I saw him, propped up in bed, wearing white boxers and a white sleeveless undershirt, eating his nightly cheese sandwich while a cigarette burned in the ashtray. I smelled Dad's unique scent, a one-of-a-kind blend of Aramis and cigarettes. And I heard his voice, leaving the same voice mail he always left for me: "Hello, Willo. This is your old Dad calling. I just wanted to see what you've been up to." Sitting with all these pieces of Dad, I felt sad. Profoundly sad. Which surprised me. And overwhelmed me. So much so that I laid down on the old brown leather couch that's in my study and closed my eyes.
As I did, Dad appeared before me (or, rather, I appeared before him). We were outside, the sun was beating down, and I was watching my father play touch football with a bunch of faceless spirits. In that game, in that space, in that light, Dad seemed awash in the joy and peace that so stubbornly eluded him for much of his life. Which, in turn, brought peace and joy to his son.
It also brought understanding of why I had been so sad only moments earlier. In calling up memories of my Dad, I had gone to where he no longer was: the past. I had brought forward that which was dead and the rotting sight, sound and smell of it had brought a certain sadness. The sadness of being where you are not meant to be.
All that had changed by surrendering to the moment of the anniversary. The moment of the now. The second I did, I found my father. As he is now. Well, almost. Because, you see, as this understanding of surrender gently washed over me, I looked across the field to see Dad open a door. It was a door into the sun's light. As it opened, Dad turned to look at me. The rays washed all around him and the unique being I knew as my father gradually disappeared into the oneness of the light.
It was 11:13.
I got up from the couch and walked outside, barefoot. Planting my feet in the bare dirt, I lifted my arms and raised my eyes to look into that place where my father is. Now and always. The light.
The wind swirled around me and the sun overtook me as I closed my eyes and gave thanks for my father, thanks for the light. I opened them just as a single blue butterfly passed by, heading over my backyard fence and disappearing across the horizon. A symbol of transformation for a sun, a son....and a father.