Sunflowers always make me think of Dad. All wildflowers do – he spent hours and hours taking us out in the fields as children and then as adults (as well as his grandchildren) and patiently teaching us over and over again the names of the local flowers.
But sunflowers…. it seemed every time he saw a sunflower growing in the garden he was dashing off to get his camera and take the perfect photo.
This trip to New Mexico has been so much more difficult than I anticipated. Last summer when I was home, I watched Mom and Dad spend a great deal of thoughtful time on their applications for Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation. Mom was accepted, Dad was not. With that, the hope still was that he would accompany her here. Because Dad so wanted her to take this course and thrive in its growth. By the time I moved back home in March, we knew he wouldn’t be coming here, but the dream was that he would be home and mom could share her trip in the evenings on the phone with him while I was along in person to help her out.
And then he died.
After a summer of the family prodding and pushing and lovingly supporting mom, she bravely decided to come here.
And even with all that as background, I still didn’t think this would be so hard.
I dropped mom off at her session this afternoon still thinking I was ok. I had a few minutes of sadness this morning, but in general had felt pretty stable. But, as soon as she went into the conference room I felt like pulling a Sadness moment from Inside Out and lying on my back with my leg up in the air for Joy to pull me around while I coloured all my memory balls blue. However after standing there in the (public) hall leaking grief from my eyes I realized I also had to be my own Joy.
I took myself outside for a walk. It’s beautiful here at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. Not only that, but it’s so soul warming and peaceful. You can see the effect of the place on the smiles of the people as they move around.
As I was walking down the path all I could think was I miss Dad so much. I wish we were walking here together. We loved walking together, it made us so happy. I miss him… I miss him… I miss him.
I came around a turn and I saw this:
Sunflowers. Just hanging out in the desert. As I stopped to look they were everywhere.
Every time I turned… There was the spirit of Dad walking along with me.
(A tree of sunflowers!! A tree – how cool is that??)
I got to the banks of the Rio Grande (yet another one of those cool places I thought I would never get to) I stood there with Dad in my heart and looked across to the mountains. My happiness moment.
I knew I had to turn around and come back, but as I stood there in joyful sorrow I felt peace and love. Look in the left corner – there’s sunflowers there too.
There’s a lot of healing that could happen in a place like this. I’m not sure how to describe it, or even exactly what it is. But this is the kind of place that can help heal your soul. I’m grateful Dad came along for my afternoon walk so I could share this with him.
Even with the sorrow and grief of today, I am so grateful that we are here. Life does go on, and no one loved to really live life more than Dad did. He would want us to live, laugh, cry, love, experience all that life has to offer. I deeply feel the best way to honour his memory is to keep stepping ahead. Sometimes with smiles and sometimes with tears, but living and loving with a full heart.