The following is an excerpt from a collection of short essays I’ve been writing over the last few years, each one encapsulates an event in my life that I’ve titled “The Greatest Gifts.” I’ve decided to release this one as realizations that lead me to write it helped me tremendously, and I hope they will do the same for you.
When autumn approaches, we see the leaves fall from the trees. We stare at the barren branches stripped of their life, striped of their lushness, stripped of their greenery. As Winter enters, bark falls off and branches are laid bare, like bones protruding out of the soil.
This is not, however, the permanent nature of trees. Forests are not graveyards. By observing life, we know how foolish a notion it is to think that.
When a tree sheds its leaves, we think of it as useless. We what we don’t see are the seeds planted; the richness imparted to the soil; the gifts given only discovered the following season.
When I think back now, with over 12 years since the loss of my father, I lived most of that time – by choice – in pain. There was the pain of not understanding why he would take his life, the pain of not being able to talk about the pain, the pain of living with someone who could not acknowledge my pain, who struggled to console and comfort me in my times of sorrow. I lived with the pain of friends who never gave condolences, who never cared to even make a gesture.
But as I’ve grown, I’ve come to know that while pain is real, it is also not constant. The pain that we experience in life is usually from something that upsets, but is not, the normal course of life.
Things happen day to day. They happen without choice. They happen without selection. They happen because they’re from God’s providence, from the endless blessings that we have in life, and the small portions of grace that we experience in this world. Both good and bad, sweet and sour.
After shifting my perspective from focusing on the pain, focusing on the hurt, focusing on what was abnormal, I was able to see pleasure, joy, and comfort in the very normal things of life. In the very mundane, boring things of life. Only then was I able to realize what the greatest gift that my father ever gave me was:
It motivated me to stop being merely a student, but to actually get out, make money, and support my family.
This provided me with a career of over a decade now. It provided me with a passion for research. It provided me with the intention to become a better person, a better father, to be more involved, to provide for the family, and not merely subsist.
His death allowed me to inherit him. This single act of receiving money from the demise of another human soul opened countless doors. I now have one child who has finished college debt free. I have others that are working their way there. I have a stable, safe and clean home for my children, where they reside until today. It’s hard to think about death as a gift. But in this case, it was.
When I think about my father’s death, I now realize the world – on that fateful night I discovered he had passed – seemed cold and uninviting. But winters are not permanent, and many great things blossom if we have the patience to tend to them.
Tend to the soil around you until you too see your blessings blossom.