Today is the 8th anniversary of my father’s death. Dad has not only been on my mind today…I’ve been thinking of him all month. Memories have floated up into my consciousness. Funny or sad stories have been recalled. I miss my dad. I think of him every day.
The evening that I got a phone call, telling me that Dad was in the hospital and doctors had found a mass on his pancreas, I knew time was running out for him. He fought valiantly for two years and in the end the cancer won. However, I learned so much from my dad during that time, about living, about dying, about love.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to write this particular post tonight. The idea for it came to me this morning and stayed with me throughout the day, flickering in and out of my awareness. This story is on the fringe of what people can believe, or accept. However as I prepared to write, I did a simple thing. I asked my dad, Is this the post to write tonight? Should I share these stories? The unmistakable answer was Yes. And Dad even gave me the title for this piece.
The truth is, in my experience, death is not the end. It is a transition and the soul continues on. These beliefs are more than teachings or suppositions for me…they are my reality. I have been visited all my life by loved ones who have passed on. And so, these are some of my favorite stories about my dad, after he made that transition. His love endures.
My first experience with my father in spirit happened the day he died. I had seen my dad two days before, with Greg and our children and grandchildren accompanying me. My sisters and I had made plans to spend the night with our dad and stepmom on Wednesday, to spend some time with him. But on the Sunday before, I took my family to see Dad. As I sat, holding his hand and talking quietly, I knew he only had a few days left. Not weeks, as his hospice care givers said. Days.
On Tuesday, I awoke feeling extremely restless. I skipped a sales meeting at the office and paced from room to room at home. When my younger sister called, to say Dad was slipping away and might not last through the night, I was not surprised. I hurriedly packed a bag, and left for Tulsa…an hour and a half drive away.
My niece and sister sent updates via text, which were increasingly urgent. I was speeding down I 44, clicking off the miles. Twenty minutes away from my dad’s house, I suddenly felt very strange. Energy pressed against my chest and then passed through, leaving me slightly disoriented and feeling disconnected from my body. I glanced at the clock in the car, noting the time. And then very clearly I heard my father’s voice. Sissy, it’s okay. Slow down.
I knew what had happened. My dad had just slipped into the spirit world. He always called me Sissy. And he was telling me there was no need to drive so fast. I felt numb and yet comforted too, to feel his presence so strongly. When I arrived at my dad’s, my sister Debbie met me in the yard, crying. Dad had died, at the time I had my experience.
Another visit from my dad occurred a short time later, when my sisters and I spent the night at his house, while our stepmom traveled out of state. I could share many interesting details from that night…unusual noises and odd behavior from my dad’s dog…but the sense that Dad was present came after we retired for the night. My sisters shared a bedroom while I slept alone. I lay in bed, eyes closed but awake, thinking about my dad. I heard a pop and then a sizzling sound, like the crackle of electricity. Opening my eyes I saw a pillar of bright white light next to the bed. The sizzling sound was emanating from the light. I felt curiosity rather than fear. In a few moments the light and sound faded away. I felt like my dad had been standing there, watching me, sending me love. The next morning I learned one of my sisters had seen a white light in her room as well.
On the first birthday that I celebrated after my dad died, I keenly felt his absence. My dad always called each of his children on his or her birthday. I knew I would not be receiving a call this year. Lying awake, after midnight, thinking about that call that was not going to come, I heard a loud crash…inside my closet! I was startled by that, and chose not to investigate in the dark of night. However, the next morning I remembered the noise and carefully opened the closet door. On the floor within the closet was a pile of items, things that had belonged to my dad that I had brought home after his death. I had placed those things high up on a shelf and they were the only things that fell. I smiled. It appeared my dad had “called” on my birthday after all!
Likewise, I was missing my dad very much on the first Father’s Day without him. I strongly associate motorcycles with Dad, as he owned a variety of them throughout his life. Driving home that Sunday afternoon, I asked my dad to send motorcycles by as a sign from him that he was near. I was almost home, so I figured Dad wouldn’t have time to set up this form of saying hello. I stopped at a red light, at an intersection half a block from home, and watched in amazement as motorcycles pulled up on each street in the intersection…across from me, to the right and to the left.
As I grinned, I heard another motorcycle approaching. A yellow one pulled up right next to me. This one made me cry. A young girl, about 10 years old, rode behind the driver, a man whom I assumed to be her father. I rode behind my dad often, as a child, as a teen, and a few times as an adult. Surrounded by motorcycles I felt such love, such gratitude for my father, mingled with grief and sadness.
I have had many visits from my dad since his death. I’ve even felt protected by him. When the 2011 tornado churned through my neighborhood, destroying it, Greg and I crouched in a closet, listening as windows broke all over the house and debris thudded against the walls. I felt like we might die as the intensity of the storm increased and the house began to lift from its foundation. An incredible peace overcame us. I sensed loved ones in spirit near.
Shortly after the tornado, I dreamed about that day. In the dream my dad appeared, pushing us into the closet and helping me to close the door, just as a 2×4 piece of lumber came crashing through the window. Dad stood guard outside the door. When I woke from that dream I recalled that a 2×4 did indeed come through the window just as I pulled the closet door closed. I have no doubts that my dad was standing guard as the storm raged.
Dad has helped me find things, prompted me to take particular actions, makes my chin tingle with energy when he’s near…like right now. I miss his hugs and kisses. I miss calling him on the phone and hearing his laughter. And yet, I know he visits often. I talk to him and then wait for his response, which comes by way of signs, or through songs, or as a tingle of energy that brushes against my hair. Occasionally I hear his voice.
I know that stories like these are difficult for some to believe. But if they bring hope and peace and comfort to others who have lost a loved one, then I don’t mind the naysayers. Our loved ones in spirit are closer than we think. I trust my own experiences. And I trust my dad. And I trust his enduring love for me and my siblings, my stepmom and our families. I love you Dad. Thank you for continuing to be a part of my life.