Exactly 3 months ago on September 22nd, 2019, the world started to grow dimmer earlier and earlier. This was the autumnal equinox, the date at which the length of daylight and length of night is neither lengthened nor shortened. In balance, but past that point, the nights would lengthen.
Today, on December 22nd, 2019, it is the winter solstice. When the Sun stands still. Past this point, the days will begin to lengthen as the night wanes. There’s a poetry in the way these days rhyme with my life.
My father passed away on that day in September, and it has taken me up until now to start to feel like I have begun climbing out of the depression that has inflicted on me. I was never particularly close with my dad. His ideals and his vision were so radically different from my own that we never saw eye-to-eye on much, even if our interests tended to align, they were of different generations. His interest in movies and storytelling, not to mention his career writing as a journalist, or even his interest in shopping were all things I found myself drawn to as well. Even his less acceptable hobbies like gambling or drinking held a certain draw that I did my best to avoid.
I never found out, but judging from his character and his behavior, I think he was a person filled with a deep, wounding loneliness that could never be addressed. He could not connect on anything but the most superficial level with even his own sons. What he did share with us was sparse and more often than not burdensome demands. Who did he confide in, then? Friends, perhaps? He had a large enough network to make anyone’s head spin, but it’s my pet theory that anyone with such an inclination to build so many relationships is craving something deeper and unable to find it.
Even until the day he died, he was alone. One heart attack and he was on the ground, expiring by himself. What panic must have gone through his mind? Surely, I cannot die from this. Was this a prevailing thought? Did he have regrets? I’m sure there were countless. Whose name was he trying to yell at the very end? Questions without answers I’ve pondered since the autumnal equinox, when the skies and my own mind darkened earlier and earlier, as my heart flitted from anger to pity to sadness to bitterness and whatever else happened to seize it in that time. This is fine. Part of the process. So I thought.
As his son, I felt duty-bound to obey him while he lived, but I found it difficult to love him — to behold him as a person with hopes and dreams. Even when I tried to get close, he did not leave much room, and so there came a day when I stopped trying. Even now, I cannot remember the last time he and I spoke in person. Perhaps it was a few months before his passing? What did we even talk about?
All I wanted in these three months was a sense of normalcy. To be able to feel good about things again. And so I strove and strove, perhaps to the point of exhaustion, without ever thinking about what that was doing to me. So much of myself was wrapped up in what I should do instead of to what was being done, and that brought me no small amount of despair because nothing I did worked. I felt like trash no matter what I did. Therefore, I must be doing something wrong. But what could I do?
I craved control and I craved immediate answers, but I was given neither. And so I talked myself into patience and distraction. Even then, though I recognized my feelings were transient, I felt worse and worse. I did not recognize it but there was even a sense of resentment over my situation. What can’t I just have a moment’s peace? What is the lesson I am supposed to learn so this can stop happening to me? Where is the blessing?
I was blind to the blessing. I was blind to the lessons. More importantly, I was blind to the peace. There was overwhelming peace to be found that I did not wish to embrace because I wanted to do it in my own power. It was in surrendering myself to honest grief and not false piety that I started to get it. There’s an ultimate hope at the end of all of this and that drives me on, and I don’t need to have it exactly right or feel good to be able to access that hope.
And so at last, dark as though it may be, brighter, warmer days are yet to come. The beginning of winter is actually the beginning of the lengthening of the day, and the end of the long nights.