(my father in front of our family chapel in Quebec, Canada)
Last week my father passed away in peace and serenity. He was diagnosed with a rare combination of blood diseases, as well as a heart condition a month ago. Among all the roller-coaster emotions I have felt during this time, the strangest feeling I experienced, after his last breath, was Joy. All I could do was smile and close his eyes…at that very moment. I was puzzled by my own reaction.
Don’t think for a moment that I was happy he passed away. On the contrary, as all friends and family know, we were each other’s best friends and very close. Together, we shared everything. Having left Canada 30 years ago, we worked hard on our relationship. Skype has been the umbilical cord to my parents so whenever we met up together, there was less pressure to talk all at once. We enjoyed “being in the moment.” I look forward to continue “being” with my mother as much as I can.
This last week, my inbox was flooded with an unexpected amount of condolences and memory sharing. In addition, a few emails shared their regrets. Regrets they had with their own parents around unresolved issues, managing expectations, simply lack of better communication. Till this day, they continue to carry this “bad feeling” with them.
Communication is the #1 issue I come across in all my work, as well as in my own personal life. All issues no matter what they are, always come down to how we communicate, what is said and especially what is not said. Good communication is ongoing, hard work. It must not to be taken for granted. Communication is not easy for everyone but it is a skill that can be learnt, at any age – you have to be open to it.
After the emails and phone calls, I began to understand the reason I was puzzled at the Joy I first felt. For the past years, my father and I had nothing left hanging, nothing left unsaid and no regrets. We were completely at peace with each other. Serenity is what we always worked for. This is the last gift we gave each other.
Now, one week later, I feel the grief, the tears, the emptiness and the sadness which I imagine will last quite a long time. That gift though…I will cherish forever, with a smile.
(c) 2017 Anna Jankovich, all rights reserved.