When I feel the darkness closing in, it’s hard to breathe; the crushing pain and tears threatening to break me into tiny little pieces.
Yet this rawness, this fear inexplicably opens me up, exposing my heart. I start to reach out again. I grab onto the positive, the light and hold it close. With patience and tenderness, I let it grow enough to warm my thoughts and soothe my worries. I choose to yield to its power.
I choose yes.
Will it be okay?
Will the light always be there?
Will love heal all?
Yesterday, amidst a torrent of tears and sorrow, of endless doubts and fears, something told me to open the small gift under my Christmas tree. It was from my older brother, Daniel. I almost heard a voice whispering in my ear.
Go on, open it.
I raced downstairs and ripped at the silver paper.
“Oh!” I gushed, clutching the gift close to my heart.
Inside was my late father’s 1956 report card from Thomas A. Edison High School in New York. As I unfolded the yellowed paper, I giggled in spite of my tears. He had received mostly Ds and Cs. The only classes he had high marks in? Math and photography.
Of course, these grades from so long ago mean nothing now. Mere lines on a piece of paper. They don’t begin to measure how he lived his life or the things he taught me about trusting in the goodness and kindness of helping others. These marks don’t even hint at the incredible man he was or the love he brought so many people while he was alive.
And the love he brings me even today in the face of stark fear.
I traced his name on the tattered slip of paper with my finger over and over, as if I could somehow summon his presence. I needed my dad. I needed to feel safe. I needed his love and his reassurance. I needed him to show me things would be all right again.
I flipped the report card over and underneath nestled in the wrapping paper was a DVD. It was old movie reel footage my brother had unearthed from 45 years ago, things I had never seen before. I popped it into the player and suddenly my dad was there in my living room with me again.
Within moments the grainy and silent images flickered and filled my TV screen: my dad and mom getting married, grinning as they playfully shared their wedding cake; my dad, a young man in his late 20s, laughing as he twirled his own mother, my late grandmother, across the dance floor; my dad, puttering around the yard on a sunny Saturday morning, joking and playing with my older brothers.
And through it all, there was my dad’s face, his blue eyes lit from within. Shining. I remembered his laugh. I remembered how safe I felt around him.
As I sat there on the couch, I felt his love speaking to me.
It’s going to be all right. Do not worry. Do not fear. I am here for you. I will always be here for you.
I love you.
And that’s all that matters.