Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On Black Shadows and Technicolor Life


Life after someone dies can feel like the silhouette Apple commercial that got us all buying iPods ten years ago. You know the one with technicolor backgrounds, energetic rock music, and that black shadow dancing wildly about. Life after death feels just like that.

I see the bright, beautiful colors of life. I hear the music and dance to the anthem of my twenties. I swing to and fro, celebrating and overjoyed; but something black catches my eye. The black thing is hard to name or to track, because it's along the periphery. It's sneaky, shadow-like, but more menacing than a simple play of light and dark.

This is how life after death feels. The music continues to play -sometimes fast and fun, others are somber. But it's the songs beckoning you out onto the celebratory dance floor of life that call forth that black silhouette. It's the bright, bold, colorful moments that remind you of the missing.

In life after death, you don't feel it every day. In fact, you don't feel it every single week. But, you always feel death when celebrating life. A new baby, a birthday, a marriage celebration all bring forth the loss of a loved soul. And with my twenty-seventh birthday rapidly approaching, I have come to realize the black in my periphery isn't a crow or an evening shadow, but it's my dad.

It's the man who is dead despite my heart's longing for him to be alive. It's the man who gifted me a dimpled chin and short legs. It's the man who got the twenty-four hour flu on my eighteenth birthday and pretended to spill a puke bowl on me only to surprise me with the newspaper confetti he'd made in bed. It's the man who taught me to love snow and adventure and never understood why I hated riding dirt bikes.

I miss him in this confetti-filled, sugar-crusted time. It's a miss that isn't sharp in the way it hurts, but is a reflection of the place in my heart that's empty without his presence. It's a miss that happens in small moments. Like the moment you blow out the birthday candles atop the cake and the room drops into darkness as you make your twenty-seventh wish.

Like my breath and that candle, snuffed out and sudden, death comes and claims. Even with expectation and wishes, death comes and claims. And it leaves behind a wake of things, a wake of clumsy dancers learning a new jig. It leaves us here among the bright colors learning to embrace the a new rhythm next to the black absence.

Life after death is beautiful and tragic, colorful and monochrome, big and small. Life after death is just like it was before, but with more meaning and missing, less fighting and more fixing.

Life after death is still life just different.

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