Much Love, Bonnie

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Two years ago my dad died. There's a lot that I could say that would probably be too personal. There's a lot that I could say that would probably be too sad. So I'll just share some thoughts from the heart and try to keep it simple. That day is a complete blur of food, neighbors, hugs, and tears.  But there's one part that is remarkably clear to me.  Around four in the afternoon, I couldn't be in the house anymore.  I couldn't feel the heaviness.  Couldn't take one more tear.  Couldn't see one more person look at me with that face that said, "I feel so sorry for you." So I went for a run.  I hate running.  But there was something about the run that was almost cathartic for me.  A great release of emotion and sorrow.  I ran and I ran and I ran.  It was cold outside, but somehow the cold numbed the pain.  I ran past the spot where they had found my dad, I ran along the trail where he always went on his bike, I ran up dirt hills I'd never seen before, I ran until finally I came to a gate and a fence that would let me run no more. And then I collapsed.  I fell on the rock hard dirt, and the tears came hard and fast.  I pleaded with God.  "Please don't let this be real.  Please let me wake up from this nightmare.  Please.  Dad, come back.  I'm not ready.  I need you.  Don't leave."

It's difficult to know what to say about such pain.  There's nothing to compare it to, because the pain of unexpected and untimely death is in a league all of its own. The funeral was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had.  I learned that my dad was prepared to go.  That it was never in the plans for my dad to live longer than this.  That the veil was thin and that I could talk to dad at any time.  That now I have two fathers in heaven. Since that time, there have been many times when I have felt my dad's presence strongly. When I have witnessed for myself that the veil, indeed, is paper thin. The strongest and most powerful experience was the day of my wedding.  My dad’s presence was so strong that I was almost surprised I didn't see him right there, shyly grinning from the back row.  Tears rolled down my cheeks for the entirety of the ceremony. He was sending me his love, his approval, telling me he was proud of me for everything about the decision I was making- the time, the place, the man.

The summer I turned 16, I accompanied my dad down every Tuesday to work at his podiatry clinic. I was learning how to drive a stick shift that summer, so I would drive the 30 minutes, my dad in the passenger seat coaching, "Second, second, put it in second!"  "Don't ride the clutch!" and "Bonnie, slow down!” Every week we would stop at B.K's Stop and Shop on the way home and dad would buy a big cherry coke for us to share.  I had both hands busy at all times, trying desperately to maneuver the ever- difficult stick shift, so my dad would hold the cup for me and move the straw to my mouth so I could have a taste. And that's how we spent every Tuesday evening of the summer, driving home with a stick shift and a cherry coke.  And for some reason, this is the story about my dad that I love the most.  I guess it's because it just doesn't seem like there's anything in this world quite as tender as a girl shifting and clutching and steering while her dad, sitting shotgun, holds up a straw to her mouth so that she can get a sip of cherry cola.

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