I had reservations about writing this as well as sharing it. Today would have been my dad’s 73rd birthday and I can’t help but think about where the time has gone. Writing has provided the necessary outlet to express thoughts, ask questions, and simply wonder. The recent death of my father put many things into perspective and leading up to his passing, I found myself writing as a form of grieving.
It has been a few months since his death and I think about it everyday. The overwhelming feeling of loss hasn’t left me (I don’t expect it to). He passed on April 9th to pancreatic cancer. After receiving his diagnosis in August of 2017, I couldn’t help but think about death. I was also having another child on the way, which fostered my thoughts about life. The juxtaposition of both life and death happening simultaneously prompted me to think about my own life and question my ability to juggle all of its demands.
My mother passed away in 2014 to breast cancer and I remember having the same feelings then as I do now. The emptiness can be overwhelming as both of my parents have passed on and my brother and I are responsible for carrying the torch forward. We’re both still fairly young with an entire life to live. It’s a daunting task.
Looking back, I realize they’re both in a better place. However, for one of the only certain things in life, death is difficult to cope with and move on from. The emotional rollercoaster it entails, witnessing your loved ones go through unfathomable pain, and ultimately reliving their memories as their lives flash before your eyes, are all a part of the process. There’s a stronger sense of appreciation and love that may or may not have existed before.
Having gone through this process with my mother and father in a short amount of time, I always find myself asking what does this all mean? What has death taught me about life? How can I live this short life to its full potential? It’s easy to say “live in the moment” or be “present,” but in my experience, it’s easier said than done. As life becomes more complex, stressful, and filled with various pressures, it’s difficult to take a step back and simply be grateful for living. Grateful for having a loving family, healthy children, and strong friendships. Careers tend to get in the way, pressures of climbing the ladder and providing for your family take up precious mind space that should be used for being present, making your kids laugh, or telling your wife how much you love her.
How do you check all of the boxes? Success as a Husband, Father, Professional — while achieving stability?
Below, I have essentially broken down my own advice as I navigate how to live the rest of my life. I am conveying this through the lens of death and I hope I can adhere to these moving forward. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, just a few suggestions. Here it goes:
1. Get rid of materialism…completely — don’t worry about keeping up. Everyone is on their own path at their own pace. Don’t worry about other people and that new car, or big house, or new shoes…it’s all temporary.
2. Instead focus time/money on experiences. See the world, immerse yourself in different cultures — try new & challenging experiences…
3. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Purpose. Find like-minded individuals you can align with and go after common goals. You can’t do it alone.
4. Love the one you’re with.
5. If you don’t like it, change it. Don’t like your job, quit. Don’t like someone, don’t speak with them anymore.
6. Stop worrying about things out of your control. If you’re constantly worrying about the weather, traffic, or other people, you will never be happy — it’s very simple.
7. Stop complaining, period. No one cares. The world is not conspiring against you.
8. Always be willing to learn, always be coachable and don’t take things too personally.
9. Work hard. There will always be people more talented than you, but no one will be able to question your work ethic and attitude.
10. Put your phone down. We are handcuffed to our phones while the world around us passes us by.
My parents are in a better place now and I will always fill their void. Our only choice is to move forward and carry them with us as we continue through our lives. Of course, things won’t always be smooth, but as my Dad always said, “this too shall pass.” Life is truly short and the most important thing I can do is live for my family and instill the qualities that I want carried forward to future generations.
Thank you for reading.
Originally published at medium.com