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in my words

my father

my father died twenty years ago today. it’s hard to believe how much time has passed. how much of my life i have lived without him here.  without his voice or his touch. his bear hugs. his laugh. he never met my husband. though he saw pictures of our first date. not at my wedding. never met my kids. no idea about law school. blonde hair. soulcycle. lymphoma. i know along the way i have made choices he wouldn’t understand. wouldn’t agree with. i know he loved me unconditionally. i know he would be by my side. in my own way, i know he is.

my mom lost her father when she was 21. as a kid it was unimaginable to me that she endured such a loss at that age. tragic. heartbreaking. panic. i could never deal with my dad dying when i was just beginning my adult life. not him. not me. my father was a brilliant man. big personality. famous pianist. scholar. child prodigy. artist. linguist. big temper. big heart. we argued and debated and didn’t always see eye to eye. but we loved each other. laughed together. cried together. we both studied russian. same college. both loved music, just different kinds. could feel the rhythm. and he was always there when i needed him. and then one month after i graduated from college, on june 20th 1991, he died. i was 21.

i was newly in love back then. fresh relationship with the boy who became the man i married. such mixed emotions of new love and fresh loss. somehow the love helped me weather the loss. helped me keep taking steps on my journey of living. kept me in new york city. and somehow time passed. and life kept going. over the years, especially during those rocky times in my marriage, i used to wonder if it would have all been different if he hadn’t died that day. at times i wondered if i made the choices i did because he died when i was so young. tried to understand the psyche of a young woman. world at her finger tips. world as she knew it, gone. is that why i got married when i was only 24?

but i don’t wonder that anymore.

i don’t have an extra life to live trying to figure out why and what if and what is to come. the steps i took, i took. and here i am. and i am now. and no amount of wondering and analyzing and pondering will change that. i want to live and learn by figuring out what to do now. not why i did it before. i want to dream big now. not wonder what if. it really is that simple. life is for living, not re-living or pre-living. no amount of planning or guessing or assigning how it should be or should have been or could be or could have been will ever match up to just being here now. living now. loving now. choosing each step. now.

and now has become more than a time frame.

as i was first navigating the cancer diagnosis last fall, a diagnosis of chronic lymphoma. periodic flare ups. periodic treatment.  “we hope you live a long life and die with it, not from it . . .” the imagined fight of a cancer that caused me no symptoms no longer one that would be immediate and then behind me. but chronic. periodic. i quickly decided i had no choice but to live for now.

but there was something not quite enough for me in how i was thinking about it. somehow thinking only about “living for now” left open a total disregard for anything but immediate gratification. and believe me, i have been a big fan of that feeling in my life. who doesn’t love to feel good when you want to feel good and not a minute later. so much information to process about eating better and rethinking what products to use and how to stay healthy. and moderation. but if i am just living for now, who really cares anyway. now feels good so i’ll go with that. it was an overwhelming prospect in a new and overwhelming reality.

and then i started meditating.

and pretty much immediately i found my way to a new level of clarity. a new peace of mind. a heightened awareness.

with fresh cut flowers in hand. an offering that is part of the ancient ceremony when first learning vedic meditation. i sat and had coffee with deb and stacey. and we talked about life. and latin.

my dad spoke 8 languages fluently. like i said he was brilliant. and he loved latin. stacey sent a text to deb’s daughter who also loves latin and pretty quickly i found out that “now” in latin is “iam.” and then something clicked for me. it wasn’t about living for now. it was more. it was about being now. being present. existing now in each moment. i am now. i am now. and it’s a journey. and i am now the journey.

for me, it really is that simple. i want to decide who i want to be and be it. now. i don’t want to calculate and discuss why we did it that way. why we made those choices or spoke those words. rather i want to figure out what i can do now. learn from choosing. not from understanding what went wrong. i want to forge connections with people doing the work now to make our world better now. for our health and our environment. simple. accessible. now. i am learning this all real time. as i go. step by step. not a scientist or a researcher. a mom and a wife and a soulcycler. taking one step at a time. choosing each step. dreaming big.

today i talked with the man who started the group LessCancer. http://www.lesscancer.org. so much to learn. simple choices we can all make now.

today i learned about a man who wants to help reduce cancer in this world and who matches $ for $ money raised in the month of july.

today i took a walk in the park with my daughter and came across a giant sculpture of a bald head.

today i watched a video of my dad playing Mozart.


About iamnowthejourney

i am a mom. an instructor at soulcycle. a poster girl for cancer. this is what 42 looks like. this is what cancer looks like. and i've never been better.


5 thoughts on “my father

  1. this is the second of three movements. but this one is so emotional. so tender. and i can feel his spirit. his soul. his heart. my dad.

    Posted by iamnowthejourney | June 20, 2011, 9:07 pm
    • Mel – My dad practiced trancendental meditation every day from his late 50’s, through treatment for pancreatic cancer ( he was a survivor!) until his death at 81 five yrs ago. .Not always an easy man , never overly emotive and TM helped him on so many levels. On the beach, on the deck , on the 7 train…. he looked beautific, he “awoke” with a smile, renewed and peaceful. Thank you for helping me remember that about him. xo SG

      Posted by Susan Grey | June 20, 2011, 10:43 pm
    • Beautiful post Melanie and especially helpful for me and my inclination to look back at what could have been. Never made me feel good….never benefited me going forward and most important….kept me mired. I am following you closely and reflecting on your journey if that is OK.

      Posted by Nancy Fedder | June 20, 2011, 11:29 pm
  2. Melanie, loved your latest post about your dad – it gave me so much to think about – I’m still trying to figure things out and here you are way ahead of me although 23 years younger. I do remember how much your father loved you and how proud he was of you – still is I’m sure!

    Posted by Pam Torres | June 21, 2011, 11:22 am
  3. Wow – watching the way he feels the music as he plays, thinking about how you feel the music so deeply, with every fiber of your being, as you teach. I can’t wait to be in your class tonight. I love your thoughts about living in your now, your future, and not re-living or re-thinking your past. Listening to your dad play Mozart as I write this…

    Posted by Lisa Leshne | June 21, 2011, 3:27 pm

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