3 months after is diagnosis.
Once again, he was given a death sentence on a silver platter, at a time when the chemo was getting the better of him, he was losing weight on his 6 foot frame where his bones were protruding from places I have never seen on him. My dad was quite heavy growing up and prior to his diagnosis he was a healthy appearing 200 lbs give or take.
Again, I attempted to have a conversation with my dad about his wishes, factors that helped and hurt is quality of life, his right to have dignity in his remaining days as well as a number of other topics to help him connect his mind, body, and spirit. My dad said to me…”Becky, I have no regrets in life, not with my life or my family or anything I have done.”
This was a kick right in the solar plexus… not just a kick, more like a throat punch with an added boot in the butt.
DEATH IS THE CROWN OF LIFE
I paused, took a deep breath and said, “well, ok dad.” We then began in the next sentence to talk about his fear of death. His wish was to be cremated 72 hours after his passing, as he feared being buried alive. He read books upon books of what happens when we die, biblical texts of the prophets, and dietary books. I talked to him about my near death experiences and told him..”well dad, there is no true fear for those that are saved”. True fear… not to be confused with symptomatic fear; meaning, if you and your conscious are one, when the silver cord parts and you meet your Divine Creator, I call God, there is only life after life here on Earth. This seemed to stump him. Perhaps because I was talking about God?, fears?, all of the above? He had me repeat it a few times, as though having difficulty with the concept.
Despite my history with my dad, I had compassion for him as a human being. I made herbal remedies and teas to combat the effects of chemo. I helped devise a nutritional plan for weight gain, and overall health so he would be healthy enough to fight, I helped out however and whenever I was needed (and even when I was not).
My dad argued with me about every little and big thing I did for him. He scrutinized and picked apart my words, the herbal preparations with ingredients and directions that I printed out for him. I gave him resources, books and website links so he could verify for his own peace of mind, so he could understand the benefits of specific ingredients, how things were made, medical explanations etc…. His continued arguing was used as a sort of scapegoat to release his emotions and fears and displace them on and at me.
Realizing the extent of who he was and what he was going through, I bit my tongue and persevered unselfishly. To be clear, this isn’t to show what I did for him; rather, to show the tremendous strain having to fight for his life took on him, the family, and lastly, that compassion has the ability to override personalities in needed circumstances.
My family was frazzled and weary. I simply did what “family ” does in circumstances such as this. I helped where I could, explained and translated medical and dietary terminology, made meals, helped with house duties and held the space for whatever emotions were being forced upon them that particular day/month.
After just 2 chemotherapy treatments, my dad was admitted into the ICU for sepsis. He had other short hospitalizations, but this time he was septic. The Dr began talking to him about palliative care and quality of life factors. His prognosis was grim, but after the better part of a week, he started feeling better, became belligerent and argumentative , and left the hospital before his discharge. He returned home. Days/ weeks passed and his health rapidly declined. Despite all he was going through, he was incapable of connecting his human condition to his intellect. His depersonalized his cancer. He charted absolutely everything he did with graphs and charts that were nothing short of scientific.
He was scheduled to have a chemo port placed as his venus access was nil. I explained to him what this was, and how the procedure was done. I even sent videos so he had a general idea of what to expect.
Again, my dad began to argue with me to no avail. I found myself getting upset. I finally spoke up but it had no impact on him whatsoever. I stopped myself from getting angry and I said,” You know what, dad? this arguing back and forth is ridiculous and I’m not going to have this conversation with you anymore… it’s not helpful to either one of us.” He continued to argue about not arguing!
I was angry and attempted to leave but he stood up and tried to hug me. This is his passive aggressive trait that used to confuse me when I was younger, but I eventually learned he did this to maintain the upper hand. I told him I was not about to hug him and I left the house and drove the long way home with the dog until I cooled off.
This was the last time I saw and/or spoke to my dad.
The night before his passing, I was meditating and I clearly saw my dad being taken out of his home and put into the ambulance. I knew then, he was going to die.
The next morning I received a telephone call from my brother confirming the events I saw in my vision. My dad had a heart attack and refused to call 911 at the onset of pain. He was also in respiratory failure. He died after being transferred to a larger hospital with a better equipped surgical abilities.
While was driving to the hospital I received a call from my Aunt telling me my father died and to not bother going to the hospital.
I WAS TRULY AMBIVALENT.
I felt nothing. Not sadness, not happiness, not even anger.
The following week was his funeral and cremation, and the beautiful outpouring of support given to the family. I listened to what people said about him at the funeral, and still, I felt nothing. While sitting in the front pew at the funeral service, I saw my dad lean down next to me and say “Goodbye Beck”.
My dad never accepted my gifted abilities, but here he was saying goodbye to me in the afterlife.
I was taken aback by this, but still felt nothing.
After I returned home from the funeral, my dad randomly began talking to me.
THIS made me angry. I felt violated all over again knowing that he could come and go in his afterlife and still make his voice heard. I was angry that I was unable to circumvent this as I have been able to do with others.
I refused to have any sort of conversation with him. Despite repeated requests to leave me alone, he continued to show up.
I wanted nothing to do with my dad. Not in life, and definitely not in his afterlife. For someone who is gifted with the abilities of clairvoyance and clairaudience to name but 2, I felt like I was his victim all over again. When he was alive, I had some semblance of control over my exposure to him, but in his death, I had no control whatsoever.
I asked God to please remove him from my life, to disallow me to hear or feel his presence, to get rid of him, but this only worked for short periods of time. I asked my dad if he was with God, and he clearly replied “No”.
Since he wasn’t leaving me alone, I told him what I truly thought of him, how I felt, and how his behaviors affected me in life. In summary, I refused to be his victim. I no longer had compassion. I spoke. I released. The rest I left to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to contend with.
Frequently in my work, the topic of forgiveness comes up. Messages from loved ones that are apologetic in nature with the theme of forgiveness to those seeking closure. I did not want closure with my dad. His death was all the closure I wanted. I grew tired of entertaining nonsensical conversations unless he was going to apologize to me for hurting me growing up.
Since my dad’s death, I have struggled with this. I forgave him (or so I thought) before I moved to the same state not long before his passing, only for this to stir up more complex emotions than I bargained for. I have yet to shed a tear at this point, but the truth of the matter is that ambivalence was self preservation.
I justified my lack of forgiveness with the fact that he never asked me to forgive him, nor did even say “I’m sorry” . The Bible says that Jesus asks us to model our forgiveness of others on the way God has forgiven us (Matthew 6:14-15). Perplexed by this, the next time my dad began to talk, it was about my forgiving him and trying to understand what specifically was holding both of us back.
While in prayer, I heard my dad’s voice interrupt me. This bothered me. “Why is this allowed, God?”, I asked. “Just listen” is what I heard next. My dad began to talk… and I did my best to listen until I realized my dad was still the same person in his afterlife. He went on ad nauseum about things of no relevance until I grew tired of going back and forth.
I point blank asked my dad if he was in the light with God to which he replied “no”. I began to pray again, this time ignoring my dad, asking God to help him get to where he needs to be, and to please help me be free of him.
My dad asked me why I was doing this and the words I spoke were “because I care more about your eternity than my ill feelings for you… but know that I hate you”; and then I began to cry.
I’m not sure why I was crying. Maybe it was because I told my dad how I felt? Maybe because I never express hatred or would dream of telling someone I hate them. It sounded horrible and harsh and completely uncharacteristic of who I am.
Maybe it was because I transitioned from a state of ambivalence, to a state of hatred; and then finally, a state of release and forgiveness.
YES, IT WAS THE SUM OF ALL THINGS
Forgiveness in this case was a bitter pill at the depths of my core. This depth of emotion I was not prepared for.
It’s so easy to talk about forgiveness, but in reality, it is often easier said than done. The transition of emotions was so prolific that I truly felt this was somehow being done for me; I believe that God intervened not just on my behalf, but on the behalf of my dad as well.
As days have passed since March 14th when my dad died, I have spent time talking to my dad. I am still not terribly comfortable or happy about this, but at the very least, he has begun to respect my boundaries. Telling him that I hated him really bothered me. Shocked that it even came out of my mouth, I have apologized.
My dad is not someone that I would want to receive a message from (as in a psychic/ mediumship session), nor is he someone I look to for fatherly advice or support. I know that my dad is now in the light with God and this alone is a comfort to me regardless of the life I experienced with him.
Truthfully, I have been blessed with the ability to turn all of the negatives I grew up with into positive behaviors and belief systems.
Because of my dad, I learned as a child how to stand on my own two feet. He taught me through experience, that the world was unsafe, so I developed ways to make my world safe.
The way I viewed my dad’s life was based on experiences I endured from him. I worked diligently on myself in order to be healthy, normal, and free. I learned early on to accept people for who and how they are, and that everyone has to live his or her life. Accountability lies within one’s self and their ability to gleen lessons in their afterlife.
I learned to discern who I am, what I want and don’t want in my life. I have never feared taking my own inventory to make changes, in order to live a productive life, with harmony and peace.
The art of growth transparency comes with enduring pain, trauma, hardship and the ever evolving understanding.
I have developed a greater understanding about the arduous journey that led me to ambivalence, while maintaining my ability to still have compassion for those that are suffering. Ambivalence was a gift that served me well; in life, in the military, and lastly with my dad at the end of his life.
Human suffering does not discriminate, but neither does compassion.
Last, but not least,
I learned to forgive my dad.