The universe works in mysterious ways. We all face challenging times and we all must navigate the emotions that come along with them. For me, the past 3 months have been the most heartbreaking, challenging and yet also the most beautiful time in my life.
On February 28th, 2018, everything I know changed. That evening, I got the call that my Dad had committed suicide.
Those who know me, probably know that my Dad and I have had a very trying relationship. My Dad faced Mental illness throughout life. In the past 8 years, his challenges became dangerous and he would unexpectedly go off medication despite our stated concerns. My dad suffered from addiction and his addictions would only further isolate him from most of his loved ones. Watching my Dad suffer and battle this illness (while often denying it) has been incredibly difficult . I felt like I tried everything over these past years: to level with him, to just let him be and to fight him - all to little avail- my whole family and I felt stuck.
It breaks my heart that my Dad wasn't able to accept and begin to break down his mental illness. I’m hopeful that we're entering new territory for mental illness and that increasingly it isn't something people have to suffer within silence anymore. Initiatives like Bell Let's Talk days, celebrities speaking out about their personal experiences are so important to help us begin to remove the stigma surrounding this disease.
In life, and in piecing together my Dad’s life now that he’s gone, something I’ve noticed and cherished is that even though my Dad was sick, angry and not himself, he always loved us and didn't hold that back. He was always talking about how proud he was of my sisters and I and our accomplishments, and even though he rarely made an effort to be a part of our lives, he would always tell people around him about us. I knew that was his way of loving us. It saddens me to think my Dad couldn't find a way to love himself and along the way, he got so lost in his path. It was the most heartbreaking thing to watch; he often lived in the past or in this mind, which only acted like a cage for him.
Now, fast forward a couple of weeks. Like, the hardest, darkest couple of weeks. It’s now mid-March, and we’re about to celebrate my darling husband Pete’s 40th birthday. It’s a milestone! We had planned a ski trip with the whole family to celebrate. Now, oddly enough I was late, no, not late for the trip or late for the party - late for that “time of the month” and this may be TMI but my boobs looked extra awesome - and - they hurt! I thought to myself - there is no way, not now. No, I couldn’t be pregnant, not after the last couple weeks, not with everything that’s going on.
When I went to sit with it, though, I wondered if this wasn’t just the universe working in a mysterious way. I was pregnant. I got goosebumps every time I thought about the timing. We would have conceived this little seed, literally the same week my Dad took his life. This is life and death working in harmony - when one door closes another one opens. It’s like this our future child and my Dad high fived in the universe. I wondered if there were really spirit guides & if my Dad was this little being’s guide.
It’s a rollercoaster to feel so much sadness and so much joy all at the same time. Now, fast forward to the present. I’m just entering my second trimester and I’m mostly enjoying this wild ride of change. Everything is different. Like, literally everything. And sometimes adjusting to it all can be a little bit challenging. I’m healthy and I’m not complaining - well okay maybe sometimes I complain just a bit - but getting it out here is helping me.
- Coming to terms that my Dad is no longer in this world and grieve his loss.
- My husband is 40?! (just kidding, that’s no biggie!).
- My body is changing (no, I haven’t just ‘let myself go!’). I do have my energy back though, and I'm feeling more like myself, so that's a PLUS!
- I can’t use any of my coping methods (aka wine-o-clock). This is probably a good thing but still!
- Navigating how to be a sole proprietor of my business while taking a ‘mat leave’.
**PLUS the big one…i’m going to be a Mom, and my whole world is about to be different FOREVER.
So, here’s where the practice comes in. You know, the one where we make our way to our yoga mats and try to find a place of calm and peace? Where we ‘try’ to leave the chatter of our everyday world and connect to our breath? That’s what I’m talking about. Even though I haven’t really had much energy to make to my literal yoga mat, I’ve been finding little moments here and there to connect to my breath, remind myself that I’m alive and supported and that I will make it through this. I have the best partner, who has been navigating these past months with so much honesty and humility, I feel so blessed and excited to bring a child into this world with him.
More than anything, though, this time has made me think of just how unpredictable life is. We have 3 realities of our existence; the first is the Past, which is gone, we can learn from it but that is all. The second is the Future, which for the most part are just thoughts, you can use them, but you don’t have to believe them because truthfully half the time they don't come true anyway. The third and most important, it's the Present. It is the only one that truly exists. This is my mediation. Living fully in the present. Being kind to my body which is growing a new life, being patient with the change taking each moment as it comes.
So where does that leave me? Well, every day is different, but for the most part, I’m pretty freaking excited (and totally scared shitless). I keep thinking about my Dad, the old Dad, the one who wasn’t sick, who was excited about life and about getting outside, and who loved learning and spirited debates on life and meaning and religion. This is the Dad who I’ll try to remember and share memories of with my future child. I think of all the pain my Dad was carrying, the battle for his mind, his battle with himself and with so many of the people in his life (living and passed) - he is no longer in that pain. My belief is when you pass, you are freed from suffering, you are free to be in a constant state of bliss. I believe that is where my Dad is right now, and I believe that that version of my Dad has a lot to teach this little seed - so maybe that's his dharma for the time being.
So, here I sit. I sit and remember the most important quality we can live with - compassion. I sit with compassion for myself, compassion for my loved ones and compassion for my Dad, Donald Richard Hurst. Dad, if you are listening, I hope you are freed from your earthly suffering. I hope you are unburdened and that you may see how much you were loved and, in turn, how much you are missed. For now though, please guide this little seed, help it grow and show it the love you showed me. I promise to tell stories of you often. I love you Dad, may you rest in peace.