02 July 2010

Moving Forward With The Obi Wan Effect

As busy as I was this week with arrangements for my father's funeral service, there is something incredibly  therapeutic about putting down words that helps to relieve some of the loss. It is difficult internalizing everything—at least for me—and trying to make sense of it all.

One thing is for sure, those of us who have lost a parent understand how difficult this is. I liken the experience to a first-time parent. Before having children, everyone tells you that your life is going to change, that you will never understand the capacity to love another human being until you have a child of your own. I know that is true for me. I understood for the first time just how much my parents love, and had sacrificed for me when Alaina and I welcomed Luca into this world. I specifically remember one remark a college professor made to me in graduate school after I commented on what a beautiful picture of his children he had on his office bookshelf. "Yeah, it's crazy, you would step in front of a train for them." When Alaina was pregnant with Julian, I almost felt guilty thinking how could I possibly love another child just as much as Luca, but I do. I love each one of my children equally and appreciate their uniqueness, and special gifts that each bring to our lives that enrich them.

The realization that my father will not physically be present in my life is still sinking in. It still feels very surreal. I don't think anyone who has not experienced the loss of a parent can truly appreciate just how difficult it is. You join a special fraternity on that day—one in which we will all ultimately become part of.

I would look to my father for guidance for just about everything. Suddenly, I am forced to live my life making decisions based on what I think my father's guidance would have been. I am thankful that my children all had the opportunity to stay over his house and spend time with him the last couple weeks he was here. What is amazing about the whole process, is that suddenly, some things become very apparent. Lessons that you thought you understood, now hit home with a clarity and realization that seem more profound. Family is the most important thing in our lives. No greater evidence is needed than having an older generation of extended family around that can empathize with our family.

Even though my father is not present on Earth,  I have already experienced a great deal of the 'ole Jedi experience that Luke shared with Obi Wan and Master Yoda. I was out for an OWS (open water swim) on Wednesday. The water was quite choppy. I could hear my father's voice, helping me along. He speaks to me and I answer as if him because I know he is with me. I swam the buoys as I do every time I go out for an OWS. When I got to the turnaround, I said "Okay papa, help me motor back." I could see him nod and give and a Hmmm... you really learned how to swim pretty decently look on his face. You know, with the bottom lip slightly protruding. Body language is incredible, isn't it?

Thanks to all of my blogger friends who have shared their condolences, both publicly and privately. It was so wonderfully uplifting to me and my family.

Needless to say, the training has been quite inconsistent this week. I fit in a run here, a swim there. It's okay. Life happens. Amazingly, I just won an entrance into the Rev 3 triathlon at Cedar Point on my friend Kelly's blog! It has been a whirlwind week full of emotions. Thanks for having this drawing Kelly. I am super excited. I guess I ought to start ramping up the training, huh?

Nine days until the Musselman HIM. Super excited about the race and the Arts Triathlon beforehand. More on that soon.

Train Smart!


Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) said...

Mark, I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your father was a wonderful man. I loved your Obi Wan moment in the water. I have no doubt that your father was with you during your swim. Please know that you are in my thoughts.

Kovas Palubinskas said...

How powerful that you feel your father still with you! Glad you are coping and continuing your training and congrats on the Rev3 win!

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

He will always be with you. I really believe that. I find myself having conversations with my parent's on my super early morning runs. I think about the things they used to say and somehow, it makes more sense as I've gotten older. I know it always helps me get thru things when I'm having a rough time.
I will say this, trying to stay focused on my training really helped me deal with losing my Mom and Dad. Don't think I would have held up well without my running and biking. Take care Mark.

64 CLASSIC said...

We went through a VERY difficult period of several months with my father during fall of 2008 following an open heart surgery. This included a very difficult stint in a nursing home.

He pulled through it and is still with us but is struggling GREATLY with very advanced emphysema. Not fun stuff.

I know soon that I will be going through what you are experiencing. I thank you for putting everything into words that you have. I've thought about you and your father and your relationship.... and and it has helped me to think of all of the great things that my father has meant to me.

God Bless you and your family as you go through this difficult time.

Stephen said...

Mark, great post! The short time we all spent together had a profound impact on my view of family. The brief pause on everyday life allowed me to re-align priorities and develop a deeper appreciation for family, friends, and life in general. It was a difficult yet grounding experience.

Best of luck in your training and all the best to your family!

See you soon.