This past weekend, I celebrated the life of my father. He passed away a week ago and the void he leaves behind is enormous, but one his memory will fill with time. I was fortunate to spend time with him before he died, quality time, meaningful time, and it is without regret or words unspoken that he moves on.
Throughout the course of his funeral service, I was struck by the number of lives he touched during his seventy-six years. Born with a defect in his heart — Tetralogy of Fallot, also known as Blue Baby Syndrome — my father wasn’t supposed to live beyond the age of ten. It was a prognosis his mother would not accept and searched relentlessly for a doctor that would help her son. Her determination was rewarded when she found Dr. Alfred Blalock. A pioneer of modern-day cardiac surgery, his innovative methods saved my father’s life–and are depicted in the movie, Something the Lord Made. Dr. Blalock was the miracle my grandmother had been praying for. His success also proved to be inspiration for my father’s lifelong career as a Cardiothoracic Surgeon.
As I listened to the many tributes to my father, heartfelt comments shared by friends and family, I was struck by the incredible outpouring of love and gratitude. I couldn’t help but think about my own mortality and what it means. Personally, I feel there is a very fine line between the physical and the spiritual. I haven’t lost many people close to me, save for my father’s mother, so my experience is limited, yet despite her passing, I’ve felt her presence in my life in very real ways throughout the years. I expect the same will hold true with my father. When you share a special connection with someone, it can never be broken. In fact, I’ve already received several signs from him to reassure me of this truth.
And while I mourn his physical presence, I celebrate his memory. He lived life to the fullest and taught his children to do the same. Fear nothing, experience everything and love deeply. It is this lesson that I take with me going forward. Focus on making connections from the heart, do not succumb to fear, and try everything (most everything!) once. I will embrace this thing called life, and I will love those with whom I share it. It is the connections we make here on earth that carry us beyond.