I woke up Friday morning wishing my dad a happy birthday. He would have been 75. I started having fantasies about what I would have done for his birthday. It made me want to call him, but instead I talked to him without a phone. He got the love.
I have been surrounded by death the last few weeks. Lots of loss, or impending loss happening, all of it awakening memories of other losses in my life. Why not just go full throttle mega loss and tuck my dad’s birthday in there too, why dontcha?
The day before was Valentine’s Day. I did what I’ve been doing on or around V-Day (previously Christmas) in honor of yet another friend who died far too young. I started the Love Scarf Project 9 years ago, just after my friend, musician Robbie Seidman died at the City of Hope. We deliver handmade scarves and hats to patients at COH. Executing the project always sets in motion all the memories of this amazing man and his music, and the feverish pitch at which he lived and created. Seeing people of all ages, shapes, sizes and backgrounds battling cancer is not easy, but the love exchange when giving scarves, hats and hugs is pure life, pure love, pure unadulterated beauty.
On Friday morning when I realized my dad would have been 75, I thought of that beauty. I wondered if maybe this was the day to spread his ashes. He had asked to have his ashes put in a beautiful garden, any garden. Where I live could change for unforeseen circumstances, so I’ve been reticent to plant where I live even though it is beautiful. My dad and I used to visit two different public gardens in Los Angeles, one of which I still go to regularly, and that I know will always be there. Maybe Friday, his 75th birthday, was the day.
Then life happened. I was babysitting my old neighbor’s dog, who is like my step-dog, because he too is battling cancer and needs to be watched. Talk about living at a feverish pitch, in 6 ½ years he has lived his 13. All of a sudden, mid-morning he had a heart/lung crisis that ended with me lying on the floor with him just holding him, peacefully petting him, making him as comfortable as possible in what I thought was likely his final hour. But, miraculously, after about 30 minutes, he perked up, drank some water, and got it together. It was a roller coaster. Thank God. Life won this time.
And, I decided life could win again. This could be the day that I finally spread my dad’s ashes. So in honor of his 75th birthday I went to one of the most beautiful gardens in the world and had a celebration finding the most glorious places to hide little handfuls of love ashes while going unnoticed. The only creatures that noticed were squirrels and birds who beckoned me in one direction or another, showing me the love spots to be honored. It was a slightly frantic – yes, feverish, you could say – frolic through the gardens. All that’s important is my dad got the love. He got it.
And I got a tangible reminder that we are not these bodies, these ashes. We are beyond this life, beyond death. Must repeat that one over and over: we are not these bodies - no matter how young they are when they perish.