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My father passed last year, on February 10, 2017. His death was unexpected and he went quickly. By grace, I was with him when he died. It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. It felt like the most generous and intimate thing he could ever share with me. Walking him through his death taught me not only to not fear death, but how to truly be alive. Father’s day is coming up and this weekend my mother and sister will scatter my father’s ashes at the Atlantic ocean. I scattered some of him here too at the bay where I meditate every day. Mostly he is always with me. He comes in the form of a yellow swallowtail butterfly. Once in Baja, he came as a brown and orange moth, because as he said, it was the only one around. I wrote this poem three days after he died. It took us a lifetime to heal and mend our differences, but we did, and my dad became one of my closest allies. He and I still talk often. The last I heard from him, and I hold an open mind about reincarnation, because my truth is, I really don’t know; he said he’d chosen to be reborn as a young boy into a big Hungarian family. He said he wanted to learn about familial love. He has two older sisters who adore him, and he is learning to play the violin. He said he finally knows what happiness feels like. Hooray! RIP daddy. I love you and I miss you.

For My Father ~ February 2017

When all the voices in my house
argued so loud
that I couldn’t hear myself sing,
I headed to the river

When the knot in my belly
twisted so tight
that I couldn’t breathe,
I headed to the river

When my mother huddled mouse-like in her corner
tapping the world with her magic wand
and pretending that everything sparkled,
I headed to the river

When my father retreated to his den
slamming the door
and drowning his depression in a bottle of gin,
I headed to the river

The river, where the voices are clean and true
where the wind and water sing in harmony
where the gray granite rocks stand in stillness
and the great blue heron fishes from her perch
at the edge of the world

And today, my father,
a tall, solid, solitary
oak of a man
fell in the forest
this February full moon eclipse

But it was in witnessing
my father’s passing
that I was woven into all that is holy
and given a new heart
that beats with fierce respect
for the great mystery and cycle of life

And for my father,
who became my friend,
who now meets me at the river
and lights around my shoulders
like a cloak of yellow butterflies fluttering
and shining
in the sun.