Today, is the second year anniversary of my dad’s death. This is a day I have dreaded all year. February fourteenth is a day I wish never existed. The last two years have brought with them many tears and overwhelming moments of anguish.
I have had much time to think about what I should do on the anniversary of my dad’s death. Should I lock myself in my bedroom, cry all day or reflect on all the things I miss about him? These are all extremely tempting, but they don’t celebrate his life; they only commemorate his death.
What would my dad want us to do, to celebrate his life? Here’s my fantasy: I would rent a house in Montecito, his ultimate retreat. I would invite all of his family—he would have wanted that. We would start the day at the Santa Barbara harbor, followed by an afternoon at the zoo, ending with dinner at his favorite restaurant. We wouldn’t be sad; we would reminisce and be thankful for all the memories he left us. We would laugh, we would cry.
To celebrate means to observe a day with ceremonies of respect, festivity or rejoicing. Grief can be so overwhelming that we forget to celebrate what is left behind. We don’t remember the good times because it causes too much pain. We aren’t thankful for the short time we had; we are only bitter that it didn’t last longer.
These are all normal reactions to loss, but not ones my dad would have wanted for us. His life was about living, about laughing, about loving. He cherished every second. To wallow in self-pity was not his style. He celebrated every day, so why shouldn’t we? I want to celebrate the legacy he left us. My children should know how much he adored them. I can teach them to have his outlook on life. I can tell them stories so they understand who their grandfather was.
If I died tomorrow, I know my family would be sad, but I hope they would show me respect by rejoicing over what I left behind. My legacy is the memories I have created. Those will continue indefinitely. My dad will be the great-great-grandpa of some future generation. They will exist because of him, and maybe, if the stories have been passed down, they will still celebrate his life.
How do you celebrate life? What legacy will you leave? Please feel free to share your experience.
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