The Christmas season has passed and with it the anticipation and excitement. While you may have gifted lots of presents, did you gift your presence?
My Christmas and the following days that proceeded it were emotional and challenging. My uncle passed away after a battle with cancer and other health complications.
“It’s not fair.”
Christmas morning—a day meant to be filled with blessings and laughter—I saw my father cry. Now, this is a rare occurrence, granted, more common in his older, retired age. But nonetheless, when my dad cries, you know that he’s really hurting.
Watching his face and feeling his pain was heartbreaking. This stoic man broke down as we were eating. His words were: “It’s not fair that I’m eating with E— can’t.” A sentiment laced in heartfelt guilt and pain.
As I watched my dad cry, tears streamed down my face. I had no idea my uncle was in such bad shape and was oblivious to the intensity of my father’s pain. After this moment, however, I made a decision to provide my dad with a Christmas gift: my presence.
“Be here now.”
― The late Ram Dass
As an entrepreneur, I am constantly working from home. My attention is dragged away at moments as I try to cultivate my next big move. Causally, this can create a lack of presence.
I knew Christmas would entail watching basketball (our family tradition) and give me a chance to write. But the moment I saw my dad cry was all I needed to push away my own agenda and be present for him.
There’s something I’ve learned after traveling around the world. Friends and lovers don’t always remain friends or lovers, but your family will always be your family.
This sentiment was felt deeply when I was over in Thailand. The one connection I could count on was my weekly phone call with my mother. Amidst my intense loneliness and depression, I could rely on that.
So as I made the “no-brainer” decision to be present for my father and available for him. I knew that I was going to support him in whatever way he needed. Maybe it would be a hug or a sympathetic ear. And actually, it turned out to be both, as well as a push to get him to fly out to see his brother and say goodbye.
Your family will always be your family.
When my parents flew to visit my uncle in the hospital and, most likely, say goodbye, I elected to stay back and watch their dogs. Since I had other commitments that didn’t allow me to fly out for an extended time I offered to take care of things for them.
I think the fact that I was able to stay at their house and take care of their dogs gave my dad the peace of mind. He was more able to leave quickly and have the chance to say goodbye. Luckily, they had a couple of days together before my uncle passed away.
So my gift to my father this year was twofold: I gifted him my presence for support and compassion as he struggled with his feelings and the situation, and I gifted him my presence to take care of responsibilities that he didn’t need to worry about.
While I’m unable to physically be there with the extended family and to support my father, I sit here hoping that my presence is proof enough of my love.