Thursday, June 22, 2017

Talking With the Dead

I was scrolling through my phone yesterday, while on one of my daily walks I take. It's a ritual of mine I've had for years.  I set aside time in the morning and afternoon to get outside, stretch my legs and clear out my thoughts. This time has come to be invaluable for my self-esteem and overall well-being. Yesterday I happened to find myself in my contacts list on my phone, which I rarely ever find myself in. While I was in there I noticed the myriad of numbers of people whom I no longer had contact with, many for several years.

In the spirit of clean up and declutter, I decided to sift through all the numbers. The idea was daunting at best; I had 1,000's of numbers saved (that's not an exaggeration). I didn't even know where I would start or if I could finish while staying sane. But it also felt like the right thing to do. Lately, I've been going through my closets, both emotional and physical, and getting rid of what I don't need. It seems like a necessary thing to do regularly to maintain any sense of balance.

So here I am, sweating profusely in the 95° weather as oncoming traffic watches, scrolling through my contacts list, deleting numbers left and right. The person whom I asked out as a nervous return missionary from the yogurt shop. Gone. The parent of a child who I supervised while performing humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic. Deleted. That person I home taught while going to school at BYU. Sianara. I honestly think I only ever saw her once anyways.

I was on a high, saying goodbye to all these numbers of people who no longer served a purpose for my life. Like the way Leslie Knope comically described eating a brownie she thought was loaded with pot (see Parks & Rec Season 2, Episode 2). It just felt good. Really really good.

Then I came to another number I hadn't seen for years. But this one was different than the rest. This number I hesitated to delete. This number was my Dad's:

I was speechless. I still am, really.

Here it was. My Dad. Not even that but it was my dad's number with his face right with it. Like he was still here. Like he never left. The number he used to call me from, always in a hurry. Anyone who knows my Dad knows that if there was ever a word to describe him, it was: Efficient. He did not like wasting your time or his. I don't think I ever had more than a 30-second phone call with him on the phone. He was so "efficient" that when the time came to hang up the phone, he would never even say "goodbye". He'd just hang up.

It's been 2 1/2 years since my Dad's passing. And seeing his number again for the first time in years, it brought me back. And a big part of me in that moment wished I could go back. Even if just for a moment. To be able to call that number and hear my Dad answer on the other line. Even if it was just to say "Hello Bryan, How are you", in his very strong but sincere tone. A moment ago I was riding a high and racing through life, and now, I felt humbled. Bewildered really. Was it respectful of me to delete my Dad's number and move on, or was it better to keep his number there for safe keeping? Just have it there, because what harm would it do?

I know my Dad loved me.

No one more than myself needs to remind me of the issues my Dad and I both had, up until he died. Issues that felt defeating and otherwise insurmountable. Issues that nearly cost me taking my life.

But he loved me. And acknowledging where I am now, from where I was while he was alive. I feel closer to him now than I did then. I can actually think of him or "talk" to him and not be afraid by that. And as crazy as that sounds, I'm really glad. I'm really glad for my own sense, that I can now benefit from my Dad's influence, rather than feel hindered by it.

I miss you Dad. You were a remarkable man who loved greatly. And my life is all the better because of it.

So for now, I've decided to delete his number from my phone. I can't call it again and ever hear his voice on the other end. I won't ever have another phone call where my Dad reminds me to get home and clean my boxes in the basement. I won't ever see him physically again and look at me with pride, like he used to, knowing that he didn't have to say anything. He saw how precious and worthy I was of his affection.

But in my own metaphysical world, I've been able to find other ways to connect and talk with him.

And that's making all the difference for me.

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