My grandpa died last week. His nickname was Tippy and I didn’t know him at all.
He wasn’t even really my grandpa, though that’s why my last name is Daehn. His was, too, and he adopted my dad when he was just a kid. One day, my dad’s last name was Cotton; the next, it was Daehn.
Anyway, he died. And that made my dad all sorts of sad. Which, in turn, has made me sad.
It’s also part of what has made me feel like tucking inside myself a bit, like wrapping the covers around my most important pieces and not venturing out.
Leaving my job has been difficult. Some parts of me are relieved to no longer work for an employer that treats its employees the way that one did. A bit of me is relieved to no longer have to worry about that website’s traffic and profitability and poor design.
But when you take the covers off, much of me feels vulnerable. Who can I trust? Why did that website matter more than my friendship to a few people who have made me question the way I spent so much time and energy the past two years.
I don’t know.
What do any of us know really.
Except that these things still remain, no matter who’s standing beside us:
– We owe ourselves happiness. If you’re not happy, seek it out. Don’t stop until you find it. Never give up. It exists. I’ve found it, and even though every day I have to choose to feel it, it is there. A beautiful overarching truth.
– We ought to believe in ourselves, at least most of the time. I mean, really. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will? At the end of the day, we have our own reflection to answer to. Our own expectations to meet. Don’t give up. You can do it.
– It really is – somehow – going to be OK. A friend last week reminded me of Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech. You can’t connect the dots of your life looking forward, he says. Only backward. You have to believe the dots will connect down the road.
(I watched this video the day he died. I just watched it again. He was fired from Apple, at 30 years old. For a few months, he didn’t know what to do. Then he realized, he still loved what he did. So he decided to start over. He created Pixar and he fell in love and got married. I’ve found the love, maybe now I’ll find my Pixar).
“Do what you believe is great work,” he says. “Love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
My dad didn’t get to see his dad before he died. (Cancer is an evil, ugly thing). But he went to Sheboygan last weekend, to pay his respects, to see his brother and to … well, find some closure, I suspect. The people who are left behind have it worse than the ones who have died. I’ve always thought that.
Anyway, my dad came home with a suitcase full of memories. Inside that old case were pictures of his late mom, love letters his dad wrote to her long ago and other mementos. My dad opened the lid, was brave enough to peek inside for a second and then shut it up.
That trip was for another time, a different day, when emotions weren’t already high, when his own self no longer felt bruised and vulnerable.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My babies are with their dad and their grandparents and I am so thankful they have so many people to love them. I am thankful I, too, have someone to love, and family to share the day with.
Think I’m going for a run.
In the sunshine.