I light the paper. Soon enough the kindling catches fire. Smoke swirls around the firepit and lifts up into the sky. I watch as I wonder, “What does it mean to accept my father’s death and let him go?”
As I sit down, I notice the contradictions pulling inside of me. Parts of me want to hold on to him, anchoring into memories whilst other parts tell me to let him go and support his ascent from the physical mortal world, up into the world of light.
I want what’s best for my father.
Atheists believe that consciousness ends at death. That there is no more self after that so deal with your own grief. There is nothing more you can do for the one who has died. They say that the dead only live on in your memories.
I can see some truth in that; I can’t do anything for my father’s body.
Others believe that the body is a mere vehicle for the self and that the spirit continues. Of those, some say that your identity, as in your personality, memories, etc, remains intact, whilst others believe that just as we shed our bodies, we also shed the personalities and roles we have played in life.
In my head these ideas go round and round as I debate them, all the while there is anxiety, loss and a gaping open hole wanting to swallow me.
My father’s presence interrupts the inner turmoil. I feel his face coming closer and closer to mine, obliterating the debate, along with my worries over what I should do.He is shining his light into me, piercing the loss and grief. Piercing the illusions of separation until there is a distinct, distilled sense of joy and laughter.
I hear myself sighing out loud. He communicates through words, warmth and energy: “I’m happy. This is so good.”
My lips curl into smiles. Smiles of recognition. I can let go of this idea that death separates us or that we have to squeeze life out of ourselves when someone dies or that we can’t be happy. It is something I have known all along but in attempts to fit in, I had set aside until I found proof for it.
I don’t need the proof. Calm and equilibrium return.
“Thank you, dad,” I say internally. “I love you. Many blessings for your journey as you shed the many roles and identities you anchored in this lifetime. Of being a father, a husband, a brother, a friend, an opponent, an innovator, a lover of jokes and stories, of being Balbir Singh Kandola. You were brave, honest and true to the end.”
I watch the flames in the fire and know that we are both free.
“P.S. Dad, feel free to send signs and signals from the other side. If you feel like it!”